This is one of those stories I was going to wait to tell my grand kids to serve as a moral or a fable, but I guess I’ll tell it to y’all now. Just hold on till the end.
As a teenager, I frequently found myself the subject of rumors – the quality of which varied from the outrageous to the plausible. Some where laughable and others really hurtful. Being subjected to rumors is the price of admission into certain cliques and even certain academic institutions in Accra. I have slept with people I’ve never met, been on vacation to places I’ve never heard of, bombed exams I never took. I’ve survived the onslaught almost unscathed.
There are so rumors so ridiculous that it belittles one to even address them. These are the type that earn an “Ahhh? Is that what you heard?” coupled with a side eye and a sucking of the teeth. Then there are others that are amusing at first, then flattering, then potentially lethal to your street cred if left unaddressed. The rumor that I am Ghana’s FIRST female MC is one of those.
Yes. You read that right. It’s rumored that I am Ghana’s pioneer female MC. Mic Checka Malaka in the hizz-ous!!!
This is something I’ve heard before, but never really took seriously. If not for a respected member of Ghana’s music industry asking me to tell him how it all happened it last night, I wouldn’t be addressing it all! But if it has reached THIS person’s ears, then the rumor has grown teeth and wings and is auditioning for a part in Game of Thrones. I would let the rumor persist if not for the fact that I may be called on stage one day to “spit bars like I used to back in the day” for an expectant crowd and then find myself staring blankly into a sea of Accra’s finest looking like this guy:
In the early 90’s, hip hop was HUGE. It was bigger than anything that had come before. Bigger than jazz, bigger than ragtime, bigger than Koo Nimo. This was the era of Queen Latifah, Naughty by Nature, Biggie and Pac. I had just completed my O’levels and my imagination, potty mouth and I were ready to fully engage in all the musical glory that the genre had to offer. I entered and performed in several talent concerts in the city, ready to show off my rap skills.
Well, it wasn’t “several” really. More like 1.5. And that’s exactly what makes this rumor so hard to believe if you were there and SAW what happened.
In those days, everybody in secondary school had a rap/rhymes/lyric book. We would all write down the lyrics to songs in exercise books and perform them later. Some people were better at it than others, usually those who painstakingly scribbled out the words to genres as divergent as country is from high-life. The person with the best compilation of lyrics won. Won what, no one knows. Lets say they won honor…that honor being bestowed the mantle of being the go-to person for verification of lyrical content. This is how a whole dormitory in a certain unnamed school could perform Fresh Prince’s ‘Summertime’ with the intro going “Hegediz kukum hedediz…” (Here it is…) with gusto and without apprehension.
The first time I rapped was with my classmate Akua. We performed Pharcyde’s ‘Passin Me By’ at a show in GIS. I was the dude with the high pitched, nasal voice…or at least I was supposed to be. On the day of the actual show, I chickened out at used my regular speaking voice in the performance. Akua hardly spoke to me after that. We’re Facebook friends now, so I guess she’s forgiven me.
The next time I was supposed to rap (the .5 in this equation) was at Labadi Beach during some event during the long vac. I had been invited by Wos, Ben, Eddie and Jake to join their group. I didn’t understand why, but it was something to do so why not? I asked my mom for permission, she gave it, and I practiced for the show. I didn’t even write my own rhymes – something that it is critical for any person claiming MC status to do. I think the name of the group was NFL, I can’t remember. All I know was Das EFX was big at the time, and every other word Ben and Wos rapped had an “iggity” at the end. I was going out with a guy named Joe at the time. This is where you’ll want to pay attention.
On the day of the even, your humble potty mouthed thug miss arrived at the beach in all white. I wore white baggy pants, a fitted white shirt, cornrows and combat boots. I also had a baseball bat in my hand. You know…to up the hard core effect and to let people know I meant bidness. I had such a hard life living in a 5 bedroom home in Labone, naw’mean? The presenters of the show instruct us to step out on stage so we could be introduced to the crowd later.
“Oh look! They even have a girl in their group!” he trills.
The crowd goes wild. I grip my baseball bat tighter, cock my head to the side and deliver a 5 point mean mug. We descend from the stage where Joe is waiting for me. I feel exhilarated.
“You’re not going to rap today,” he said flatly.
“No girlfriend of mine is going to stage to rap,” he sneered.
My sister was disgusted. I was confused. What was this gibberish this boy was talking? As it turned out, I couldn’t perform that day because our set was too long. Each performance had to be no more than 3 minutes. Ours was between 5 and 6. I volunteered to step back. The boys debated and Jake was next on the chopping block. Somehow, later during the show, Jake and I got into it. I think I told him his breath was stank, his body was stank, something or everything about him was stank. He threatened to shoot me because “you don’t know I am carrying a gun eh?”
My sister, always ready to come to my rescue swoops in with this challenge:
“Shoot her! Shoot her! I want to see if you can shoot her!”
Jake backs off and my sister hurls a string of insults as his retreating silhouette. Joe and I broke up shortly afterward. He’d left for the States to go to college, and I was grateful for his departure. Ladies: don’t ever let some boy waltz into your daughter’s life and control or quell her creativity. Did he born her? No. He did NOT.
If you can suss out from this series of events how I became Ghana’s female first MC, please let me know and come for toffee!