Pappy Kojo: Nyame Bra
Before I jump into this review I must be completely honest; when I first saw the video my thought was ‘oh here Pappy goes again’, rolled my eyes and continued to watch the latest Hot 97 interview. I then saw the brilliant Swaye tweet praises about the video and then I gave it a second chance – this time I got it.
My fanti isn’t great but I know enough to get the lyrics, so this time I watch and listen intently. The video starts with a haggard looking Pappy (styled by Renaissance and in-house stylist and makeup artist Nutifafa), pulling along an empty cart that slowly fills up as he sings the first verse. The first line of the verse goes (paraphrasing) ‘they think my fire’s out, but I’m now stoking it with coal’ – Pappy is desperate to prove something with this song and video.
Pappy is seen on a journey as his cart fills up, making it strenuous, but he doesn’t give up – thus representing his path in the industry and the mounting pressures he wades through. As he walks, long and close up shots reveal several characters whose bodies are painted in white, from all walks of life, from young boys to an Imam and then an elderly lady etc – who represent the many eyes he has on him in this industry, judging and commenting.
Pappy finally lets go of his load when he sings the chorus ‘let me go’ – doing away with the weight and then proceeding to overcome them (literally), when we see a crane shot of him on top of the cart with his back to his spectators. Most of the video plays out in slow motion, and quick lingering (mind the oxymoron!) close up shots, giving the video a cinematic feel. It has not gone unnoticed that this is the first video that does not feature another artiste since his appearance on Wave – further establishing his subtle references to his maturity on this record and in this video.
Fun fact; in order for Pappy to be in sync with the lyrics witching the slow motion action sequences – he had to rap twice as fast to compensate. See the very short rehearsal video below.
Once I understood the concept, I knew there was a method to the madness – I strongly believe that a music video should be an extension of an artiste’s art and that’s exactly what this video does. I reached out to a couple of the geniuses behind the video; Co Director Fofo Gavua and Producer Kumi Obuobisa of Abstrakte – a production company that started with Fofo and his cousin Trayne Adjei in Toronto during the latter part of 2014 after Fofo got back from Ghana, where he had wrapped a critically acclaimed short film called Sophie. He was helping his cousin out on a shoot when they began to express how tough it was to break into the film industry in Canada as young black men – they said “Yo fuck it, we’re black, we’re filmmakers, let’s start a company”. A third guy; Godfred Adjei joined the two and Abstrakte was born. Along the way more people have joined to make this a stronger team.
The team, who were behind Worlasi’s One Life video, have already stated to make a name for themselves in the industry for creating narratives that do not fit the ‘standard’ structure of storytelling but by finding creative signifiers with deeper meaning(s) that convey a story in a thought provoking manner. Knowing this, I worry that a great number of people will misunderstand their work, like I did; where subtle messages are missed, but Fofo tells me “I’m not really worried that viewers won’t get our work, because it is essentially what abstract art is; is that it is open to interpretations, so that’s the kind of films we make. We like to keep it open for interpretation, because I like it when there’s a whole load of debate or dialogue over my pieces of art.” Kumi adds the following “we’re a very brave bunch of weird people at Abstrakte and we are misunderstood in our lives anyway, it’s something we’re used to so we’re never really bothered about people who don’t understand what we are doing.”
Fun fact 2: The art director on this video also worked in the same position on feature film Beast of No Nation (Netflix) – Abstrakte are filmmakers at heart.
One would be forgiven for drawing biblical parallels with this video – being the good Sunday School kid I was, I know the crucifixion story; especially the part where Jesus carries his cross. The first minute or so of this video reminds me of this; a beaten down and burdened Pappy, pulling along his cross to be crucified only to let go of said cross and descend on us mere mortals (via the beautiful crane shot at 2:03 – 2:15) in white robes (jeans and a shirt) as God himself come.
Concept/Story Breakdown as well as ‘take homes’ from the video according to Abstrakte:
The load of sacks represents Pappy’s pressure that he feels in the industry as he walks into greatness
Characters in the video in white paint symbolise the people in his life and career that are essentially judging him and have a lot of expectations of him – the white paint represents traditional spirituality as well as a layer of surrealism; essentially stating that the people who judge us in our lives are not real or are illusionary. The girls with black veils represent Pappy’s scorned exes – judging Pappy.
The bike in the video with Pappy positioned next to a fuel pump relates to his lyric where he says; ‘Valentino Rossi’ referring to the Italian motorcycle race and MotoGP World Champion, with the pump refuelling him up as he reaches another level in the industry.
One last thing Abstrackte would like you to know is how hard Pappy worked on this video and his dedication to make this video look as impressive as it is – from watching this video, it is obvious that Pappy had a clear influence, which is good to see.
Beautifully moving piece of art; a reviewers dream – 5 stars from me!
Review by yoyo tinz member Hephzie