Their voices are well-known, but theirs aren’t the faces most synonymous with Ghana’s highlife genre.
And, yet, for hit songs that are as delightful as anything you’d hear from the likes of Daddy Lumba, Amakye Dede, and Kojo Antwi, highlife’s unsung heroes deserve to be hailed every bit as much as the more famous names.
Today, on Daily Mail GH, we celebrate Oheneba Kissi. Here are five of his best works, plus some extras.
1. MANNTE WO NKA
Lovesick Kissi calls out to his absent partner in this classic — a personal favorite, in fact — pleading to hear from her, at the very least. Kissi’s well-being and sanity — his life, even — depends on such contact with his departed loved one. His plea sounds painfully desperate but, well, who are we to judge?
2. YOU’RE NUMBER 1
Not many songs are sung in three languages, but Kissi pulls it off here brilliantly. Apparently, the lover being addressed is burdened with doubts over just how much Kissi esteems her. And so, to offer reassurance, Kissi recounts all he has done for her in the past . . . in the widely spoken Twi, English, and Ga tongues . . . just so she gets the message clearly enough.
On this one, Kissi digs into the fundamentals of love — its ABCs and 1,2,3s — which, he croons, have been deeply imparted into his heart by his love interest. The lady’s special brand of love, pure and simple, has succeeded in knocking him over and eroding the macho façade with which most men tend to mask their romantic feelings. Such is the couple’s chemistry that, just by reading each other’s cues and body language, so much is said and understood.
4. ADOM NYAME
Highlife lends itself rather easily to ‘gospel’ undertones and, occasionally, these bubble to the fore. It’s why many of its best artistes have a song, at least, that highlights the ‘God factor’, and ‘Adom Nyame’ (Gracious God) — although relatively underappreciated in that category — is Kissi’s offering. Kissi, then domiciled overseas (I think), sings of his woes as a wanderer, shorn of the support of friends and family, and reaches out for providence to sort out his miserable lot.
Fast-paced yet as danceable as highlife goes, ‘Ateaa’ is good. Damn good, really. Kissi pleads with his attractively slender partner for her love and company. He promises her, not the wads of cash and trips to Dubai with which latter-day artistes serenade the girls, but a truly good time like she’s never had: the best of music, dance, and conversation. It is, indeed, an invitation to play and to party, to revel and to relish the penpensiwa, an element of traditional Akan entertainment. And, just to ensure that there is enough room for all the love to be dished out, ‘Ateaa’ is urged to empty her heart of all bitterness held against others before turning up.
Notable Mentions: Nnaadaa Me, Yenfa Odo, Odo Licence, Medo Hemaa, Ka Biribi Kyere Me, Abadin
NY Frimpong — Daily Mail GH