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review: Vanilla warns ‘Atongo’ with Rex Omar, Ice Prince interpolation

Song: Atongo

Artiste: Vanilla

Producer: Genius Selection

Author of review: Kwame Dadzie

in minor scales usually evoke somber moods and that is how I felt when I first heard Vanilla’s ‘Atongo.’ What even complements the tone of disappointment is the message of the song. However, my attention moves to other elements of the entire masterpiece, leaving me no option than to translate my emotions into a review.

Vanilla, a former Mentor contestant, under the aegis of Bullhaus Entertainment, has been serving music lovers with some pretty good tunes for the past few years. He has songs like ‘Medicine’, ‘Sikilite’, ‘Ghana Mma’, ‘Kelewele’, among others. He takes his artistry a notch higher with this new work.

To me, ‘Atongo’ is the best piece of music he has ever released: painstakingly crafted arrangement, instrumentation, vocal delivery and lyrical content.

Instrumentation/Production: As someone who grew up listening to a lot of highlife songs, I don’t struggle to identify a song that falls within that genre, regardless of simulations or fusions with other genres. Evidently present are the ostinato of the castanet which lays the foundation to most highlife songs (although not an automatic highlife determinant). The mid-tempo song done in 2/4 time signature in B Minor, also employs rattles, lead guitar, bass guitar, percussions, drum kit, among others.

Produced by Genuius Selection, the output sound and entire production clearly tells how much work must have gone into this work.

Interpolation: This is an interpolation of Rex Omar’s ‘Dadadida’ and Ice Prince’s ‘Oleku’. The Rex Omar effect becomes even more pronounced when the backing vocals sing “aaaaah ah”. That part (sung la:-:se:-:) is one of the prominent melodies in Rex’s ‘Dadadida’. He also picks a line from Ice Prince’s ‘Oleku’ (Oleku, tell me what I no fit do for you), sings in his own melody to convey his message.

It takes geniuses to make people’s songs theirs, bringing to life a borrowed originality, and I am not surprised Genius Selection had a hand in this project.

Listen: Rex Omar’s ‘Dadadida’

Vocal Delivery: Vanilla has always been a good singer, although I am yet to be wowed by his vocal prowess on a song. Maybe he is that enterprising musician with a nice voice – not one that characterises a singer par excellence. His vocal performance was average. The production effects on his voice, notwithstanding, gave it quite a unique timbre.

Message: In the song, a young man is worried that he has been jilted by a woman – a situation that has left him to seek solace in alcohol. Recounting how painful the break-up has been to him, wetting his pillow at night with tears, the singer also detects the reason he was abandoned.

He realises that there is another man, Atongo, whom he describes as ‘Gbe Nabu’, in the picture. He then sends out a stern warning him to stop dating his woman.

He goes ahead to ask why the woman decided to leave him because he is convinced he performed his duty well while with the woman.

Content analysis: The writer is simply behaving like anyone that is brokenhearted. Mostly, after such break-ups, it is difficult to come to terms with the reality. Denial sets in. The mistake most people make is to attack the new lover that has taken over from them. Usually, the problem is not the person that has snatched your lover from you. It is the lover that decided to leave you. So the warnings and threats, just as portrayed in this song, don’t yield results.

Listen: Vanilla’s ‘Atongo’

Marketability: ‘Atongo’ has a vibe that ties into the current Afrobeats craze; one that can share a space with the Afrobeats cuts making it big on the international music scene.

It is a brilliant composition that will enrich the playlist of every DJ whose taste buds for music are responsive to quality music.

With a strategic push from the management, this song should soon be creeping its way into the heart of a lot of music lovers the world over.