By the time you finish reading this story, gospel minister OJ – real name; Michael Oware Sakyi – would have perhaps also established himself as the country’s biggest-selling musician at the moment.His latest album, Nokwasen, on which is found a particular record, Maye Se Mo Pen, is doing wonderful things on the market and the music charts.
The album is simply the hottest cake on the Ghanaian gospel music scene – no two ways about that! But there is also a problem.
OJ appears to be drowning himself in a deep controversy – and probably danger – by threading on dangerous grounds. Call it a minefield or a timed-bomb ready to detonate!
The lyrics of the song Maye Se Mo Pen appears to be creating much discomfort and controversy than it is necessary. That is to some people who are taking the song overly too personal.
Fact is, the song is currently courting controversy and affection in equal measure. The words (or lyrics) therein speak directly to the conscience of the listener, in ways that appear as if OJ is pointing accusers at people, even though he mentions no names!
Consequently, the attendant debate and demand has been simply unexplainable. Whereas some music-lovers and pundits have classified the song as a masterpiece, others have touted it for the controversy it could spiral.
There are others, mostly die-hard fans of OJ, who also think their darling boy should thread cautiously on the path he finds himself now, because, as one cassette/CD vendor puts it: “In Ghana people take certain things personal!”
So what is it that everybody is talking about for both the good and not-so-good reasons?
Surely, OJ gave some explaination to give in an exclusive interview with the Spectator Agoro’s (SA) James Harry Obeng, last Tuesday.
SA: Good Morning
OJ: Good morning, my brother!
SA: Your new album is out and I guess you know the confusion it’s already causing
OJ: (Laughs) I don’t, unless you tell me.
SA: Well, a lot of people, including your own fans, are talking about the album and in particular, the song M’aye Se Mo Pen. Some even think that’s your greatest record so far, whilst others think it could put you into trouble?
OJ: (cuts in) Trouble? How? (he burst into laughter, and then continues). I think I know what you are talking about, but I can tell I haven’t encountered any such ‘hostilities’ or ‘confrontations’ or ‘threats’ from people yet.
OJ: Yes, my brother. Not yet! All I get is people, including those I haven’t met or seen before, calling me and crying about their regrets and lessons in life. And these are both young and old. Anytime it happens this way, I feel a bit uncomfortable and sorry for them, but I try my best to console them in the best way I can, and afterwards tell them that they still have a second chance to start again, turn again to God and right some few wrongs.
SA: But frankly, you haven’t met any, as you put it, ‘hostilities’ yet, but do you foresee the song putting you in “trouble” or a deep controversy sometime in the near future.
OJ: It depends on who chooses to have a problem with it. It is just a creative work that I’m using to advice, so I seriously don’t see how it should put me in any trouble. Maybe the video of the song will.
SA: Really? How?
OJ: Because I acted in the video and it is quiet controversial. Drinking, womanising and all that! It will be ready by the end of the month. We’re left with some few shots, so people should watch out for it.
SA: Why did you title the album Nokwasem, and not maybe M’aye Se Mo Pen?
OJ: Oh, I can say that one was deliberate in a way. People who listened to the M’aye Se Mo Pen before its release told me that it will be a hit and I believed their judgement. But I also didn’t want people to concentrate their attention only on that song and leave out the rest of the songs on the album, which are all equally good.
The album, executively-produced by Mr. Charles Sarpong, of the popular Cebex Music Production at Katamanto in Accra, has eight tracks, including Apor Yesu, Tete Botan, Meho Nyinaa, Onyame Ayebi, Domfo Nyame, Mehia Wo and How Can I Say Thanks.
The songs were recorded by some of the industry’s finest hands, such as Nana Kweku Osei (NACY), Dan Bassey (Bassey House of Music) and Shadrach Yawson (Wave Box).
It also feature special appearances by NACY and John Sena, with Kofi Dua Anto (KODA) and Ackah Blay on lead guitar; Bafour (Oblolo) and Dan Grahl on bass guitar; Steve Bedie and Theophilus on the saxophone; Francis Osei and Nana Yaw on percussion; and Osei Tutu, Justice and Kuuku on horns.
SA: That reminds me about one of the songs – Apor Jesu. That song is so unlike you. In fact, the style is different from how we know you. Why that style?
OJ: I decided to do something different in 2001. That was way back. I didn’t want to be branded in the same as many others already in the business.
SA: Why then did you drop it, only to go back for it now?
OJ: I was waiting for the right time to drop it.
SA: So should we expect more of the Apor Jesu-style henceforth?
OJ: My next album will be something different too. My brother, I sometimes can’t even predict myself.
SA: Anyway, what language were the initial lyrics of the song?
OJ: Oh, that is French. (He then couldn’t stop laughing when this writer told him he thought the language was Frafra).
SA: Now the last question. We’ve seen you do a lot of thought-provoking songs – like Etesen and the newly-released M’aye Se Mo Pen. In the context of such songs, some pundits think you are even more than a gospel music. What do you say about that?
OJ: I will say I’m a gospel musician whose music goes beyond church borders. I’m a Christian who lives in a society with people, so they must have a feel and draw meaningful lessons from my creativity. And remember as I’ve always said, I try my best at all times to do timeless songs; songs that will never die even when I’m long gone!
SA: Thank you for your time
OJ: You are always welcomed, my brother!
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