The African hip-hop scene is home to many talents, that are relentlessly committed to making it a global brand. One of such talents is Ghanaian rapper Ko-Jo Cue. His latest extended project I’m Back bears his tireless efforts at making sense of hip-hop on the continent, as he seeks to engrave his name in the hearts of enthusiasts of the genre.
Born Linford Kennedy Amankwaa, Ko-Jo Cue has been in the artistic game for a while. In 2014, after joining Accra-based label BBnZz, he dropped The Shining mixtape. His 2017 collaboration with Shaker on his critically acclaimed Pen & Paper album. This caught the attention of Lauryn Hill as he secured an opening slot on her tour. In 2019, he released a solo debut For My Brothers, which won him critical acclaim and several accolades. Outside music, he has taught at the University of Ghana, and he is currently an independent artist and a senior consultant/country manager for ARTSPLIT Ghana.
Ko-Jo Cue’s knack for storytelling follows the traditional pattern of ancient West African griots. He is confident in his African identity as he considers himself an African storyteller with a neo-colonial voice. Evidence of this is found in his lyrical style which is usually profound, evocative and imbued with a string sense of social consciousness yet nonjudgmental. Combining elements of hip hop, highlife and Afrobeats, the rapper tells relatable stories with philosophical nuances.
I’m Back is Ko-Jo Cue’s comeback following a 2-year hiatus. In this 7-track project, he features some of Ghana’s finest rap stars Kwaku DMC, Strongman, YPee, Kweku Smoke, Joey B and Ria Boss, all of whom give the project an eclectic feel. The EP begins with Mac Tontoh, featuring Big Homie Flee, an opening track dedicated to those who have had an impact on the artist’s adventure through life. Part of the opening track is a brief Islamic recital, which is a recognition of the artist’s belief in Almighty God as his ultimate muse .
The second track of the album, Someway, warns against phoney lifestyle. In the third track, Free Throw the artist talks about overcoming challenges. This survivalist attitude is carried on to the fourth track 32 where the album emphasizes the need to enjoy life to the maximum.
In the fifth track Okay Okay, the artist explores ambition and perseverance. The conversation continues in Cedi Kasa as the artist provides thoughtful social commentary on the challenges of the nation. As the project glides towards an end, the artist shows up with the Ria Boss-assisted Happy Endings, a concluding track that explores the unpredictable nature of life and death, personal tragedies, and the futility of chasing fairy tales.
Only 24 hours after its release, I’m Back topped the Apple Album Charts, which is a testament of the promising re-emergence of the rapper. With the album covering relatable themes like self-expression, hustle, celebration and carpe diem, Ko-Jo Cue creates a special place in the hearts of his fans.
Ko-Jo Cue’s I’m Back is reminiscent of Michael Jordan’s 1995 iconic comeback from which it derives inspiration. More than a mere title, the album is a forceful statement of intent as the artists is not only returning to the game but also keen on rebranding it to his unique taste. From raw rhymes to complex flows and technical expertise, the project is a conscious effort at reconnecting with hip-hop roots.
Listen to the album now.