The Message of #IWITP

Note: IWITP (I Wasn’t In The Pictures) is my spoken word song. If you haven’t heard it, the link is at the bottom of this post.

The technological age is really something else. Nearly everything has a digital form now. Online dating, cyberbullying, blogging, vlogging, photo-journalling, and whatnot. And so do the ways our problems manifest themselves.

All this stuff is part of the human condition. (Shout-out to Jon Bellion, the love of my life.) There really isn’t anything new to the human experience. It’s the world that’s changing, not us. Feeling underappreciated was a thing, before getting few or zero likes on a post was there to catalyse it. Envy already existed before someone else’s fantastic Instagram posts were there to make you wish you had what they have. And loneliness, exclusion, solitude – in whatever synonym, this thing that has been the theme of my life for so long – always existed, before the group photographs (that someone is missing from) were there to enhance it.

Everyone’s a photographer now. Social media thrives on its visuals. Often, we take photos of ourselves wherever we are. We use our frozen faces, our permanent expressions to create long-lasting memories. Sometimes I feel like if you went somewhere and didn’t take a selfie while you were at it, you might as well not have been there. Where’s the proof?

This metaphor of exclusion in the digital age is what runs through the entire song – because that’s the best way I could have thought to describe what I was feeling during high school, in the loneliest period of my life.

But pause: possibly the most relevant part of all the lyrics is this repeated one:

“I don’t even want to be in the photos/

I just wish I could have been bolder”

I think this hits right at the heart of the matter. Yes – people were taking selfies and I wasn’t part. But that petty detail is not the root of anything; it’s just the representation of something else. In other words, it’s not the “image” of inclusion that mattered so much; it was the sense of belonging in itself that I wanted. I wanted to be able to be bold enough to insert myself into spaces I wanted to be in, not just hover around the sidelines.

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The bottom lines: if you’ve ever felt excluded, perhaps you can relate. And if you know of someone “who just wants to be noticed”, perhaps you should refocus your “social lens” and try to do something about it. (There were people who tried to do this for me, and I love them!) Because I assure you, it’s not a pleasant experience. In the meantime though…jam!

-Akotowaa

Listen below:

 

What’s VI Music? (You need to know!)

I realize a lot of people who follow me on any platform don’t even know what VI Music is. That’s so many levels of not-right!

Vision Inspired Music (AKA: VI Music) is the record label I am signed to! Yes, with, like, an actual contract and stuff! LOL.

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VI’s official logo

VI Music is actually a collective team of visionaries (pun intended), creatives, and friends, which has grown to be a sort of extended family. We make the kind of stuff we want to see. If that stuff isn’t what everyone else is used to seeing and hearing, that’s okay! It’s a testament to our slogan: “We Do It For The Art!”

There’s a lot to find out about VI Music, and you can do all that at officialvimusic.com. 🙂

What I really, really love about VI is how authentic everyone is! If our styles are not defined, we define them, and give them names. There’s not a lot of pressure to conform to the media and content that’s circulating around the Ghana webs. What feels fine to our hearts is what comes out of us.

Twitter: @OfficialVIMusic

Facebook: Vision Inspired Music

Who’ve we got (that’s currently active)?

Adomaa; Reynolds ‘TheGentleMan’; Robin-Huws; Akotowaa; The band FRA!

Adomaa

She’s currently the most popular VI act. She’s a musical butterfly! She made her debut to the general public with a Baafira-Adonai mashup, and subsequently an Evolution of Gh Music video, which I insist, is one of the absolute coolest videos I have ever seen! (And I witnessed it being edited, ayyyy!)

Since I’m a sucker for hybrids, I’m loving that she calls her genre of music Afro-Jazz! And yo, haters gon’ hate, but who cares? LOL

She released her debut EP, the Afraba EP in January! And the music on that EP was executively produced by TheGentleMan. (You can hear audio signature in many of them.)

Twitter: @adomaa_music

Facebook: Adomaa

So that brings me to…

 

Reynolds TheGentleMan

This guy is legit one of the most underrated men I have ever met in my life! He plays, like, all the instruments in the world (exaggeration. But he plays a lot!) and he’s produced nearly everything VI Music has put out. And he sings too! He has some split-personality something, LOL because Reynolds (the RnB singer, sometimes stylized as Reynolds n Beatz) is different from TheGentleMan (the producer). I try not to ask too many questions. LOL.

So this is Reynolds (the singer) covering his own song, “Come Closer” which he wrote and released in 2014. But this version is better. LOL.

 

Twitter: @ReynoldsTGM

Facebook: Reynolds ‘TheGentleMan’

Robin-Huws

Robin is a soul-crooner who usually won’t fail to put you in your feelings. I know someone who didn’t finish his first solo VI release, “See Her Again” because it was too emotional! Haha. It’s weird because he’s one of the funnest, jokey-est, most foolish (in a good way) people I know, and such fun to hang around!

So this is See Her Again. Try not to cry. 🙂

Twitter: @Robin_Huws

 

Akotowaa

If you want to know who I am, read every single post on this blog. That is all.

LOL. I’m VI Music’s only spoken word artist. But all audio art be audio art, or? If Kendrick and Kanye can do spoken-word-disguised-as-music, I can do same.

Stay tuned, while I eventually popularize the hashtag that I claim as my own: #SpokenWordOnBeat.

This is my first official VI Music release, Anti-Indoctrination. (This isn’t SpokenWordOnBeat, by the way. 🙂 )

It was a debut, but know that better is coming!

Twitter: @_Akotowaa

Facebook: Akotowaa

 

FRA!

FRA! (the exclamation mark is important, okay?) is a band that was formed for and from Adomaa’s act. Remember, her EP was called Afraba? Well, FRA! literally put the ‘fra’ in Afraba! 🙂

They’ve got vibes. I’ve heard lots of comments about similarities to Osibisa, after people listened to “Dumsor”, the generator-powered love story:

Twitter: @TheBandFRA

Facebook: FRA

 

So for now, we are VI Music. Stay tuned, because we are coming with VIM!

-Akotowaa

This Is The Thing You Romanticize.

The poet, he was afraid
to call himself a poet,
wondering if his words qualified
and if practicing the craft was enough.

 

The internet, it spoke
of inner demons countless,
tortured artists abundant,
and pain like it was art’s only fuel.

 

The poetess, she told me
there was nothing to be glorified
for those characteristics
that should otherwise land one hospitalised.

 

I myself once asked,
“Are we in pain because we are artists,
or we are artists because we are in pain?”
And now I answer: Neither.

 

This is the thing you romanticise:
A lie. We did not invite pain
like it was a necessary ingredient
to make us who we are.

 

Before I was accursed,
I was writing.
As I am being set free,
I shall write, and after.

 

If to call oneself melancholic,
constantly wear black, and declare
oneself as troubled is one’s ideal state,
This One is doing Art awfully wrong.

 

I am creation. My God
did not create in perpetual sadness.
He did not create creatives
to strive for chronic depression.

 

My art is not
The Crying Man’s Sole Solace.
It is just that I myself cry;
But you need not.

 

The next time you romanticize
the demons and their poets,
may you be afflicted by a joy so deep
it moves you to bear your best creations.
-Akotowaa

How To Keep Moving, ft. Emily Dickinson

If your Nerve, deny you –

Go above your Nerve –

He can lean against the Grave,

If he fear to swerve,

 

That’s a steady posture –

Never any bend (one)

Held of those Brass arms –

Best Giant made –

 

If your Soul seesaw

Lift the Flesh door –

The Poltroon wants Oxygen –

Nothing more –

-Emily Dickinson

 

Notes about the transcription of the poem: I personally feel like this poem has been sabotaged – after looking at a picture of the handwritten version. I can’t figure out of the dashes are actually meant to be commas or full stops, and I am warring with that strange comma that appears right after Nerve, because I couldn’t find anything more than a mere mistaken mark of the pen that looks more like a full stop than a comma anyway. And there were all these + signs I don’t know how to interpret, and the word “one” missing (which I have added in brackets).

Lately, I have been trying to resurrect an attribute I had, which I used to admire: boldness. Including being bold in terms of doing what you want even if you’re flopping – or shall I say, afraid to flop, afraid of not being good enough. And lately, when I have found myself falling back into fear, it is this Emily Dickinson poem that comes to my head.

I’ve seen some pretty creepy and somewhat far-fetched analyses of this poem on the internet, so I’m not going to go into all of that spiritual-bordering-on-occultist stuff. Instead, I will speak of what meaning I get from this poem by describing how it helps me keep moving.

 

If your Nerve deny you,

Go above your Nerve

What holds you back but fear? Nervousness? What else stops you from achieving greatness when everything else is attainable? What else would make you deny yourself the things you could so easily have? The only thing to do when your Nerves won’t let you be great is to hop right over them like they don’t even exist.

 

He can lean against the Grave

If he fear to swerve

As much as I may be interpreting this in a very 21st century way, what I see here is: “This Nervousness guy can go to hell if he doesn’t want to get out of my freaking way.” I like interpreting it like this. It’s hardcore, unforgiving, push-forward-no-matter-what kind of stuff.

 

That’s a steady posture,

Never any bend

When you let go of your anxiety, you will no longer have a cause to be indecisive, shaky, or anything aside from steady, straight, and steadfast, unbending. And this is my goal.

 

Held of those Brass arms

Best Giant made

When you are steady, you are large – larger than life. The best. You cannot be overcome. To add to the unyielding and steady posture, we have now added the strength and beauty of the Brass arms. My one-word summary of these two lines is: “great”.

 

If your soul Seesaw,

Lift the Flesh door

The only thing holding your soul back – from what it truly yearns for – is your weak flesh. The flesh is holding it back so that your soul thinks it is uncertain. I’m sure Christians know all about this “struggle against the Flesh”. Just let the unnecessary indecision go.

 

The Poltroon wants Oxygen,

Nothing more.

Let your “cowardly” soul breathe. Let it out. Exercise is all it ever needed. Imagine that! The cure to your fear of doing…is to do!

 

So, whenever my Nerve denies me, I shall go above my Nerve.

-Akotowaa