As far as deeply engaging intellectual entertainment goes, none comes close to Blakk Rasta’s Timbuktu By Road project.
The mighty multilingual ‘Timbuktu By Road’ album is a multiple award winning one, even at birth, as it has already won the hearts and minds of millions of music lovers, who have had the pleasure of listening to any of the songs on the album.
The 32 track masterpiece consists of two sides namely; the Kuchoko and Kuchoko Dance, with each side consisting of 16 tracks- MAGNIFICENT.
On the album, the Kuchoko legend, Blakk Rasta beautifully explores the ageold African traditional art of storytelling fused with mesmerizing memory sticking melodies, while eloquently conveying powerful social messages.
The 32 track album encapsulates the life of an African, from the cradle to the grave. This is illustrated in Track 6 on the Kuchoko side of the album titled ‘Mama Adeline Sings’. On this track, the Kuchoko legend’s late mother is heard singing a lullaby, the tune of which was used in producing a massive hit song on the same album, titled ‘Dumb Trump’. The lullaby ‘Mama Adeline Sings’ is reminiscent of Blakk’s childhood, and the fact that she ended the song saying ‘shekenan’, which translates as ‘that’s it’ in Hausa to signify an end, then she passes on to the afterlife two weeks later succinctly conveys the message of this physical journey called life – MYSTIC.
Timbuktu By Road is full of mystical vibrations and nuggets of wisdom.
‘Mma Chebsi Ma’ which means ‘mom has bid me farewell’ in Dagbani is one of the tribute songs that Blakk Rasta captivates listeners with, on a journey through his deepest emotional moments in recent years, when he has lost three strong pillars both in his upbringing and upliftment as a conscious African with the interest of humans at heart.
The other tributes on Timbuktu By Road are dedicated to great influences on Blakk’s life, including two strong pillars; his late wife Sakina and his mentor Ras Kimono. In Track 3 on the Kuchoko side of the album, ‘Ashei Lala’, Blakk lament’s the loss of his beloved Sakina and asks ‘is this how the world is?’ The song was also recorded in Dagbani, and reveals an apparent void the loss of Sakina has created in the Kuchoko legend’s life.
His mentor Ras Kimono also receives a befitting farewell song titled ‘Bye Bye Kimono’. The hook of this track has the original style of the man Kimono himself, and is complimented by Blakk’s dub poetry and West African flutes that traditionally typify such great eulogies.
It reflects a lifetime of experience injected into well composed messages in different tongues and melodious sounds, that are beaten loud through talking African drums and other musical instruments, in order to take any listener along a ‘journey of Pan Africanism and consciousness, riding on the wings of good Kuchoko reggae music’; to echo Blakk Rasta’s words.
Track 15 on the Kuchoko side, ‘Jangbari-zo’ meaning ‘a friend who is a rat’ in Dagbani talks about people who parade as friends yet ‘turncoat’ conveniently. We all have such persons in our lives.
Track 12, ‘Agyankaba’ which translates as ‘orphan’ in Akan poses the question ‘who would provide a solution for the orphan’s problems?’. Blakk Rasta begins the song with the statement “no matter how loud the cry of the orphan is nobody seems to hear” implying that ‘you stand alone in times of trial’.
Blakk Rasta’s buoyant African Personality shines throughout the album. Songs like the antiracist anthem ‘Dumb Trump’, ‘Racists in Uniform’ and Nubian Woman convey his Pan African ideals.
In what appears as a fusion of cannabis advocacy, and tribute to Kofi Annan, the staunch ‘ganja advocate’ makes a strong economic case for the legalization of cannabis in Ghana, in order to eradicate poverty in Track 2 on the Kuchoko side titled is ‘Kofi Annan. Blakk Rasta cites the late former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan saying “Kofi Annan say make we legalize it”. Previously released as a hit single, this is is one of the strong songs on the album.
The versatility Blakk Rasta displays on the album leaves one in awe, complimenting his signature dub poetry style with more singing than he has so far done on any of his albums. Blakk also deploys, the biting ‘old school dancehall’ style on the Kuchoko Dance side of the album, subtly evoking humor in songs like the Chinese hit ‘Shifu’, which features Chinese singer Maolin Zheng.
On the Dance side, he demonstrates that dance songs can be meaningful and still be hit dance songs. Track 10 on this side of ‘Timbuktu By Road’, ‘Takama’ is a personal favorite for this reason. The term ‘Takama’ translates as ‘steps’ in Hausa, and conveys an inspirational message on how fleeting life in this physical realm is, while urging patience in our daily endeavors. Blakk Rasta plays the gong-gong on this song, like he does on others on the Dance side of the album.
‘Hajia’ and ‘Dede’ which are powerful hit singles feature on this side of the album too. WARNING: listening to these songs on an empty stomach could cause energy deficiency, as they represent the energetic exertions that the Kuchoko legend is identified with. Perhaps, this is the reason Track 14 ‘Tuo Zaafi’ on the Kuchoko side was recorded, to provide a perfect antidote for such deficiencies.
If you are a lover of female accessories then the story of a lady whose mom bought her waist beads will interest you while you nod and wiggle to ‘ Chagsi Kalanga’
The romantic Rastaman comes through on the album in songs like Tears Keep Falling which features veteran singer Ted I.
‘Timbuktu By Road’ reinforces the view that an encounter with Blakk Rasta instantly reveals a solid champion of the African Personality that Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Prof. Kwabena Nketia, Robert Mugabe and their likes represented.
He informs, edutains and inspires in this album.
We have witnessed ‘schools’ of reggae albums over the years. But Timbuktu By Road is a ‘university’ in its own rights, teaching what authentic African entertainment is, and exactly how it should be done.
Source: ijahra larry chibara