Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Losing Rhythm: Strange Story Behind the Making of “Life Dey Jom”

"Life Dey Jom" - M.anifest, Wanlov the Kubolor & Kwabena Jones (Play/download)

First off,
i was surprised at how popular this song is back home in Ghana when i last touched down this past January. It actually plays in clubs - whoa! shoutouts to DJ black (Joy FM) and Dj Edu (BBC 1xtra) who have kept it on rotation.

Second off, and getting to the point of this piece, the weirdest thing happened to me recording this song, "life dey jom." And by weird i mean a deeply surreal occurrence i hadn't experienced prior to writing this song, and thankfully i haven't ever experienced in the aftermath!

The Scene
'Twas October of 2007, both Wanlov and myself had just released our debut records “green card” and “manifestations” respectively. In celebration of Wanlov's release, we did a show @ the Shrine, in Harlem NY. Kwabena Jones (aka Bosco when he's on the beats) was kind enough to let us stay at his jersey city abode afterwards where he has his studio.

After shooting the breeze and being shocked and awed by Kubolor's hooping abilities, we thought it'd be a good idea to write some songs. Bosco (kwabena Jones) went through a whole bunch of dope beats he had crafted and we eventually settled on this one: the bassline stuck out to me and the Rhythm was distinctly hip-life. Fast forward. After i was done writing my verse - and quite ready like freddy to record it - i couldn't for the world of me hear the beat the same way i heard it when i wrote it!!?!?! it was surreal, frustrating, and i damn near thought my sense of rhythm had been infiltrated by some martians. The clever little verse i had just written all of a sudden sounded off-beat! It happened so suddenly and that's what perhaps made it terrifying. Twas as if i had slid into a well of confusion and couldn't see anything in this particular rhythmic universe that surrounded me – with regards to the song that is. All i could think was “Dayum, why on earth? my mind is playing tricks on me” © scarface. And no we weren't puffing herb u doubting thomas u.

as we proceed.
I told Bosco about it, and very reluctantly recorded my verse. It just didnt sound right. But since my collaborators were not perturbed, i thought i would sleep over it and maybe like Jesus on the third day i would be back to normal. About 4months or so later, Bosco gives me a call with excitement reeking from his voice talking about how well folks were receiving the song. All good. He sends me the finished the track and oh goodness, i still couldn't hear it the way it was supposed to sound. I actually begged him a number of times to take me off the track cause i thought i sounded offbeat! What worse than to ruin a yet to be solidified reputation with an underwhelming performance. Yep, i was that desparate.

Lazarus Moment,
Fast forward a few days later, a friend of mine came to visit after she just returned from a trip to Ghana (What up Susie). Chopped it up a bit and slid into the topic of highlife. Decided to get an unbiased opinion of the song to shake off my paranoia. Song comes on, and i hear it exactly as its supposed to be heard. Makes absolutely no sense and i can't even fathom hearing it any other way. Nwayz, i filed it under “never-shd-happen-again” and kept it moving. Weird, i know.

I decided to liberate the joint – Bosco, chale i beg mek u know kill me ooooo :)! Enjoy it, play it to impress your african friends, play it at all your african soirees, and send the link to a friend. And keep this story between you and i shhhh :)

Peace Peace

m dodotido

* Life Dey Jom translates as “life is going very good” or “life is jamming” in more literal terms


MadWaxer said...

the song dey be!

Matthew said...

you know which tune did that to me? remember the kartel tune? the first couple times mi listen it, I could NOT catch the beat. I remember I finally got it the time I played it for you in the car, and I remember exactly where we were. Heading uptown from 94 and were just passing the downtown exit to the metrodome.

bung bang! "I need you girrrrl, i love your styyyyle"

M.anifest said...

Matthew, Do u still have that tune? Need it!

susie said...


chuchu said...

thanks for the song!
could the issue have been the speakers/output thing that you used to listen to the songs? Perhaps the different beats were stressed differently...

Papa Baffour-Awuah said...

Ha! Tope, this is My song Manye! Well "Gentruman" is my song first Then this, but they all fall under Ivy League in my book!