Perhaps it is most pertinent to begin with a paraphrase of a statement made by Essenam Deblos, Co-Director of yoyo tinz, a few days prior to the release of the third volume of their annual Valentine’s Day mix, Oshun:
yoyo tinz started invoking – and celebrating – Oshun (the Yoruba Orisha of beauty, love and fertility) with these mixes of love songs before Beyonce’s Lemonade.
Well damn. And so true. It is definitely important to look at the politics and history of this mixtape. Formed three years ago, every year the yoyo tinz crew hits us with new inspiration during February, the prescribed “month of love”. Now, it would be fantastic to talk about love with no political strings attached. However, in this West African context where rap – often noted for active practices in misogyny and hypermasculinity – is involved, it also becomes relevant to consider the politics of how love can also mean business.
The mix definitely does come through with a lot of thick bliss – from liquid poetics to energetic melodies (even bringing sounds through from Nigeria and Kenya). Ironically, the mixtape laments a bittersweetness about unrequited love or love gone awry. The “sprung” ones are left pining and aching for that good-good. #Bewarethepepper! Always bringing the critical analysis – it is significant that yoyo tinz has been able to consistently curate love songs that are generally thoughtful and emotive – and such a departure from the banal sounds saturating the radio airwaves.
If there is any critique to be made about the mixtape, it’s this: although named for Oshun, there are only a few women musicians featured. YFM presenter, actress, and feminist theatre producer, Nana Akosua Hanson, pointed out this contradiction on the day of the mix’s release – basically, how a mix dedicated to a female deity is almost entirely composed of songs by male artists. The irony is glaring.
Inasmuch as this situation is reflective of how overwhelmingly male-dominated the secular music environment is in Ghana, I suppose that moving forward, it is incumbent upon yoyo tinz to find ways to increase the inclusion of women music artists on future Oshun mixes (as well as yoyo tinz platforms).
As always, Oshun (produced by DJ Vim Tinz) is chock-full of vibeliness. Be sure to download and vibe!
-By MOSHOOD BALOGUN