In recent times a controversy seems to have risen about one of the greatest artistes in our downtrodden industry ASEM concerning the joint that incidentally shot him to fame, “Give me blow”. The controversy seems to have been stirred up by an article in the Graphic Showbiz of 26th February, titled 'Axe hangs over Asem's song.'
In the article the writer makes references to the fact that the original version of the track contains certain profanities specifically in the Twi hook “fa wo twedie wo wiem.” First of all, that assertion is totally wrong. It is important that we are clear on what is considered as explicit content and suggestive content. Music is universal and many people lend different meanings to certain lyrics that they hear on tracks. Music with suggestive content is not necessarily profane. It only means that people lend different meaning s to its content.
When Asem says, “Give me blow” and he goes on to add “fa wo twedie wo wiem,” which happens to be a translation of the previous line into Akan lingua.As such the issue of profanity here is subject to one's own interpretation. I don't agree therefore with the writer's notion that the track was profane. After all there are no other lyrics in the track that can be said to be profane. However people seem to read their own meanings into the track and perhaps this prompted ASEM to remake the song.
On the re-mix the writer adds that Asem mentions 'blow' in reference to oral sex. Asem has always proven to be a responsible and matured artiste and he duly released an edited radio version of the track to be played on air and that's what has received heavy rotation on the airwaves. Every dj therefore is expected to have the edited version which of course has no profanity in it. Fellow listeners will bear with me that the 'give me blow' remix version played on radio that we all gyrate to, has no profanity in it. Any avid follower of the music scene in Ghana would agree with me that even the move to release a radio edit was a laudable one and one of the very few times an artiste has taken the time to give the right kind of material for airplay.
Besides here is an artiste responsible for churning out intuitive and inspiring tracks such as 'obra' and 'odo yi wohe' and it would therefore be shortsighted on the part of the GMA to penalize him for doing a happy-go-lucky song. Again the article stated that 'if they [GMA] follow their own tradition they would not put out asem's track for nomination,' and go on to cite instances three years ago when Samini was affected by criticism of “Linda” but lets take a trip down memory lane.
As early as last year, Kwaw kesse's 'odeim' which, in comparison can also be said to contain profane and suggestive content was nominated for “song of the year'. Again Daddy Lumba's 'tokrom' another joint with explicit and suggestive content was not only nominated for Highlife album of the year but the organizers also felt that it merited nomination for album of the year and so did Kwaw kesse's which contained such songs as “odeim' amongst others.
Daddy Lumber's 'Aben woha' though heavily criticized at the time for supposedly being outrageously explicit by a session of the public, was not only nominated but went on to win the award for 'song of the year.' Let no body get me wrong, I'm in no way trying to justify profanity in our music, in fact I believe it is a step in the right direction to sanitize our music, but let's be circumspect in doing so. In 2007 Samini was affected because 'Linda' was seen to be profane and of course the Mzbel saga are all cases in point, but again there is the need to be clear on what constitutes profane content especially where a radio edit has been released.
In any case the decision as always rests in the hands of the selection panel who I believe have the experience and the know how to make the right decision.
My only submission is that, for a musician as hardworking as ASEM, who was undoubtedly the genre defining act of the year and set the pace for many; it would be utterly unfair if he was not rewarded for his meritorious efforts. It would indeed not augur well for the other hardworking artistes who are making all efforts to do the right thing in their music and set a very negative precedence for many upcoming acts.
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