Match made somewhere between heaven & hell

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Joe Machingura

Cape Town – Inter-country collaborations are all the rage in music today.

We have heard Davido (Nigeria) and Jah Prayzah (Zimbabwe) singing “My Lily”; and we have listened to AKA (South Africa) and Burna Boy (Nigeria) doing the business on the song “Baddest”.

The partnerships have done wonders for the international appeal of artists, and have served to bring people of different nationalities together as they sing one song.

Falling firmly in that category is what Namibia’s Gazza did with the likes of Big Nuzz of South Africa on “The Boss” album.

And then there are stranger collaborations.

That of Ghana comic rapper Ay Poyoo and Zimbabwean dancehall chanter van Choga is a case in point.

Their song “Ghetto Rules” has sent tongues wagging since its online release which clocked over 175,000 views and 14,000 likes on YouTube within five days.

Were people rushing to hear good music or were they just curious about the combination?

Van Choga (real name Valentine Choga) is described as a fellow who is one brick short of a load, to put it politely. His dressing and his chants have divided people over whether he is creative or he is borderline crazy.

His partner on “Ghetto Rules”, Ay Poyoo (born Emmanuel Yeboah), came to public attention with his video for the song “Goat”, which places him firmly in the realm of comedy and satire.

Those who have seen “Goat” and have seen Van Choga doing his thing will probably come to the conclusion that this was a match made in heaven - or in hell, depending on your tolerance for experimentation in music.

Mixing Ghanaian slang, Zimbabwean Shona and English, “Ghetto Rules” takes collaborations to another level. Whether or not it is a respectable level is up to the listener.

What cannot be argued about is that it has certainly made the names Ayo Poyoo and Van Choga more recognisable outside their respective borders.

The comments on Van Choga’s official YouTube Channel say it all.

“I fell in love with the song before hearing it but now I am married to it,” says Rodney Thanz Ncune.

Afro-jazz musician Dereck Mpofu also loves the song.

“They said Van Choga will never go international, wakaipa mfana wangu (you did well my little brother),” he says on the YouTube.

Some hip-hop lovers feel Ayo Poyoo has initiated Van Choga into their domain in unique style.

“Van Choga please leave dancehall, hip-hop has endorsed you. This collaboration has added weight to the narrative that Van Choga can do greater things in the hip-hop genre,” says Sihle Marc from South Africa.

The song convinced some audience that Van Choga can continue raising his bar with international musicians.

Joe Zengwa, who gives his location as Namibia, says on YouTube: “It’s amazing, Van Choga is the best so far, I will connect you to Namibian artists also.”

Nelly from Zambia weighs in, “The two choose to be different and the world is noticing them. I have realised it's not about how different and outstanding one chooses to be that makes the world notice them.” 

On the other hand, some say “Ghetto Rules” is meaningless and disjointed.

This could be because while Ayo Poyoo raps about colours that are popular in Ghana’s ghettos, Van Choga talks about what people are doing in a Zimbabwean ghetto.

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