Kobi Onyame – Gold (4 stars)

Kobi Onyame: Gold

Glasgow-based Ghanaian hip-hop artist enters fresh territory with his new release

Kobi Onyame is by no means a new face in the Scottish contemporary music scene, with two albums behind him and an impressive resume that includes support slots for the likes of Kanye West and Nas. But with his new release, Gold, the Glasgow-based Ghanaian rapper has entered fresh territory, and in doing so, firmly positioned himself at the forefront of Scottish hip hop.

Gold is not your typical modern-day hip hop record. It refrains from falling into the trap of over-production and over-saturation, instead relying heavily on West African sounds and rhythms for impact. The references to Ghanaian highlife and early Fela Kuti are apparent throughout, such as in the colourful 'Imminence (Only Matter of Time O)' with its dynamic brass accompaniment and twinkling percussion section. That brass plays a prominent role on Gold is a nod to the heavy involvement of horns in traditional highlife and serves to give the album a vibrancy that lifts it immensely.

Elsewhere, guest appearances add an interesting flavour to some tracks, for example the mellow 'Chosen Ones' with Ghanaian rapper M.anifest and 'Wedadi', on which the velvety vocals of Heir of the Cursed run in parallel with Onyame's own melody, coalescing seamlessly in between his rapped verses. Closing track 'Still We Rise' does something similar, with Wanlov the Kubolor's rhymes working in response to Onyame's and vice versa. The track epitomises much of the album's primary themes: the idea of fighting for what you believe in and remaining vigilant in the face of adversity, a notion also seen on the wonderfully empathic 'DMCRZY'.

Gold is an intelligent record in its defiant lyrical commentary but it also creates an interesting bridge between Onyame's Ghanaian heritage and hip hop / grime leanings, resulting in a sound that is both warm and sonically rich.

Out Fri 1 Sep, self-released.

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