The Ghanaian rapper follows up his 2022 EP with a new one that stays in touch with his Kumasi roots, kick starting 2023 with components from his last project, strong storytelling marred by matching production from his camp. Kweku smoke has been keeping the trap alive since his breakthrough, building a chemistry with A-Town, Hordzi and JUICZXXX, three pillars that have helped mount his sounds to consumers.
The melodic rapper has been internalizing his craft since his breakthrough, getting better with time and upgrading his skills as an Asaaka rapper, who barely leans on the structure of Drill. “Old Compound” is sheer proof, most moments one the EP finds Smoke in a contemplative mood, still processing his daily movements, every step of the way. He sounds like an OG who has seen it all on “Hope”, he kicks the EP off with a heartfelt verse, still processing his good fortune whiles reminiscing on the hard days, with thick bass lines and steel drums from Juiczxx, Kweku coasts on the production with ease, doing justice on the intro with no sweat. Kweku’s ability to steer his will on a beat is what makes him one of well modernized rappers in the country, “Stay Alert” sounds like a fair warning, with production details that pay homage to hip hop’s trademark, booming speakers. He is trigger-finger ready, with cool headed flows that slides with easy fluidity, the production highlights his chemistry with Hordzi, making three records for the EP, a duo whose bonding is forever. His production functions as both a compliment and challenge , giving smoke’s unwavering chill a prestige rap and eliciting some of his best performances.
“Akatanii”is surprisingly, not a drill record as you’d expect, the song’s production bridges regional styles, with a flute that hails from the world of trap music, its presence sprinkles melodic vibes to the song, allowing him to simmer down and flow at his own pace, he sounds like street-wise preacher, walking the line between reporter, preacher, gangster and citizen. He’s a bit religious here, willing to embrace his vulnerable side, with how tough the Ghanaian economy is, but in the midst of alll this, he sounds positive. There’s just a slot for a feature, and it goes to Kuame Eugene, yes Kuame Eugene, the last name you’d expect on a Kweku Smoke project. He sounds unrecognizable as he brings his hiphop side to “Be Mine”, floating through the misty bounce of Hordzi’s craft-work. You’d expect more from Lynx crooner, who sounds a bit incessant here, but Kweku’s flow connects with him to serve as the missing piece for an almost emo-rap record.
As hard as Kweku Smoke sounds, with all the street philosophies and rules, some of his best moments are on his love songs, his crooning skills on “Meaa” is the perfect foil to tales of a ride-or-die girlfriend, he sounds so confident in his lover, calling bluffs about how she would never leave him no matter the situation he finds himself, his singsong lilt is almost perfect, singing in a slack, intrinsic tunefulness that suggests he could probably be a decent R&B/Trapsoul star, it’s easily the best song on the 6-track EP. But he doesn’t croon for long, on the final song, his delivery heightens on an already-sharp storytelling model, it’s the most vividly written song here, “Lamborghini” puts maximum spin on him and his engineer. Equipped with melancholy piano-backed instruments that bounces off his singing skills, his stories which are mostly centered around poverty-stricken upbringing that led to a life of hustle and bustle, he still finds harmony and peace in his victory lap, with a typical twi sense of humor that glows throughout the records, He aims higher and seems to have more tunes for us, especially with this bond with his right hand producers.
In all this, Smoke still lacks an original vision, he is skilled with parroting popular styles, which is okay, but seems to still be on a quest to land his trademark own, a feat he seems to be searching still.But this doesn’t discredit the fact that he is a good rapper, Smoke is forever inspired by the street’s ways, and once the streets are up, there’s always going to be a story to tell, from his POV, which is widely loved by all.