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Review: 99 Phaces – So We Made A Tape

“A single voice can easily be drowned out, but a choir of passionate creatives cannot be silenced for too long, so we made a tape”. This is the message that came with 99 Phaces’ Press Release, the latest to join the collective culture in Ghana. Freddie Gambini, Moffy, Mel, CozyPols, Insvne Auggie, and the sole non-member featured artiste Baaba J, all morph into 99 Phaces, with each individual’s trait and story serving as a brick to this diverse house of collectives. Their debut EP is an eight-track body of work with an attempt to introduce themselves to the world while maintaining an attractive aesthetic of self-expression.

99 PHACES’ stylishness is their greatest asset, the intro “Stand Firm” features Freddie Gambini, Cozy, and Moffy, the trio soars equally on Mel’s never-ending percussions and a foreboding piano loop that fits perfectly with Freddie’s hook, with straight-forward verses from the rest, they offer a sense of hope in their penning skills, with reference from Bad Boys 2 thanks to Cozy’s love for cinema.

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Right after the intro, you can tell how free-falling the project is, it leans and dabbles with multiple genres, from Afro-fusion to hip hop, Alte, and Afrobeats. “Demons’ ‘ is pure modernized Ghanaian hip hop, one of the best traits about 99 PHACES is how every member can create a good hook, Moffy delivers the hook this time while Freddie follows suit, delivering his strongest flow. It’s a similar atmosphere to “Kiddie Time ”, but with a much more daring production and togetherness, a byproduct of obvious chemistry built through practice and repetition. Cozy and Freddie swap in and out on their flows/verses, each piggybacking on the verse before.

The collective has subversive moments on the EP, however, their production, which is handled entirely in-house by Insvne Auggie and Mel, reeks of quality crafting. “Baaba’s song” is just 53 seconds of Baaba J floating smoothly on Mel and Auggie’s gloomy, futuristic production, in her native Ga language, she pens down a gloomy meditation that proves she’s still spontaneous and self-reliant. Halfway through the EP, you can tell Freddie is a “boys boys” type of person, he offers advice to his fellow brothers on “Brotherman”, he always knows how to deliver captivating individual hooks, and like a baton, Moffy, and Cozy take it from there to finish a calm record.

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Beneath all the youthfulness and urge for inspiring listeners, lies a vast space for crooning. On “Sorry”, they channel their inner Jodeci, painting a hip-hop/R&B landscape with heartfelt lyrics that describe a lost love, and its glories. There are enough emotions behind every word to tell this is easily from the heart, Freddie’s hook supercharges a garden-variety breakup with new-wave dread, allowing his fellow peers to pen down regretful thoughts and decisions, they sound hurt, but understand that it’s the price that comes with prioritizing yourself; letting go, the transition to Mel’s interlude sums up one of the smoothest moments on the EP.

The outro sums up every youth’s daily prayer, “Survive” which sees all members as focused and spiritual as ever, with words of inspiration from Kirani Ayat, they make a compelling record about self-fulfillment, seeing things through and tapping into religion’s altar. Just about everyone delivers a standout performance that’s striking at one point or another, even the backing vocals from Anabel Rose and KiKi Celine are pristine, adding extra emotions to the records. For a debut, that’s the perfect introduction, crafting songs that are veering toward a more indistinct territory with a pummeling collection of survival, love, and themes that holds them together, their main reason for making a tape.

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The iMullar is the voice of emerging African music and the lifestyle that surrounds it, showcasing exceptional talent from all around the globe focused on promoting the most distinctive new artists and original sounds, we are the authority on who is next.