How Bradez’s ‘One Gallon’ Never Run Out Even After a Decade By Patrick Fynn
Yesterday’s hit is today’s classic. We become die-hard fans of musicians for what they have proven in past times. But unfortunately, we embrace the trends of today with so much excitement that we inadvertently suppress the goodness of yesterday deep down the grounds of the past.
I happen to have come across ‘One Gallon’ by Bradez and Okyeame Kwame a couple of days ago, and the song seems to give off more excitement than it did years ago. I have since then not been able to resist the urge to digest it. It’s past a decade since the release of the song, and if it has stood the test of time, that is enough reason for us to go back to our first love.
Okay, so how do we do this? Let’s start with Appietus’ drum kick.
The way the engineer hits the percussion brings so much life into the song right from the word go. After Appiah monopolises the first eight seconds to cling his tools against one another, he hands the microphone to Okyeame Kwame to play an important role. It would be listened to as a mere musical piece, but that gesture was more ceremonial than an intro. It was like an induction service as Bra Kwame presents the crew on the track. Kunta and Stone were new, it was their first time; someone needed to hold their hands and lead them. So senior brother, as is also mandated by his ‘Okyeame’ title did the introduction: “Bradez bɛma wo ti awoso, Kwame bɛma obiaa akoto, Fredy bema wo ho apopo, Appietus bɛma obiaa abɔso”. And there’s a voice from the other side sounding like Kunta, making emphasis; or probably warming up into the song.
And then the first promise is fulfilled when a sensual female voice does justice to the chorus. It gave us shivers! Throughout the 6 minutes journey of the song, she plays a liaison role of connecting the various parts of the song to make a complete piece.
We hear Appietus follow closely with an overlay of carefully struck notes that keep you wondering what comes next. The sound engineer seemed to have fallen in love with himself, enjoying his well-crafted beat as he kept striking white keys after black ones.
Once the song starts, you sit up; you have to! The keyboard melody which pecks right after the first kick at the beginning runs through the song till it fades off at the tail end, leaving you without an option but to replay. The composition of the beat won’t just permit you to do anything below that. An underlay of hums from the strings of a bass guitar keeps you nodding, especially when they accompany the rap lines. Those were the days Appietus was in his elements.
In the leading line of the first verse of his refix of Sarkodie’s ‘Revenge of the Spartans’, Flowking Stone is heard saying, “It was in 2005 when we dropped One Gallon. Count! You want to make an argument without facts!”. To whoever that was meant for, Stone meant to say that they have been around since the time of Adam. 2005 is a long way coming. But that will be hard to admit, because ‘One Gallon’ appears like a song recorded two months ago.
It is without doubt that it is one of the best written songs of our time. . You can’t take it away from them. The three gentlemen stuffed the song with all the creativity and literary devices you could think of: rhymes, proverbs, personification, simile, pun, irony, analogy and what have you.
The concept is a clear case of love and its associated mistrust, heartbreaks, etc. It is all coined into a metaphor and the definition of love is likened to the use of a car. The theme runs through the song unchanged, but each rapper had his method of dealing with the subject matter.
Kunta sounded like the kid he was. His voice was soft and young. But we loved his maturity with the wordplay. For a boy that small in size and age to have said all such ‘mpanyinsɛm’ in this song was overwhelming. In our part of the world, we assumed it required a lot more experience to be able to discuss the topic of love. But Kunta Kinte did it so well, wittingly and creatively with all the rudiments you will find in a good rap.
All that he did in his part of the song was to make a humble plea and a registration of his unending love to the love of his life. His lyrics make it clear how he has fallen head over heels with a girl who is portrayed as a pretty damsel with an overly, overprotective father. Doesn’t this remind you of the admirable dance moves he did in the music video?
And he suspected we will pick on him for indulging in adult games, so he is quick to put up a defence: “ɛwo mu sɛ me sua, mennim akoma sɛe”, meaning “I may be young, but I don’t break hearts”. So lovely!
There’s not much change in Stone’s lyricism. ‘One Gallon’ gives him out. He seemed to have possessed his current finesse, several years ago. The song is past a decade and his prowess then isn’t any lower than what he recently did on ‘Fire Bon Dem Remix’. He makes a preamble, recounting his sour experiences with love, and that he has been frustrated, apparently making him lose hope. Therefore he confesses plainly, his readiness to quit any such relationship. “Wo ma me adwendwen a, ehoaa na y’atwam tenten!”
Having said that, he proceeds to assure his beloved of a happy relationship, full of spending, trust and love. It is so gorgeous how he fades his verse with a plea not to be disappointed.
The climax of the song is where the rap doctor comes in. He mentions that meeting a woman for the first time can be likened to acquiring a new car. Checking brake fluid, oil and water levels is homologous to maintaining a personality. Without a traffic jam, the driver speeds off in what happens in a new relationship – full of fun. And there comes the moment when fuel consumption becomes bothersome, amidst breakdown of the car parts. Here, OKyeame relates to the moment when marriages and relationships are visited with irregularities, requiring third-party consults with friends (a mechanic in the case of the vehicle).
The problems reach a crescendo, and finally ends up in a fatal accident! That was the point I doffed my hat for the man in the mix! Appietus literally caused an accident after several brake attempts failed. It’s in the song. It’s there! Go back and listen for the car passing, start, brake, speed and collision sound effects. They are all over the song to add effect.
The Hiplife tune was composed so well that it gave the brothers a break-out. It was a one-time hit! Check the records – it got all the airplays in those days. Well, it was not the kind of song that would get people rushing to the dancefloor or get the schoolchildren screaming, but it was what any true music lover would want to listen. And it is the kind of song that will get the writers writing, even after 11 years and counting,
Considering how much weight this song pulled, I honestly think it’s long overdue that the group did a remix of the track.
We love to forever see you boys in the game, so keep the fire burning – no disappointments, no gimmicks no 419!
By Patrick Fynn
Follow the author on Twitter: @PatrickFynn