C-Real, Cyril-Alex Gockel, is the Ghanaian emcee who won the Channel O’s Sprite Emcee Africa Challenge in Ghana, and finished Second in Africa. Since then, he’s released two mixtapes, “Multiples of C” and “Project Hip Hop”. EMCEO is his debut album, and features many of the best Ghanaian musicians we know.

It’s an important project from a man who is shouldering his way in to be counted among Ghana’s top Emcees. Here’s what we think about the album.

Disclaimer: We must confess that some bits of the album were lost in translation. It turns out that our friend Charles, whom we thought was Ghanaian and could help out with translating the language is actually a Cameroonian pretending to be from Niger.

The 19 Track (16 songs, 3 skits) album starts with a piece narrated by a man we shall call Mortimer Jones, because his voice sounds like it belongs to a man called Mortimer Jones. You’ll know what we mean when you hear it. The first track, Introduction is a serious no nonsense piece. With flows like: “I administer rhymes to beats/Meet ministers, clients then eat/dinners with dams that lay on my sheets.” and “I gives a damn like Hussein, I’ve been laden with pain,” you know the man is here for serious business.

C-Real changes gears immediately afterward with the laid back Chill With Me Feat Chase in which he woos the girl of his dreams. We took notes.

DTA Feat E.L (Do The Azonto) is a song about, you guessed it, Doing The Azonto. It’s a simple laid back tune with catchy sing along rhymes. But the hook had us genuinely confused: “Baby make you say: ga ga, ga ga”. We have no idea what that means. We definitely would not encourage any girl to say that. In a club. In a restaurant. At the beach. But then again, whatever strikes your fancy, boys.

Then almost as if he’s glad to be done with the prerequisite Love and Dance Tracks(1) the next three tracks are straight up hard rap. EMCEO Feat J town, It’s A Rap where he talks about him and hip hop being the ones to put Ghana on the map. GOD Feat J Town and Zeus has that grand epic feel to it.

Then Mortimer comes in again. And we can’t remember what he’s saying because we were to busy wondering which commercial he just stepped out of.

Hustle Hard is a hustle anthem Feat Bebelino, J Town, Gemini and EL. It’s one of the less memorable tracks for us. C Real spat some real stuff on it though: ”I’ve always been a gentleman, Always been into winning things. Always been a simple guy but never been a simpleton.” Nice.

Mission Possible Feat YomDaPoet is a personal favorite. As usually happens with these sorts of collabos (Rapper + Spoken Word Poet) the track belonged to the Poet. “Words should never hurt you. Cuz they will crow about your failures yet feed on your grains and success. They see chicken but they don’t see foul.”. YomDaPoet

Rollercoaster feat Efya is another favorite. The joint effort came together rather nicely. Please anyone who knows Efya should please that the answer is an honest wholehearted resounding capslocked “Yes”. Thank you.

Opeimu is another track that stands out. He features M.anifest on this. We’re becoming fans of M.anifest and he comes through on this with the mature classic flow we’ve come to expect. C Real holds his end down, standing shoulder to shoulder with him. It’s always a good thing when artistes can put together a song, that is about the song, not about ‘who rap pass’ and I think they achieved that admirably.

I’m running in this field of dreams, if I start I finish. Cuz I’m in it to win it . Though it might take a minute. I’m blind it seems cuz I don’t see no limits. If I listen to critics. Then I might just quit it.- M.anifest

I’ve been rocking since last year. Trying to eat my cake and have it, and take your last share. Then rocking cashmere since the cash here, now these cats fear too much change like a bad cashier.”-C- Real

I be the Swag, which follows is porobably the first time in a while we’ve heard the word ‘swag’ without feeling like gagging. Then there’s Hewale Feat EL a song about victory after struggle. Anybody who’s gone through a tough time and come out on top will will feel like their story is being told.

The Good:

First, we give it points for honesty. The album doesn’t start out claiming it will change the game or revolutionize hip hop. From the beginning you get the feel that this is an ode to hip hop. A love letter, if you will, from a man who loves the music and has done his best to be a part of it.

C- Real is a brilliant rapper. Despite the name, there’s nothing crony about him (see what we did?). He avoids the rap cliches as much as he can and sticks to bringing his own original flow to the hip hop game. We see him becoming one of Africa’s more important Emcees as time goes on and he perfects his sound and art.

The Bad:

We’re not sure EMCEO comes together as an album. It feels like he set out to prove he can rap, a trap many rappers fall for. It’s easy to see how this would happen though, afterall C-Real has earned his stripes the hard way. You don’t need an album to do that. That’s what mixtapes are for.

Truth is, with enough time and practice, any rapper can learn to string words together brilliantly but very few have the ability to tell a story with those skills and paint a picture the listener can see.

And that’s what’s lacking here. There is no sense of the man C-real. There’s no story. The album feels formulaic. Rigid. Safe.

Conclusion: C-Real is a brilliant rapper and this comes through adequately on the album. It’s a good body of work with solid features. But put in the context of who C-real is and what it seems he’s capable of, we think it could have been more.



EMCEO by C-Real was released on December 1, 2012, and is available on itunes and Amazon.