Rock The Mic Vol. 1 is a classic compilation first released in 2005 of hip-hop music from Lomé, Togo, and Cotonou, Benin on the Asrafo Records label. Featured on the compilation are MC’s Avénon, Eklin, Elom20ce, Easy Mo & CK One. Hailing from Togo, Benin and Cameroon, the compilation is in both English and French. The entire album is now available as a free download. Read on for the story behind this album. Props to Sub-Z for the translation!

Free download link:
Cover download: front / back

1. Intro (1:39)
2. Avénon, Elom20ce & CK One – Rock The Mic (3:07)
3. Avénon & Eklin – Survivants (2:38)
4. CK One – Testament (2:18)
5. Avénon & Elom20ce – L’Amoure Est Mort (3:13)
6. Eklin & Easy Mo – Des Larmes Dans La Voix (2:16)
7. Cheik Anta Diop – Falsification De L’Histoire (5:56)
8. Elom20ce – Légitime Défense (5:38)
9. Eklin, Elom20ce & CK One – Rap Pur Et Dur (2:33)
10. Avénon – Indépendant (4:15)
11. Thomas Sankara – Discours Sankara (1:29)
12. Eklin – Révolution Poétique (2:13)
13. Avénon, Eklin, Easy Mo, Elom20ce & CK One – Afrikstyle (2:25)
14. CK One – Why (3:42)

For the love of Hip Hop…

Everything started with a discussion at Martyrs’ Square, at the monument materialized at the intersection at Bob Denard, along with other mercenaries in Cotonou, to contain the imperialism in the middle of the cold war (January 16th 1977).

If the walls had ears, and if that monument could speak, it would relate in detail the extent of the fever of our debate and the passion that animated it.
Facing the simplicity with which rap poured itself into Lomé and Cotonou, Easy Mo and Elom20ce decided to approach some rappers to produce a mixtape, which should set the record and straighten out the arms on the clock.

Thus we organized a meeting of MC’s of which Avénon, John Folas, Joshua Tatu, Eklin, MG, Easy Mo, CK One, Master X, Amédaho and myself took a stand. After some financial misunderstandings and a couple of other defects, it would come down to 5 MC’s who form the fingers around the hand, which reunite to form a fist around Comlan Ogou (he who recorded and mixed Rock the Mic Vol.1), officiated on this mixtape.

Easy Mo, CK One and MG played a special role in picking the samples for the instrumentals (even though MG no longer participated in the project beyond that point, it suits to mention him, as he played an important role in cycling through a majority of the instrumentals.

Out of need for our independence, and how we wanted to record our mixtape, financial resources were needed, where everyone contributed in equal value, our financial modesty kept in mind, Rock The Mic Vol.1 (title which Easy Mo suggested, and accepted with no debate) was recorded in one day in the studio in 8 hours of time.

It was therefore necessary to train… Every Sunday with Avénon, the 5 warriors would reunite to freestyle, write and repeat, this repetition went on for almost a year. Theoretically Rock The Mic Vol. 1 had been ready for a moment; it was therefore necessary to commit the violence and record it (the day before recording we had not been able to muster the entire sum, which Comlan had demanded)

We returned there nonetheless, and after explanations he accepted that we record. I will relate the ambiance of our séance of scriptures and the recording there of in a later article for they were special in every aspect. In 6 hours, a moment to breathe was compromised, as we finished recording Rock The Mic Vol.1, with most recording their verses in “one or two takes”…

I remember that night like it was yesterday, We put everything we had in finances into that mixtape, to the point we had to walk to get home (approximately 15 kilometers. For those who know Cotonou, we walked from the Fifadiji Market to the Fidrossè near the beach).
The mixing of the tracks is a story in itself as well, CK One wanted a light mix, to keep the character raw and alive, others on the other hand wanted a better mix in order to reply to the expectations of our population that were not, according to them, ready to seize the spirit of a raw mixtape.

We had taken the risk, and it was done in a raw manner, we had to explain on the radio what a mixtape was, and that which followed…
Rock The Mic Vol.1 did not have the desired impact. The big lesson learned is that after recording and mixing, more funds are needed to broadcast the tracks on rotation and launch a spectacle. We never had these funds…

Disappointment and irritation by the way side, Rock The Mic still remains, standing the test of time and still packing all its originality and freshness…

From 2005 to today it continues its journey… Today, CK One works and lives in Cameroon with his wife and children. Avénon continues his career within Jonkey Zoo with John Follas his alter ego. They have recently signed with the label Millimètres, to appear on a mixtape « Rebels au Mic Vol.1 » with Al le Bourreau. Their album, inshallah will be in stores soon…

Easy Mo continues his studies, back and forth between Lomé and Cotonou, this bold lion would like to carry the toga to defend the oppressed in a more official manner. Eklin returned to Cotonou in the framework of his studies after some past time spent in Lomé always on the quest for knowledge, adding more techniques to the family. Together with Elom20ce he forms the core of the crew “Tribu des Asrafo”, which is a cultural branch of Hip Hop, a pan African project, making it a point to honor the human integration of the African people beyond the institutional norms and regional groupings. This kernel feeds the ambition to give Rock The Mic a brother. This project will be based on old French instrumentals, instead of old American ones on the first project.

Despite the various obstacles that stand in front of him, Elom20ce is working on his solo album, his first and maybe his last. Entitled “Légitime Défense” this opus will be the history of a life, the chronicles of a decorated era of slashes with a lot of hot peppers… Simultaneously he continues the fight through the reinforcement of his competences…

Rock The Mic Vol.1 paid homage to Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Al Green, Thomas Sankara, Cheikh Anta Diop and many others…
Music is a weapon, as once said by Féla Anikulapo Kuti… Africa or death will overcome us!

Lomé on Friday, February 13th 2009

Dedicated to the Dangereux Dinosaures (Sitou, Lasmo, Koffi), RAO Staff, Subz-Z, Lumumba Studio, Poq Industri and all the anonymous ones, who support truth and liberty…

Video: Elom20ce – Légitime Défense

Video: Avénon – Indépendant