Tribute to Ebony

This is not a news report to tell you Ebony has kicked the bucket. I’m sure by now you’ve heard it and even seen pictures of her lifeless body. Upon hearing the news, I was so sad and couldn’t bring myself together to write a blog post. But when the adrenaline settles, writing is my only therapy.

To wake up on a Friday morning to this sad news is totally heartbreaking. She had really got to her peak, and was ready to take Africa by storm. It had been a very long while since we had a female artiste reign above the equals. Last time we saw it was Mzbel. Ebony was more promising. Amidst all her sexually-appealing performances, we loved her. You’re actually reading this article because you care about her.

All humans are bound to die but we didn’t know this is how Ebony would go — through a fatal accident on the popular Accra-Sunyani motorway, specifically at Mankranso as reports reach us. And oh! she didn’t die alone… a popular Twitter influencer I follow Franky Kuri has also passed away. She happened to be her good friend and personal assistant. Also, a soldier who happened to be her bodyguard with the name Atsu Vondee died in the collision.

I don’t want to hear any pastor use her death as an example to solidify their point of living a quiet life, and not rushing in life, and whatnots, though I’ll hear it. Some may even say she lost her life because of her sins. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death, but we can’t be so judgmental. If we all understood God’s ways then at least someone could prove to me why all these porn actresses are walking around with healthy lives.

For the first time we were going to have a solo secular female artiste win VGMA Artiste of the year. It saddens me she’ll not be present on that stage to take her own trophy, and enjoy the glorious moment. Oh somebody play me Methodist Hymnal 672 “Till We Meet.” Even though Ebony was a success at being the leader of “bad b*tches” and so-called “slay queens” she had a positive side to her. And I’m not even going to refer to her songs “Maame Hwɛ” and “Aseda.” If you look beyond the smoke of fame surrounding her, you could see a truly positive side of her.

No person deserves to die at such a young age! With her talent, no one could accurately foretell the future. She was just starting. Who knew what the future held? But for now, it’s just a lof of R.I.P’s and “May her soul rest in peace” statements. This thing called life… One day you’re the greatest, the next day you’re just a gathering of dust. We pray for all her relatives and very close friends. You feel the pain more than any of us! Your words would’ve been more emotionally felt if you wrote this article.

Priscilla Opoku-Kwarteng, damirifa due

May your soul rest in peace.

Till we meet…

Words by Joseph ‘Aqweci’ Ofori

Bryan The Mensah Emerges As the Come-Up of the Week On Y FM’s “Lift Off” Maiden Show

Bryan The Mensah

The “Lift Off” show is a radio show hosted by Koo Sebor every Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m on Y 102.5 FM, Kumasi. The show has 4 segments which include “Come-Up of the Week”, “30 Minutes of Fame” and “The Score.” The Come-Up of the Week segment has been designated to celebrate and appreciate the good works and hustle of an upcoming artiste who is doing his best to put him/herself in the limelight with the little resources available to them. On the maiden show of the Lift Off, the creator of “Friends With the Sun” EP, Bryan The Mensah happened to be given the spot. Bryan The Mensah is a young artiste and producer who through his hard work and determination elevated within a short while to become Apple Music’s Favourite New artiste of the Month in September last year.

Producer, iPappi

The show also saw an interview with ace music producer, iPappi who’s collaboration with Stonebwoy for the song “Loyalty” is making huge waves. iPappi is a Kumasi-based producer who has worked with a tall list of great artistes, and upcoming as well. Of this list includes, Jesse Jagz, Edem, E.L, Stonebwoy, Ko-Jo Cue, Kuami Eugene and KiDi, just to mention a few. He shared his experience in the music industry, and what he has to offer the world.

Rapper, Bra Clem also came on the show to spit some bars off the top as he always does it. The Source segment had 3 learned young men as far as entertainment is concerned in the seat. Sedem Hayford Benjamin, Mensah Jnr AKA El Presidente (An MC & radio personality) and Aqweci Steeze (founder and administrator of SteezeHub.com) discussed record labels, and commercial music. A lot of knowledge was dropped in this segment.

Make it a point to tune in this and every Saturday to have a good radio experience with Koo Sebor.

Darkovibes, Kwesi Arthur & How the Internet Blows Up Artistes

In 1990 public internet didn’t exist. The only means of reaching fans were through television, radio and shows/tours. Fast forward to the 2000s the internet has become a global network for connecting people around the world. People spend time on the internet more than having conversations offline. The world’s richest were able to achieve that height because they created a dot com business. The internet has come to change music, its consumption and artiste-fan relation. Getting intimate with fans is just a Facebook Live video away, and making news is just by a 280-character tweet. People don’t queue for albums no more, it’s streamed or purchased online. Streaming platform managers and curators are the real illuminati of music. Apple Music, Spotify and the like are the new record labels.

In Ghana, people have taken time to study how the internet could be used to market their craft, and have made it work for them. I won’t take you so many years back. Let’s have a look at last year, we saw many acts rise up on the internet circles of music, and gradually turn it to a solid fan base and some good cash. Amongst those acts are La Meme Gang members, Darkovibes, RJZ and Spacely. Also, Ground Up’s Kwesi Arthur. I’m sure it was a difficult task for them, because social media is a world where people who can’t even speak in public become loud mouths. Digital gangsters and keyboard mobsters are quick to come at artistes online and rain insults on them because of very small issues.

These guys were shown love, and bit by bit, day by day, their fan base grew till traditional radio started accepting them and giving them some airplay. When they were struggling to get heard these guys never sent any email to bloggers at all (I stand to be corrected), neither would they share links to their songs from blogs (well, unless it’s DCLeakers). They’d just upload their songs on SoundCloud, and push it via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and they were quite okay with it.

With the repetitive sound that Ghanaian music had been experiencing lately, the creatives used the opportunity to take over with pure talent and a wavy style appreciated by the youth. They gave a new definition to Afro-Trap, Hip-Hop, Trap and Afrobeats. The youthful music consumers of Ghana today have an ear for adventure. They get fed up listening to monotonous sounds on the mainstream media, hence pay much attention to what SoundCloud and YouTube rappers and singers have to offer.

Darkovibe’s “Tomorrow” wasn’t an overnight success. Neither was “Mercy.” I saw him perform to a crowd in Legon in 2017 who looked at him like he a noise-maker and jumping grasshopper. In that same year, every corridor had echoes of “Tomorrow” and the people wouldn’t stop chanting when Darkovibes stepped on stage with the song.

Kwesi Arthur was seen bare-chested spitting bars in freestyle videos all year. You could feel the pain in his verses, and sense the struggle in his voice. He kept on doing that till much attention was given to his hit single “Grind Day.” Today, Kwesi Arthur has been endorsed and featured by Ghana’s ace rapper Omar Sterling. BET award winner, Sarkodie has delivered a free 16 to the remix version of “Grind Day”. And only Lord knows the songs he’s sitting on as I type this.

I love Spacely’s “Digits.” Serallio (a hangout in Osu, Accra) wouldn’t keep it off rotation. RJZ is easy to point out because of his model figure — six packs, dyed hair and melanin-rich skin. Song by song, they’re taking over the music scene and serve as threats to those on top. If with the internet they’re able to host their own sold out shows, and be placed on bills, then I can only wonder where they’d reach if much capital is invested into their art.

Internet has worked for some artistes, and still works for new acts as time rolls by. You can also be a success off the internet.

Words by Joseph Aqweci Ofori 

BossBae Set To Release “Disease” EP, Featuring Epixode, Rudebwoy Ranking & Others

Stoner Record’s frontline act BossBae is ready to take over the scene with ‘Disease EP’.

The album which features dancehall giants like Epixode, Rudebwoy Ranking, Tsoobi and Nigerian act Toff Pandis promises to be one of a kind with BossBae’s ingenuity and one of a kind talent.

Affectionately called ‘International Bad Gyal’ by her fans, the ‘Disease EP’ is made up of 7 tracks which shows different sides to the Dancehall queenmother.

BossBae rose to limelight in 2016 with her cover of the famous ‘City’, originally performed by Alkaline and followed up with singles like ‘Bag A Hole’, ‘Ask Di Police’,’Tell Nuhin’ which featured Alvan Brown and a couple of awesome videos.

Although the release date is yet to be announced, BossBae promises that this year is certainly going to be fireworks as she has lots of works in stock for fans.

VGMA 2018: Reasons Why Dhat Gyal Should Win Unsung Artist Category

For the past few months, there has been a new revolution in Ghanaian Afrobeat/Hiplife and Dancehall as well. And I wouldn’t say that this young female artiste invented “MashUp” sessions, but I can boldly say that, Dhat Gyal brought life into MashUp in Ghana. Ever since she showed up with her first mashup in the latter part of 2017, Dhat Gyal has stayed relevant and consistent till date. Below are reasons why Dhat Gyal should be nominated and win the unsung category in this year’s edition of Vodafone Ghana Music Awards:

Dhat Gyal is the first female artiste whose mashup has never been sponsored on Facebook and YouTube, but gets over ten thousand views in a day. With less than 48hrs of anticipation on her mashup, Dhat Gyal commands a lot of views. This shows how people appreciates her talent and signifies the number of people who stays waiting on the mashups.

Dhat Gyal is, so far, the youngest Afro pop / dancehall artiste in Ghana with most likes on her Facebook page and I repeat, no sponsored posts, but gets thousands of new followers anytime she makes a post.

Dhat Gyal is the only youngest Ghanaian artist whose first official single was randomly taken by Opera Entertainment news and was the most liked post.

Dhat Gyal is the first artiste to trend on YouTube as number 2 with Big Shaq’s “Man’s Not Hot” at number one. It has become a promotional tactic that, artistes do not release songs when there is a bigger meat on the plate. On the day that Big Shaq released his most awaited video for his hit song, the management of Dhat Gyal took the risk and dropped her mashup, just to test the waters and lo and behold, Dhat Gyal did not only surprise us with her unimagined Facebook views, but this time, came number 2 to an international artiste on YouTube.

 

You can follow her on the various social media platforms to verify to the above and testify that, Ernestina Afari; Dhat Gyal, as you may know her, deserves to be nominated for this years edition of Unsung in Vodafone Ghana Music Awards and we promise you victory. Let’s start the hashtag #DhatGyalVGMAsUnsung.

Ps.: Facebook – Dhat Gyal  (www.facebook.com/dhatgyalmuzik)

Twitter – @DhatGyalMusic (www.twitter.com/dhatgyalmusic)

Instagram – @dhatgyal_africa (www.instagram.com/dhatgyal_africa)

YouTube – Dhat Gyal Africa

The Rise and Fall of Patapaa

Many artistes have come and gone. Some became legends, others were one hit wonders. I am beginning to fully believe that making a hit doesn’t have to do with a strategic formula. Sometimes it happens with luck, and the fame comes by chance. That’s the best way I explained to myself when Patapaa’s “One Corner” started making huge waves in the country, and spread like a virus. For a song which I couldn’t honestly listen to the end because of horrible production, that made me feel like getting exposed to something I’m allergic to, I least expected it to be appreciated by any ear. But the Ghanaian audience is unpredictable, hence it’s no magic for “One Corner” to become a nationwide hit, a party stopper and our soundtrack to a new favourite ‘crazy’ dance.

“One Corner” began making its way into people’s hearts and ears when social media accepted a dance which involved getting into an outrageous position to throw one’s waist around, with the song being played in the background. Anytime the DJ looped “One Corner” in a playlist, he/she was ready to contain the extreme crowd reaction. ‘Grindin’ at parties were redefined when the song of the moment came on. Radio started blasting the song on rotation, and would repeat it several times. Walk around, and it was as if pub operators were all instructed to entertain their customers with the song. Bloggers who were fast enough to upload it on their websites probably laughed to the bank those months. Yes! Patapaa’s “One Corner” was a massive hit. So massive that it ended up 4th in Google’s rankings in Nigeria. Now that’s news!

In an interview Patapaa granted to Joy News, I realized the guy may not look smart but his explanation to the concept of writing “One Corner” was intelligent, however he himself may not know. At every point in any artiste’s life, he/she can make a hit song, but to maintain that top spot is the deal. The musician who hails from Swedru quickly erupted to the top of the food chain, however we didn’t see him play a lot of shows in the concluding months of 2017. Why? He can answer best. But from where I sit I can boldly say it’s due to poor management.

Artiste management is very key in the commercial world. In essence, managers are in charge of running all aspects of the business side of an artiste’s career. Apparently, Patapaa’s manager and/or management team (if he even had one) was/were not serious and didn’t know how to handle the music business. At a point, Mr Meister, Ghanaian manager for international act Mr Eazi, realized how successful “One Corner” was in Nigeria. Meister arranged a meeting with Patapaa’s manager to see how best they can organize a tour in the country with the largest population in Africa, but the latter stood Meister up. Probably, he thought Meister wanted to use the brand Patapaa for his own financial gains. Other event organizers complained about huge charges proposed by the manager when being asked for a bill to perform. That’s why you didn’t see the young man’s picture on a lot of flyers this recent Christmas.

In this age where hit songs have short life spans and non-lasting expiry dates, it was unnoticeable watching “One Corner” get lost in the heat of the moment. The song doesn’t cause a much electrifying atmosphere anymore. His other follow-up singles are unknown. I’m not saying that’s the end of Patapaa, neither am I a prophet of doom. Don’t be too quick to tag it as hatred, I’m just being real. We’re in a new year which comes with its own competition. Will that be the end of Patapaa? Can he make another breakout song? Can he capture the feet of Ghanaians once more? We live to see.

Words by Joseph Aqweci Ofori 

Artiste, Luther Rebrands to LUTA

One of the smartest career moves is to be re-branded just as companies, non-profit organizations and even as government institutions do. With this, the former local artist Luther has been re-branded to an Afro-Pop/Reggae artiste with showbiz name LUTA.

As part of the artiste’s re-branding, he has gained a managerial body, Purple Soul Multimedia to move his career further.

In an interview with LUTA, he disclosed that he is a different person now. Though people know him very well with the former brand and label name Luther, he has developed significantly and brings a lot to cooperate Ghana and various stakeholders in the entertainment industry both locally and internationally.

According to the Afro-Pop/R&B artist, the world should look forward to his first single yet to conquer the airwaves on 1st February, 2018.

If you want to take your career to the next level, you need to re-brand yourself. You need to make it easy for peers, colleagues and employers to see your experience and recognize the value you can add to their projects and/or companies. In short, you need to make them want you.

Label name is still Luta (LuuGang) but under Purple Soul Multimedia with LUTA as brand name which takes effect today January 16, 2018 of which the public are urged to note.

E.L Has a Reason to be Mad at XXL Africa

E.L Has a Reason to be Mad at XXL Africa

On Friday, Jan 10, 2018, XXL Africa Magazine released a list of Favourite Hip-Hop Artists in Africa for 2017. And this is how the list goes:

  1. AKA
  2. Sarkodie
  3. Cassper Nyovest
  4. Phyno
  5. Nasty C
  6. M.I
  7. Kwesta
  8. Ice Prince
  9. Emtee
  10. M.anifest

XXL is a very popular American magazine, and as they spread their wings towards Africa, they decided to unveil this list via their Twitter account. The list actually went unnoticed in Ghana, before the country’s very own, Elom Adablah, popularly known as E.L reacted to a tweet quizzing people what they think about the awards.

From an insulting reply he gave to a Ghanaian music fan, everything indicated that E.L wasn’t happy about the list. The question is, does E.L really deserve to be in that list?

Let’s take a look at E.L’s musical journey, to answer the question well. The VO Nation signed artiste came into the limelight by slaying hooks for mainstream artistes, back in 2009. His breakthrough songs were “azonto” songs. Talk about “Obuu Mo Na” and “One Ghana.” Fast forward 2013, E.L put out a classic Hip-Hop mixtape titled BAR (Best African Rapper). He then followed with the mixtape-themed concert, the BAR Concert at the Alliance Francaise in Accra. Fan favourite, “American Passport” earned him the Best Rapper award at the 2014 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMAs).

The sophomore to the BAR sequel was widely accepted, as it breathed life into the Ghanaian Hip-Hop scene. And that was just a year later. He revealed in BAR II that he had to sell out on his first love Hip-Hop to be able to grab the attention of the masses by doing a lot of Afrobeats, but he really wanted to serve Hip-Hop to his fans. He held a better concert at a larger venue, World Trade Center, in Accra. The event brought together all Hip-Hop acts and fans to have a moment that had been lost for so many years in Ghana.

He didn’t sleep after that, releasing BAR III and IV in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The BAR mixtape series has become a tradition. Although the latter didn’t generate huge feedback from audiences, it doesn’t affect the fact that the music was actually good.

None can emphatically state that E.L is not a good rapper. Technically he may not be the best, but for someone with brilliant delivery, blessed with literary techniques, lyricism, and an ideal voice, what more can you ask for?

E.L hasn’t done much outside Ghana, not even in South Africa and Nigeria, but has done a lot in Ghana as far as Hip-Hop is concerned. He still creates lovely Afrobeats songs, despite claiming to be a Hip-Hop act, and that’s what critics have against him. But you can’t blame the “Koko” hitmaker. In an industry like Ghana’s, an artiste may have to compensate by having an alter ego of himself in a hitmaker character.

Hip-Hop is not accepted nationwide. To keep relevance in the game, he decides not to do solely Hip-Hop, and that’s E.L’s master plan. He wouldn’t have won 2016 VGMA Artiste of the Year if he didn’t have “Mi Naa Bo Po” and “Koko” (both Afrobeats songs) on heavy rotation, although he released the well accepted BAR II that same year.

2017 wasn’t such a good year for E.L as far as Hip-Hop is concerned, but so was the case for a number of the acts on the list, such as M.I, M.anifest, and Ice Prince. The Osu Mami president would have been a good fit for the Favourite Hip-Hop African Acts list. XXL Africa Magazine is clearly now gaining grounds in the continent. For a brand that released this list via their unverified Twitter account with less than 2,000 followers, I wonder why E.L is going haywire over it… and why am I even still typing this?

Words by Joseph Aqweci Ofori 

Video credits: Ameyaw Debrah, E.L (YouTube)

Why Sarkodie May Never Win a Grammy

Undoubtedly Ghana’s most decorated musician, BET and MTV award winner, and one of the most influential personalities of our time, Sarkodie has hinted several times about his desire to win a Grammy— on “Original” and other songs. Upon being the African rapper with the most awards, Sarkodie believes the highest he can go is to kiss a Grammy trophy. But I always wonder if that’s possible.

I thought Michael Owusu-Addo (real name) had given up on those dreams till quite recently, in a freestyle with Strongman, he made that statement again. Has Sarkodie really taken time to think about the possibility of him walking up that stage to grab the award?

Angelique Kidjo

It’s quite sad to face the fact that there are only 7 Africans who have won Grammys since the awards show started in 1959. GRAMMYs happens to be the most enviable and topmost awards scheme in the world presented by The Recording Academy. That’s to say if a musician wins a Grammy he/she is considered to have reached the peak of his/her career. It’s noticeable that the only categories that African performers are able to occupy and win are Best World Music Album and Best Contemporary World Music Album categories. The history-making musicians who have won Grammys as Africans are: Ali Farka Toure (Mali), Lady Smith Black Mambazo (South Africa), Tinariwen (Mali), Youssou N’Dour (Senegal), Wouter Kellerman (South Africa), Soweto Gospel Choir (South Africa), and Angelique Kidjo (Benin).

In 2016, Stonebwoy’s “Livingstone EP” was considered by The Recording Academy but couldn’t make the final nominations cut. Same happened to Blakk Rasta this year. This year, the closest Stonebwoy can get to a Grammy win is if Morgan Heritage wins the Reggae Album of the Year. Rocky Dawuni happens to be the first Ghanaian to be have a full nomination, in 2016, but he lost out. And Killbeatz? His alleged Grammy nomination is debatable.

Considering Sarkodie, a rapper (and once-in-a-while singer) who does the genres Hiplife and Hip-Hop, he stands almost no chance of winning a Grammy. Looking at the list mentioned above, they do mostly traditional and folk music filled with indigenous cultural sounds and rhythm. The closest Sarkodie has been to that is his 3rd studio album, “Mary.” In my review of “Mary”, I made mention that I thought Sarkodie would use the live recorded Highlife/Hiplife album to reach the Grammy heights he has always been talking about. But the body of work didn’t make a huge impact even in Ghana.

Hip-Hop is an untouchable genre as the United States rappers themselves compete very keenly even to gain nominations. I mean, a legendary rapper like Nas, and the current generation’s favourite, J. Cole have no Grammys to their names. So who is Sarkodie to go near that spot? To hit the nail right on its head, Sarkodie’s music does not suit any category in the Grammys as it stands. The only way he can get close to winning a Grammy is if he does pure cultural music which makes an impact in the whole of Africa (which I doubt is going to happen), or if The Recording Academy creates another category that will favour him. Another chance is to get featured on an album nominated (and won) in a category which is awarded to all featured artistes. Till then, Sarkodie’s Grammy dream may forever remain a dream.

Words by Joseph Aqweci Ofori

Who Will Win 2018 VGMA Best New Artiste?

Over the last few years, the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA) Artiste of the Year spot has been a clear cut that you don’t need Baba Fakunle to foretell you who the winner would be. Let’s cast our minds back over the past 5 years. In 2012, Stay Jay was the winner, 2013 – Kaakie, 2014 – Joey B, 2015 – MzVee, and 2016 – Kofi Kinaata. It was only last year that Fancy Gadam took us by surprise when everyone thought Medikal had worked enough to earn the crown. Apparently, home support for the “Total Cheat” hitmaker was off the roof.

However, this year we have a different case. This year has been a year that saw new artistes spring up across the globe. And it’s no different in Ghana, as most major hits we’ve had this year were made by rookies. I can mention 5 potent contenders for the spot of VGMA 2018 Best New Artiste, all of whom are deserving winners – KiDi, Kuami Eugene, Kurl Songx, King Promise and B4Bonah. These acts worked very hard, paying their dues to the game, and in turn gaining nationwide hits and deserved attention. Usually, artistes nominated for the Best New act category have only one breakthrough song. This time, these young people have packed at least 2 hits in their bags.

KiDi

KiDi, the Lynx Entertainment signed artiste has “Say You Love Me” and “Odo” (both the original and remix version with Davido and Mayorkun) to his name. Kuami Eugene struggled to break through the nationwide market with “Boom Boom Bang Bang”, “Hiribaba”, “Show Dem”, “Ebeyeyie” and “Fadama Boy”, till he finally had the people’s favourite, “Angela”. Kurl Songx had his breakthrough when Sarkodie spat a line which made the Krobo tribe furious. Whilst people shared different opinions on the tribalistic-driven line, the song “Jennifer Lomotey” became popular. He had another follow-up titled as “Whistle” with the same rapper, Sarkodie. Like this wasn’t enough, he delivered another banger with the most buzzing artiste this year, Ebony, entitled “Feeling.”

King Promise after a glut of features, slaying hooks, finally had us dancing to his self-owned song “Oh Yeah”. “Hey Sexy” with Stonebwoy was a miss. He then bounced back with “Selfish”, which is gradually gaining grounds. B4Bonah had everyone singing along to “Dear God”. He then collaborated with King Promise, giving us “My Girl.”

There are a couple of acts which you’d question me as to why they didn’t make the list, including favourites Kwesi Arthur and Darkovibes. The two didn’t garner much success compared to the artistes mentioned previously, coming out with only one hit song each which didn’t do well across the country. We saw Darkovibes perform to a stadium crowd who didn’t know his song. I bet you have a lot of relatives who’d legit ask you “who’s Kwesi Arthur?”

The big question now is who will be the best new artiste? From the VGMA board, The New Artiste of the Year is the Artiste(s) adjudged by the Academy, Board and the General Public as the most promising and talented emerging artiste (s). The award goes to a relatively new artiste(s) who released a SINGLE/ALBUM that FIRST shot the artiste(s) into the limelight during the year under review.

Lynx Entertainment artistes have been pushing for their acts to win some awards and recognition which sometimes they don’t even deserve. In 2014, MzVee was the Unsung Artiste. The following year she was the best new act (deservedly). Kuami Eugene announced his presence by winning the Unsung Artiste in 2017 when I couldn’t even mention one of his songs. So this drives me to the question, will Richie and his crew use their influence to overcome the others?

Some say KiDi leads the pack because he’s the only one who has been able to break through a non-Ghanaian market i.e. Nigeria collaborating with Africa’s favourites, Mayorkun and Davido. Kaywa, who happens to be part of the management of Kurl Songx also has a great influence in the game. Will that have any effect on his chances of winning? Would B4Bonah’s inspirational song see him through to kiss the trophy? This is a question that would be on our lips till the fateful night of the 19th Edition of VGMAs.