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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
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, 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.