The Downs & Ups of VGMA 2018: A Review

The 19th edition of Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA) was held last night, April 14, 2018 at the Accra International Conference center. It still stands as the only music event which Ghanaians, both old and young stay glued to their TV set to watch entirely. It also doubles up as the most criticized music event in Ghana.

Patapaa on the red carpet. Photo credit: Kuulpeeps

Amidst the trolls, disappointments, hilarious moments, and what have you, we always have a good moment and something worth discussing. Without further ado, let have a quick review of the event, shall we?

Charter House, the VGMA organizers are listeners. They’re learning from their mistakes, and correcting them bit by bit. Last night’s show happens to be one of the best I’ve witnessed thus far. As promised, the red carpet session started some minutes into 7 pm, unlike the previous years where it starts hours later. The main event started some minutes before 9 pm and ended at 1:15 am the next morning. This shows that they did a decent job with the time. However, it can get better.

The programme was handled by the MCs, John Dumelo and Berla Mundi. When news broke out that these 2 would be hosting the event, I had a smile on my face, because some of the memorable moments we’ve had at the VGMAs were when Dumelo presented awards. Berla Mundi had been already doing a remarkable job on the red carpet. The pair was fun. The shared jokes, did freestyle raps, and the famous Akwaaba dance, all to entertain the fans. Dumelo, at some points however seemed a little tensed up, but it still didn’t take away complete fun out of the night.

Mz Forson on the red carpet

VGMAs have been dealing with light problems for a while now, but this year’s was quite appreciable to the eyes. Viewers always complaining about the sound was later revealed to SteezeHub.com that it is a setback at the end of GTV, because they transmit sound in mono, producing bad sound. TV3 was the official media partner this year, exclusively showing it, so we enjoyed a better sound (hopefully, they transmit it to a better output). The stage was fairly okay.

Performances this year were comparatively enjoyable. Although there were a lot of satisfactory performances, the likes of Sarkodie, Samini and Stonebwoy stood out. One moment we all surely enjoyed was the comeback of the legendary trio, Praye. The performances which I’d say were substandard are that of Kwesi Arthur and Nasty C.

The downs of the night include the break in transmission when Nana Aba Anamoah was to present an award. Viewers quickly linked it to the bad blood between her and TV3 Network. However, they’ve apologized. Also, some artistes being given more than necessary time to perform. Lastly, the boring nature of most award presenters.

VGMA 2018 shall go into the books as one of the best in all the 19 editions since the awards started. I hope the organizers maintain the standard and work on making it better.

Flowking Stone Pulls A Mammoth Crowd to KCM With Oseikrom Shutdown Concert

Kumasi happens to be a city full of music lovers. However, for years now a mainstream artiste native of the Garden City hasn’t headlined a full concert. The rapper, singer and songwriter Flowking Stone gathered confidence to stage a concert dubbed “Oseikrom Shutdown Concert.” Before the event people doubted he could fill up the venue – Kumasi City Mall (KCM). But the “Go Low” hitmaker was able to prove doubters wrong. In a usual fashion, we review the event.

Performances: Upcoming artistes opened the stage up with short performances. Almost every serious upcoming musician was given the opportunity to climb the stage to display his/her talent. The Bantama Kings Club (BKC) guys and Steez Realm acts really moved the crowd with their energy-filled performances.

The “Problem” hitmaker, Guru brought the heat to the stage, further bringing out his NKZ signee Kin Paluta, who was introduced as the future of Kumasi music industry. Epixode busted some freestyles off the top when he quizzed the crowd to spell Flowking, and he’d use each alphabet to form lines live on stage. I had my mouth wide open when Strongman came on stage and the crowd couldn’t keep calm for a second, completing his famous lines, and singing along to all songs he performed.

The main action came up when the man of the event climbed up stage with a boxing costume, and introduced himself as the MC from thence. He called the “Gbee Naabu” hitmaker up on stage. Yaa Pono made the audience love him so much they didn’t want him to leave. Then came Stone’s brothers, Okyeame Kwame and Kunta Kinte. From ‘old skuul’ to ‘new skuul’, the artistes excited the crowd so wonderfully, and yeah, it was my first time watching them perform “Ksi Boys” live. Okyeame did an awesome thing by rapping to the audience’s handclap. Teephlow performed his hit songs, and brilliantly taught the audience to sing along a song which features Stone off the “Phlowducation EP.”

In all, I’d say performances witnessed would give a typical music lover satisfaction, but leave him/her a desire for more.

Stage, Lights and Sound: The stage was well mounted, and was fairly wide. It was clearly strong, as some dancers stomped their feet hard on the stage but didn’t give any sign of breakage. The lights were bright, well enough to see the crowd, and whoever was on stage. Good execution for the lighting! Spending most of my time backstage, I almost thought the sound was trash till I struggled to enter the crowd session and realized the sound was actually okay. There were technical hitches that wouldn’t let the event flow smoothly. It was the major down of the event, as it kept the background organizers very busy.

Although they’ve worked throughout the Christmas festivities, the MCs saw to it that the audience coming out to show support was not wasted. El Presidente and a host of others were on fire last Saturday. As usual, the DJs were unstoppable from doing what they do best.

Timing: Knowing well that the event wouldn’t be able to hold till daybreak, the event which performances started at 9:30 pm didn’t start early enough. There was a tall list of performers, so it’d have been better if it started earlier. The show had to end abruptly when there were a number of artistes backstage who had not performed.

Flowking Stone received the love he wanted, and was successfully able to hold a concert of his own, with the help of Bie Gya Bitters, Special Ice Mineral Water, RentAir, Zoomlion, Indomie, Icy Cup, etc. We only look up to the next great thing Flowking has for the garden city.

 

Photo credit: @twinsdntbeg @swagofafricanews  

Thousands Fill Up Baba Yara Sports Stadium For DJ Slim Invasion; A Review

It’s very rare to see a disc jockey being celebrated in Ghana, lest to even think of staging an event, especially in Kumasi where event organization has become a hard nut to crack this year. The low patronage of events in 2017 in the garden city didn’t stop the Supreme Bigger Figure, DJ Slim from having the guts of staging an event— an event which blends A-list musicians with the upcoming. 17th December, 2017 will be a date written in the history books as DJ Slim invaded the city, filling up the Baba Yara Sports Stadium with a turn-up of thousands of people. The headline sponsors, Bie Gya Bitters did an excellent work, together with all the other sponsors and supporters. The Steeze Hub team was present to cover the event, and we bring you a detailed review of how the event went down.

Timing: Although it was inscribed boldly on all the flyers that the event was to commence at 6 p.m., even a newborn could tell that it was just a formality. The culture of Ghanaians, hence the Kumasi audience is to arrive late for a concert. If the time for the event is written as 6 p.m., they read it as 9 p.m. However, the organizers were able to set the place up before 8 p.m With a line-up of star-studded performances, the event wasn’t expected to take a couple of hours to end. The people were entertained and kept on their feet till 4:50 a.m when the curtains were closed on the event.

Performances: DJ Slim is known to be a huge force that brings artistes into the limelight. So for him to put up a concert, it made sense that he made the platform an avenue for the upcoming musicians to exhibit their talent to the thousands that had gathered. The stage was opened by hardworking rising acts such as Bantama Kings Club (BKC) artistes Kofi Jamar, Obey and Sketchy, also Boss Bouncy and Slim Biggie YO, Hotboy DNA, Ratty, Amerado, Braa Benk, Ayesem, Lord Paper, and a host of others. These great musicians paved the way for mainstream acts who made sure the people were entertained to full satisfaction, till the list was exhausted.

Ko-Jo Cue and Shaker brought the heat when they performed their solo songs. Eno Barony climbed the stage with Master Garzy and some sexy dancers who made a lucky guy have a memorable night when they ‘twerked’ on him. Arguably, the one who holds Kumasi music down currently, Flowking Stone came on stage, and proved why he’s a wordsmith and a beast on the mic. He surprised us when he brought along his brother Kunta Kinte. It was a pleasure to witness them perform “Simple” together. He ended by calling out LJ who proved his tongue-twisting abilities and gave the Hip-Hop heads a refreshing moment with his “5th August” track.

The ‘outernational’ guy as he refers himself, Mr Eazi then came through to set the place ablaze with bangers upon bangers. Yaa Pono who I thought would be the last performer delivered as always. He happens to be a frequent collaborator of DJ Slim, so the connection is that deep. Hits after hits, the “Gbee Naabu” hitmaker performed till Slim joined him on stage. The biggest surprise of the night came when Gemini brought out Edem, and together they gave us a special delivery. When we thought all had ended, the ranger, Joey B was called up on stage. Beezy is known for not walking alone, thus he came with Darkovibes, and they sealed the bag of performances excellently.

Stage, Lights and Sound: The stage was large enough to accommodate the musicians, dancers, and whoever they came with. The lights provided were appreciably bright that even when our camera batteries ran out and the flash lights couldn’t function, we were able to capture the moments successfully. The sound was good enough that the audience at the rare could appreciate it. At a point, I stood at a section and I couldn’t bare the vibrations from the sound. Then I realized the place was designated for people to not stand there. At a point there were some technical hitches that put a pause to the programme but it was resolved immediately. However, I can’t give a complete account of the sound in general, because I was mostly at the stage area.

MCing and Djing: The MCs for the night, El Presidente, Kwame Scientific and Papjay007 did a marvelous job. It’s no joke engaging an audience for that long. El Presidente saved the show by quizzing the audience with an accapella of popular songs when there were technical hitches.

In between the performances, DJ Slim took over the turntables where he delivered a Hip-Hop session, and claimed his throne. DJ Aroma was exceptional that night. The gifted DJ could play an old gospel song and follow it up with a Hiplife song and still excite the crowd. The veteran, DJ Chiefaro also delivered satisfactorily.

We had great show. One that hasn’t been witnessed for a long time. DJ Slim continues to reign supreme. A big thank you to him and Bie Gya Bitters for staging a successful concert for the people of Kumasi. Merry Christmas!        

Words by Joseph Aqweci Ofori

Review of Paapa’s “Technical Difficulties Vol. 1” EP by AlexRepGH

Paapa has not done any major work after releasing the highly acclaimed ‘Songs for Kukua’. All his fans were more than excited when he announced his new project, “Technical Difficulties” on his Twitter page.  I mean who wouldn’t be? In his new project, he releases them in installment, and the first one is a 5-track EP. Paapa does nothing but classical, soulful music, which touch the soul, reverb and leaves an everlasting impression. And I bet you, his new project is nothing different from his usual.

He starts off with a great love song. It’s very difficult, perhaps a technical difficulty, to find out who really loves you in today’s world, in which the clause ‘I love you’ means nothing anymore. On ‘How will I know’, Paapa tries to address this difficulty; he tries to solve it maybe. Today, love has turned to be mere lip service. This is what Paapa meant in the opening line of ‘How Will I Know’- ‘Oh I heard you say you love me.’ He goes further to warn that, those are very heavy words and that we should be ready to keep your words in difficult times. ‘Would you be ready to carry these heavy words when they start to hurt?’ This rhetorical sum up what real love is supposed to be. ‘How will I know’ addresses one difficulty. This is not the only difficulty Paapa addressed on his new project.

Another very popular one, which could be right in front of you, is also addressed. On ‘Infront Of You’, Paapa talks about how dreamers stay dreamers. Today’s world is made of millennials who keep wake, dreaming big enough to change the world. Some of them are kept busy with their dreams such that ‘their pillows have been kind to them, but their mind won’t let them be.’- They are sleepless, ‘anxiety [about the future] so loud’ that they ‘can’t hear GOD’s symphony’. This act of most millennials is changing the globe for the better, but Paapa warns the millennials, and all dreamers alike, that they should be careful of the dreams they dream. He implies the possibility of never achieving one’s dreams, probably due to lack of focus. The words of a wise man that ‘Don’t let dreams blind you’ ‘Cause you go miss what dey infront of you’, were just the perfect choice of words to get the warning across effectively.

Back in high school, there was a book which could literally solve all mathematics questions. On the third track of Technical Difficulties 1, Paapa wants someone to call Aki Ola to answer certain questions. The questions posed have nothing to do with mathematics however, but everything to do with broken homes resulting from wars. Domestic wars, civil wars have undoubtedly created more broken homes than fictional love has created broken hearts. For this, Paapa calls on Aki Ola, who’s the king that Paapa presumes knows everything to answer all his whys. Aki Ola could also be any father who leaves a mother helpless and a child fatherless. The latter is not uncommon in today’s world, and Paapa could technically be using Aki Ola to address this issue.

Even though ‘Losers’ sounds like the result of all the difficulties addressed by Paapa so far, it has another theme on its own, which likewise addresses another difficulty the globe is facing. In a world where everyone thinks they are right, no human value- respect, honesty, obedience, and others, is left. Everyone is trying to win, in the end we will all be losers. He addresses scorn and pride on this track. You know, I know. We know we both would lose everything if we all try to win, but we try still. We can solve this, definitely by being together.

This brings us to the last track on the EP, ‘Together’. So let’s sing it together. Let’s dance together. ‘Let’s do this life together’, ‘Eat cake and have icing together’. Paapa suggests on the last track of the first instalment of his new project that, unity does the impossible. He admonishes everyone to forgive and forget and break bread together. He believes that if we do everything together, the world would be better- perhaps he would not need to address all the difficulties the world is facing, as he has done in the first four tracks. The best place on this earth is together!!!!

Without any doubt, the first instalment of Technical Difficulties is a masterpiece. Talk of JaySo’s mastering and that Adomaa’s mellifluous voice on ‘Infront Of You’ completes the work as nothing but a classic. Hope you enjoy it too.

Please make it a point to cop it when it drops!

Written by: Alexander Kwakye