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

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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)

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