This article was published on Loud Sound Ghana (https://loudsoundgh.com/2016/01/2015-the-year-in-music-review/)
Whoa! Wonderful how the year 2015 welcomed us and waved goodbye within a short measurable time. Ironically, a glut of occurrences surfaced in the year. I hereby take the stage to walk us through the 2015 musical journey. This article has been divided into 6 sections to ensure I leave no stone unturned.
Every person who updates his/her playlist will have a huge folder of songs, as musicians, both mainstream and underground didn’t rest their heads on their pillows. Personally, I was impressed with the kind of songs that were released last year.
The commercial songs were well produced and composed. The top genres in Ghanaian music took a step ahead. The year began with hits from the previous year and was largely taken over by Gasmilla’s “Telemo” which had massive airplay throughout the year.
Stonebwoy’s “Go Higher” was on replay at pubs, beaches, etc. Then taking a curve down the year, Wisa’s “Ekiki Me”, Atom’s “Yɛ Wɔ Krom”, Bisa Kdei’s “Brother Brother” + “Mansa” and Shatta Wale’s “Kakai” + “Hol’ It” took the spot through to Christmas. Let’s look at other songs that had the airwaves bumping:
· “Shelele” by E.L
· “Skolom” by VVIP
· “M’akoma” by R2Bees
· “Revenge of the Spartans” by Sarkodie
· “Come Over” by Stonebwoy & MzVee
· “Wo Onane No” by Kwamz & Flava
· “Pimpinaa” by Obrafour
…just to mention a few.
Newcomers sprung up to exhibit what we’ve been missing. Ko-Jo Cue’s “Lavender”, Shaker’s “M’adakraa” and Mr. Eazi’s “Bankulize” made it on top charts.
|Mary Album artwork|
In the first half of the year, no popular & appropriate body of work was released till E.L blessed the industry with BAR II, a sophomore and a sequel to BAR mixtape. Then the bigwig, Sarkodie released a live album titled after his grandmother, “Mary”. Other albums released included:
· “Breaking News” by Samini
· “Verified” by MzVee
· “Making Tasha Proud” by Jayso
· “Captain Hook” by Shaker
· “Songs of Solomon” by Ofori Amponsah
· “Breakthrough” by Bisa Kdei
· “Yenfii Ta” by Daasebre Gyamena
· “ELOM” by E.L
…and others. Metrics are not checked in Ghana, hence it’ll be difficult to determine who sold what units, or which album had the most impact in the music scene.
However, the most well promoted, known and outstanding album happened to be “Mary”. Rocky Dawuni’s “Branches of the Same Tree” which is a personal favorite came as no shocking news to me when it got nominated for Reggae Album of the Year at the 58th GRAMMY awards, because of the greatness of the project.
Visuals of some songs caught the attention of people and were left flashing in the mind’s eye of viewers. Splendid photography shown by videos such as Sarkodie’s “Special Someone” and Guru’s “Pooley Swag”, wonderful special effects displayed by Episode’s “Avatar” and Sarkodie’s “Mewu”, great choreography exhibited by Kwamz & Flava’s “Wo Onane No” and VVIP’s “Skolom”, and captivating story line by D. Black’s “Setewa Dɛnkyɛ” only give a picture of the diversity proven by Ghanaian artists.
On the flipside, there’s a negligible number of ‘slept on’ videos, and one which I can’t leave unmentioned is Red Red’s “Ghetto”. Video directors like X Bills Ebenezer, Nana Asihene, David Nicol-Sey, Justin Campos, Lex McCarthy, just to mention a few, have to be commended for the brilliance they displayed in 2015.
The year experienced a great deal of events. Beginning from Freedom Concert in Kumasi, through to Decemba 2 Rememba. Annual events were hosted, as some got better, in contrast, others got worse. Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA) 2015 suffered poor quality delivery.
4Syte TV Music Video Awards probably may have been the worst show the year witnessed.
From stage lights, to sound, continuity and timing, everything was just negative. The technicians and control officers obviously didn’t execute as expected of them. GN Bank Awards however arguably stands as one of the best programmes organized in the year.
Empire Entertainment maintained the respect for their brand as they put up 2 of the best of shows including Tigo Ghana Meets Naija and Back in the Day Concert.The former was however a bore due to non-creative stage performances by the billed artists. The 2nd edition of BAR Concert was headlined by E.L. The event brought together almost all Hip-Hop artists and lovers in one venue. Other satisfactory organized events included Efya’s Girl Talk Concert, S-Concert, Loud In GH, BASS Awards, and others.
As Hip-Hop grows in the country, it is quite notable to be aware of the battle rap leagues which are gaining feat like Lyrical Wars and Headnodders.
The year tasted all sides of the yearly fruit… good, bad and ugly. It was good news to all when Stonebwoy got nominated for BET African Act award and actually won it, being the first African Dancehall act to pick up the award. Others including Sarkodie and MzVee were also nominated but lost out.
R2Bees and Sarkodie were chosen to perform at SXSW Music Festival in Texas, which is known to be one of the largest musical conferences around the world. The “Illuminati” hitmaker also sold out a concert at Apollo Theatre, NYC dubbed History in the Making.
Reggie ‘N’ Bollie caught the world’s attention by contesting at 2015 X-Factor and emerging finalists. Afro-Dancehall artists Stonebwoy and Shatta Wale reunited as brothers at 4Stye TV Music Video Awards. Led by Yvonne Nelson, musicians, actors, actresses and media personalities unified to organize a vigil dubbed #DumsorMustStop to demonstrate against the power cut incidences the country is facing. This call to action influenced the nation positively.
Not to forget about the bad, thus, the flop of Di Gorgon Concert at Trade Fair, Accra headlined by Burna Boy, the Sarkodie-Ace Hood mix-up which came as a big blow to Sarkodie’s brand. Also, at Tigo Unplugged Concert in Kumasi, Flowking Stone burst out with statements against the organization and individuals such as George Quaye, which led to a campaign hashtagged #KumasiMustRise, indicating that Oseikrom artists need to be treated fairly. And for the first time, Sarkodie, Shatta Wale and R2Bees, 3 heavyweights boycotted the VGMA’s. Shatta Wale and his former manager, Bulldog parted ways.
The ugly involved the demise of rapper Ghetto KB, Bisa Kdei’s mother, Stonebwoy’s mother. May their souls rest in perfect peace.
Ace broadcaster, KOD also survived a horrific car accident.
Ace broadcaster, KOD also survived a horrific car accident.
Wisa of “Ekiki Me” fame became the most talked about as he exposed his manhood on stage while performing at Citi FM’s Decemba 2 Rememba concert. Currently, he has pleaded not guilty to charges brought against him by the organizers.
At the gospel front, songs such as “W’afom Kwan” by Patience Nyarko, “Hyɛbrɛ Sesafoɔ” by Obaapa Christy, “Hour by Hour” by SP Kofi Sarpong and Kofi Gyan’s “M’asem” gave listeners spiritual inspiration by gaining much popularity all across Ghana. Well-structured albums put out involved “Hossana” by Kwadwo Kwadwo, “Aposor” by Nicholas O. Acheampong, “I Believe” by SP Kofi Sarpong and Obaapa Christy’s “Hyɛbrɛ Sesafoɔ”.
At the African Gospel Music Awards, Ghanaian gospel acts stood out, as KODA won Producer of the Year award, and Cwesi Oteng took home Artiste of the Year (West Africa) and Artiste of the Year (Overall) awards. Grand concerts were staged, among these were Adom Praiz, Harvest Praise, Ghana Stands in Worship, etc.
Generally, Ghanaian music improved in 2015 and we thank the good Lord for seeing us through. Producers with limited resources they’re exposed to and setbacks like power cuts were still able to output quality music. Everyone did well but not much. Our music industry is still paralyzed, our music content still needs to be fortified, and promotion, distribution and sales are nothing good to write home about. Infrastructural set-ups need to be increased. I can go on and on, but, I’m optimistic that 2016 will be a much better year, hence let’s put our minds to it, work and pray towards it.