The human race has been heavily influenced by music for centuries. Therefore, it’s safe to say that music has a massive impact on our lives – it’s literally with us almost always. Many people have different reasons why they listen to music; some say it causes intense emotion and overwhelming joy within them, others also describe it as a source of comfort zone where they can be in their own little chambers alone to meditate about their lives without any interference. Most people also attach spirituality to music, as a form of communication between them and their objects of worship. Generally, we can all agree that the power of music has never and will never be underestimated.
The first recovered piece of recorded music was found in 800 BCE. It was written in cuneiform (denoting or relating to wedge-shaped characters) and was a religious hymn. It should be noted that cuneiform is not a type of musical notation. By 700 BCE there are records of songs that include vocals with instrumentals.
Music now has a different dimension and angle compared to how it was several centuries ago. The world has been blessed with several music genres such as Rock, Jazz, Country music, Blues, Reggae, Gospel music, Electronic music, Hip Pop, Highlife, Latino Music and more. In the 1990s through to the early 2000s, Popular music, best known as ‘Pop Music’ was and still is (well not as popular as it used to be) one of the most relevant music genres, if not the most relevant, in the world. Creeping its way into the global space is ‘Afrobeat,’ a music genre originated by West Africans.
Pop music is inherently popular because it creates a sense of familiarity for listeners. Therefore, when they hear the same ‘woop’ throughout the genre, they’re more inclined to ease into a piece of music they’ve never heard because it sounds familiar. When talking about Pop Music, it’s only right that we give credit to the god of Pop who also doubles as the greatest musical icon to ever walk the surface of this planet – Michael Jackson. In regards to Afrobeat, it is a music genre which involves the combination of elements of West African musical styles such as Fuji music, Yoruba, and Highlife with American Funk and Jazz influences, with a focus on chanted vocals, complex intersecting rhythms, and percussion. Its cultural origins are Ghana (dating back to 1920 and Nigeria (dating back to 1970).
People all over the world are gradually coming to accepting the fact that Afrobeat is a go-to genre when there is an event or a programme which brings people together. Afrobeat sort of elevates one’s soul due to its rhythmic sound and danceable tune. The tune of an Afrobeat song can make you dance without understanding the content of the songs and the lyrics. Afrobeat artists like Wizkid, Davido, Burna Boy, Rema and others from Nigeria have raked in quite a remarkable audience for their music, making people outside the African continent develop immense love for the genre and the continent as a whole. The likes of Mugeez, EL, Kuami Eugene, KiDi, King Promise and others, from Ghana have contributed massively to place the country on the map in regards to Ghanaian Afrobeat traveling beyond the borders of the country. Also, when talking about Afrobeat, we can’t leave out the legendary Fela Kuti, who used made danceable tunes with lyrical contents which spoke against oppression and corruptness of African leaders and Europeans.
Afrobeat is gradually taking over the global musical space like Pop music did several decades ago. People outside Africa have come to understand the uniqueness of Afrobeat and have therefore learn to love and appreciate it.
Ghana as a country can boast of very talented Afrobeat artist who make soothing music and do well to attract the attention of a wider audience through their music. We will look at five popular and five not-so-popular Ghanaian Afrobeat artistes the country is certainly proud of due to their immense contribution to the music industry.
POPULAR GHANAIAN ARTISTES WITH INTERNATIONAL HITS
Rashid Adbul Mugeez, considered as the godfather of hooks in the Ghanaian music industry has managed to remain very significant for over a decade. Having debuted the music industry in 2007, he has blessed his fans and music lovers with his soothing melodic voice without being even slightly problematic. Mugeez, as he is popularly called, is one of two popular Ghanaian music duo, R2BEES. Even though during the beginning of his career Afrobeat was not that popular, he has managed to blend in and position himself at a very important place in the heart of Afrobeat. He is known to have a long-time association with the most awarded African Rapper, Sarkodie, Ghana’s very own, the 2x BET Awards winner. He is also known to have been part of Ed Sheeran’s Divide album. Mugeez’s role as an Afrobeat artist is arguably one of the best in the country. With songs like Over, Plantain Chips, ‘Boa me’ a song by Ed Sheeran which got featured on, ‘My Baby’ by Stay Jay, ‘Mente Mpo’ by Kwaw Kese and more.
‘EL Baby’ as he is affectionately called, is currently one of the most underrated musical icons in Ghana. Real name Elorm Adablah, EL versatility in the music industry covers Afrobeat, Rap, Hip Pop and Singing. Many people are of the view that EL made Afrobeat popular in Ghana and very small number of people can deny that fact. EL’s discography is filled with Afrobeat songs, back-to-back hits that have raked in very large amount of streams on musical platforms. Some of his songs include, Kaalu, Auntie Martha, One Ghana, Shelele, Kaa Bu Ame, Obuu Mo, and more. EL has been credited for making Rapper, Sarkodie, go commercial when he got featured on the song ‘U go Kill Me.’ In the 2016 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (the most recognized music awards scheme), EL bagged five awards, including the Overall Best Artiste of the Year. Unfortunately, his famed started fading out when he detached himself from his longtime record label BBnZ. EL has been present in the music industry since 2008.
Considered as the leader of the new school, Kuami Eugene is one of the important musical personalities Ghana can boast of having at the moment. Born Eugene Kwame Marfo, the Lynx Entertainment signee is also one of the most hated artistes, if not the most hated, in the entertainment industry. The 23-year old has managed to win the hearts of so many Ghanaians with his unique talent. He is actually recognized for making hit songs effortlessly. During the just ended Ghana Music Awards, he took home the Overall Artiste of the Year. Kuami Eugene is popular for making Afrobeat and Highlife music. He came into the music scene after taking part in an annual musical contest show dubbed ‘MTN Hitmaker’ in 2016. The self-acclaimed ‘Rockstar’ has over the years faced a lot of backlash from the people for reasons like having a very poor fashion sense and being too much of a talker. However, his music is not even closed to been heavily criticized. His ability to make Afrobeat songs so easily has been appreciated by fans all over the country and outside the borders of it. When it comes to YouTube views, he music videos rake in the most views by a Ghanaian Afrobeat artist. Some of his songs include Ebeyeyie, Rockstar, Confusion, Open Gate, Obiaa to, and many more.
With ‘The Gyal Dem Sugar’ as his slogan, this Ghanaian star is surely one of Ghana’s favorite artistes. Dennis Nana Dwamena, stage name, KiDi, is a Ghanaian Afrobeat artiste with a remarkable discography to boast of. KiDi, who is on the same record label as Kumai Eugene has managed to stay relevant in the industry without being outshined. KiDi is considered as an artiste who makes music for girls. He nicknamed himself ‘Sugar Daddy’; he is someone who has keen interest in pleasing women. He has managed to produce very quality Afrobeat songs which has been very well appreciated by so many people. Songs like Say Cheese, Enjoyment, Thunder, Cinderella, and more, have been jumped on by many people.
The ‘Young Daddy Lumba’ is distinctively one of Ghana’s favorite Afrobeat artistes. Many people consider him as being closely behind Mugeez as the god of hooks. King Promise’s role in the Ghanaian music industry is nothing short of phenomenal. Gregory Bortey Newman, as his birthname, King Promise is known to have a very healthy friendly relation with Nigeria’s Mr Eazi as a result of Afrobeat music. The two have blessed the music industry with amazing songs and great performances. King Promise is the only signed artiste on Producer KillBeatz record label, ‘Legacy Life Entertainment.’ With his incredible talent, many people are not pleased with the fact that his cabinet of awards is nothing to write home about. King Promise is best known for songs like ‘Tokyo’ which features Wizkid, Commando, Abena, CCTV, Selfish, Sisa, ‘Baby I’m Jealous’ by Mr Eazi, and more.
POPULAR GHANAIAN ARTISTES MAKING WAVES IN AFROBEATS
Probably one of the few artistes who is solely into Afrobeat music, Kelvyn Brown, best known as Kelvyn Boy is best known for having one of the most unique voices in the Ghanaian music industry. The former Burniton record label signee is known for his immerse contribution in the new school Afrobeat era. Kelvyn Boy’s relevance started just a few years ago when he associated himself with Ghanaian Dancehall Artiste, Stonebwoy, but after their feud, he detached himself and went solo. Many people regard him as being cocky and disrespectful but no one has never denied the fact that he is extremely good when it comes to making good music. In 2019, he released his debut solo extended playlist (EP) which was very well appreciated by music lovers and music critics. His best known for songs like Afrobeat, Momo, Mea, Loko, Yawa No dey, and more.
The Identical Twin brothers is surely leaving a mark on the walls of Ghanaian music industry. Michael and Tony Boafo, best known as Dope Nation is a Ghanaian music duo who have managed to stay relevant in the music industry since 2016. They are currently the only music duo in Ghana who takes Afrobeat as their specificity in music. The two were initially confused by others as being EL because of how similar they all sound. In view of that, they have explained in several interviews that, growing up as musicians, they were heavily inspired by EL. Dope Nation in the just ended Vodafone Ghana Music Awards bagged both Afrobeat Song of the Year and Best Group of the Year.
It was once rumored that, they got sacked out of their former record label, Lynx Entertainment (same record label that manages Kumai Eugene and KiDi) because Kuami Eugene has issues with them. They are best known for songs such as Zanku, Naami, Eish, Confam, Thank God, and more.
As a former contestant of MTN Hitmaker, Mr Drew, is gradually winning the hearts of many Ghanaians through his style of entering the Afrobeat music genre. Mr Drew, even though is not very known by so many people, he has managed to make his music known across the country. However, he had a few setbacks a few months ago when he was called out for ‘stealing’ a song by American Actor-Singer, Rotimi. In spite of that, he fought so hard to battle critics and produced good Afrobeat songs to entertain his fans. With his dual talent as a singer and a dancer, one is certainly going to get attached to his style of music without hesitation. He is known for songs like Later, Eat, Let me know, Dw3, and more.
Calls herself ‘Queen of Ghana Music,’ Wendy Addo, best known as Wendy Shay is definitely not allowing only the guys to take over the music industry. As a signee of RuffTown Entertainment, she has been the center of loads of rumors including sexual rumors and all that. However, her constant effort in making music is something no one can deny her of. Many people are of the view that her lyrics are actually very light and nothing to be impressed about. She came into the music scene after the death of Ebony Reigns, another artist who was heavily criticized because of her dressing and was also signed to the same label as Wendy. In the light of everything, Wendy Shay has managed to stay relevant as probably one of the most-talked-about (most hated somehow) artistes in Ghana. Some of her songs include; Bedroom Commando, Uber Driver, Haters In Tears, Ghana Boys, Astalavista, Tuff Skin Girl, etc.
Obviously one of the most unrecognized Afrobeat Artistes in Ghana whose achievements in a very few months surpasses man’s imagination. Edmund Addo, best known as Reefer Tym is a 23-year old Ghanaian Afrobeat and Pop Artist whose musical career has been unknown to many people, yet so loud to the streaming platforms. The artist has set a record with his debut EP ‘No Games.’ The EP has debuted Number 1 on Apple Music for 116 days and still counting, making it the longest running musical compilation ever by a Ghanaian artiste on Apple Music. Reefer Tym has become the youngest ever Ghanaian to do that and the second artiste to do that right after Sarkodie. The EP has a total stream of 3 million plus on the musical platform. The songs on the EP are; Carry Go, Back it Up, Wiskolowiska, Booty Gang, Give Them and Naked.
Afrobeat as a music genre can equally be attributed to Ghana as one of its largest contributors as it is to Nigeria. The dedication to it has made a lot of people outside the walls of Africa appreciate it and assigned Africans as the unique and only creators of the genre.