It’s been a whirlwind of a year. A year that has seen some of the old hands reinforce their positions as hitmakers. It also saw some of the new breed of stars who emerged last year doing a lot to justify the hype that brought them to the fore.
Some hitmakers from the early 2000s are tried to bounce back and be relevant again: Bright (of Buk Bak), Captain Planet (4×4), Tic (formerly Tic Tac), Praye (reunited), Wutah (reunited) and a few others. The attempt at collaborating with the new breed of hitmakers has proven successful to a number of them. But they will be the first to admit that it will take a lot to peak again.
In no particular order, this is what I think are the Top 10 acts who have impressed me in 2018.
I feel Sarodie is already a legend despite the fact that I get the sense he feels he has not even hit his peak yet. He is one of a select few artists, if any, who have ensured that each year in the last 10 years, they have hit songs within the calendar year. What he has also started doing is to film various moments that have happened in his career along the way. He is creating content that will outlive him. On the musical level he remains one of the top stage performers on the continent, and also went on to drop a few hits in the year including the joint celebrating his wedding. We saw what he also did with Advice. Made a statement, went quietly away and he gained respect. All attempts at a clapback proved worthless. Hopefully, some of the new acts will learn from Sark.
Sark also featured ten relatively unheard of artists in Biibi Ba. That’s one of the key ways he supported the industry. Towards the end of the year when his colleague artists had shows, he ensured he featured in as many as he could, including shows for Manifest (yes, they went beyond the beef), Kofi Kinaata, Amakye Dede, Stonebwoy, King Promise, etc. He also continued with the huge franchise, Rapperholic for the 6th consecutive year. His presence at global music shows simply lifted up his image and that of the country. Sark is the King. Simples.
Has Kuami Eugene been the busiest artist in 2018? He probably was. He has released a lot of tunes, some dope, the rest just ok, and crowned it all with his album. But he’s been busy in the studio, at shows both locally and abroad, with a string of collaborations to boot. The little issues I have with him is his penchant to sample music without acknowledging same. Nothing wrong with sampling, but everything wrong with denying it.
Kuami needs to up his stage performance I think. I am not too sure churning out so many songs and collaborations within such a short span of time is too early for the artist. Yes, a lot of reasons may go into it but one too many may also lead to some fatigue for the brand and may not allow enough time to cool the music before release. Nonetheless, Kuami Eugene has broken through to assert himself as a top act now and is clearly a contender for Artist of the Year.
These two lads went about their business quietly in the year but we all saw the output in Boys Kasa, Supa, We dey vibe, Over and a few other hits. In Boys Kasa they managed to create a platform for some dope, somewhat underground acts to be seen and heard. There were a few of the lads I had never heard of until Boys Kasa. The songs have also caught on quite well despite the plethora of songs that hit the country this year. The two of them know their individual strengths and they use them well.
I will not be surprised if they are nominated for Artist of the Year, and join that elite group of very few multiple winners of the accolade.
Kidi is that kid who has not attained 25% of his potential but already has the town talking. He is immensely talented and made sure he had songs to shore up his beginnings from last year. Among the new breed of acts, he is the best stage performer though with a long way to go to reach those dizzying heights Samini has set. I saw him play live band at the 1025 Music and Laughs and he was simply sensational. Lyrically he seems diverse as well and has shown that he can work with different talents and deliver well. Listen to him on New African Girl with Fuse ODG and Kuami Eugene and Don’t Keep Me Waiting with Kwesi Arthur and that point will be very clear.
I sure hope Richie has some pretty good developmental plan for this young man and they work together to become the big acts he seems destined to be. I am also looking forward to a steady release of bangers like he has started.
King Promise is vocally brilliant and has some exciting songwriting ability. He says in Boys Kasa that he is the ‘young Daddy Lumba with a steeze’. That is a huge task to put on one’s self because DL is a huge legend. Ironically though, it appears King Promise has also taken after Lumba”s lousy stage performances.
Despite Lumba’s haul of albums and songs, we know he sucks on stage. Sadly, we saw King Promise flunk a huge stage performance during the AFRIMA Awards event. I get the sense that he may be getting complacent a little too early. Without doubt however, he is one of the brightest talents we have now and I hope he works hard to remain in the game a long time.
He has also done a lot of collaborations including that big song, CCTV with Mugeez and Sarkodie earlier last year. Later in the year he teamed up with WizKid to put out Tokyo. He had a number of smaller tours in Europe to reach out to largely Ghanaian fan bases. I maintain that he is one of the acts to put Ghana up there.
He had perhaps the most successful concert in 2018. The Bhim Concert has been lauded by fans, journalists and event organisers for living up to the billing. Others have said it saw Stonebwoy give the best performance of his career at the make-shift Fantasy Dome in Accra. Prior to that he had headlined Citi FM‘s Decemba2Rememba concert.
Stonebwoy learned a lot from his mentor, Samini, and has over time become a total joy to watch on stage as he performed with a live band at his concert in a way that subtly raised the beef he has with Shatta Wale. I have said before that Stonebwoy is one of the select group of artists that will blow up and take Ghana music thoroughly global. He has also remained relevant since he arrived on the scene and that simply has enhanced his image.
He raps. He sings. He does both with some ease and a unique sense of style. Kwesi Arthur wants to create a niche for himself and you can tell he is working hard at it. He has worked with R2Bees this year on Boys Kasa, Manifest in Feels, and so on. In all these songs, he brought on a style that made him stand out while at the same time making the song gel in its own special way. He is clearly one took at going forward.
Some folks may be disappointed that he is doing a lot of singing lately than rapping but I think that’s the dexterity to his craft and it is a beauty listening to the young man.
He has had a good year – just like many of the last 5. He had good hype for his album launch and as always created a stir with his antics, both on beats and elsewhere. Shatta is no doubt one of the biggest artists in Ghana if not the biggest. He has over the year courted needless controversy (as always) and made some of his colleagues not to be happy with him leading to a few diss songs. His shenanigans on social media, including that reckless behaviour of exposing either his manhood or that of one of his ‘hommies’ during a sexual act on his Snapchat. He had a back and forth with fellow dancehall artist Stonebwoy, with Shatta accusing his colleague of things that got him riled up. Then there was that very popular Advice Sarkodie served him.
Shatta also featured briefly on the Billboard chart with his Reign album and that was a big deal – and rightly so. I am unable to tell how well the album is doing but he sure had been busy with concerts both home and abroad and has kept us entertained, whilst making money for himself. As a friend once said, Shatta is his own man and has been riding on a massive following for a while now. But just maybe, it seems that invincibility is gradually wearing off. This is Shatta we are talking about so he may just do something unexpected to continue remaining relevant.
On the local scene it appears the most visible female artist we had in 2018 was Wendy Shay. Molded into the Bullet/Ruff Town Records fraternity, she has had a number of songs released in the year, and as expected, they are all sexually suggestive. I have said previously that I feel Wendy Shay is struggling to fit into the shoes tragically left behind by Ebony almost a year ago. Most people continue to see her as someone struggling to be like the late star. I am not sure it’s working yet.
She had a pretty good year. I didn’t see her concert and didn’t read much about it. She also had a situation where a simple ‘Who is Wendy Shay’ got her upset because she thinks we should all know who she is. She was also on stage at D2R and it appears she did what she could but her stagecraft needs to be worked on as the audience didn’t seem to be too excited with her. She loves what she is doing. A little encouragement and perhaps a shake-up in her creative output may be of help
Ignore his love shenanigans. Ignore his source of wealth (just for now). Maybe ignore his shoulder bag as well. Medikal is a good rapper and has come out as a good artist. I had tipped him for a number of awards two years ago but that didn’t happen but he has continued to do well in his chosen genre. He has also been on a number of hits in the year under review.
Medikal is a young man. It appears he didn’t expect to become famous this quick and he is living the dream. His sensational break up and subsequent hitching of another industry person seems to have excited him a great deal. Those things are his business by the way. We simply will focus on his music and wish him well.
Notable Artists: Wiyaala, Manifest, La Meme Gang, DarkoVibes, etc
She’s sadly better known for her craft and music outside of Ghana than here. We saw her at her best during the AFRIMA. When a number of acts flunked their 10 minutes on continental TV, we were witnesses to what Wiyaala did. Her brand of music is also one that international audiences perhaps appreciate more and associate with us as well.
He’s been on his grind working with new acts and churning out those bars that he is so well noted for. Perhaps a few, bigger hits from him will see him comfortably perched among the top 10 for the new year. He had a good show end of the year. Didn’t hear much about his tours this year though.
La Meme Gang, DarkoVibes and the New Lads:
I call them new largely because they are just breaking through with some commercial recognition. Knowing how this industry works, these guys may have been working real hard over the years but are now getting the chance to break up through. R2Bees and Sarkodie and Stonebwoy should be commended for getting them on songs that has brought them to the fore.
Ghana Music is growing. The next level conversation deserves a whole new piece and we will see how that will pan out this year. Issues of promotions, roles of DJs, roles of radio and TV stations and media in general, appropriateness of ‘beats’ for both the Ghanaian and international markets are some of the key points that may be mentioned.
We have made good strides and it’s important to celebrate the little successes.
By: Kwame Gyan