As for VGMA nominations deɛ, we will always have a thousand opinions about them once they are released  — the board naa, they know already, so they have hyɛ’d their sapɔ mu nsuo.

To be completely honest, many of the concerns are infantile and come from a position of ignorance (Gasmillla’s Telemɔ does not qualify because it was released outside the year under review, that won’t change no matter how many times you ask… and we all knew they would show Shatta Wale krakye powers. Stop that!).

But the point about Obrafour’s exclusion from the Best Rapper of the Year category is, in my opinion, is the real debate in this year’s awards. Hoooow…just how!

Gospel Album of the Year has been scrapped/ shelved (at least for this year), Ohemaa Mercy has been cheated, EL’s Koko is Gospel, Cris Waddle should have been nominated for something, Teephlow and his camp were dishonest…blah blah blah. Bɔssu, those ones are normal…those ones we can tolerate somehow. But the Obrafour question? Chaley Chaley Chaley!

Of course Obrafour is not one to go on social media and throw tantrums like a disgruntled five year old, he’s higher than that –way higher (I haven’t mentioned anyone’s name oh, yoo!) –but nokwere deɛ, ɛyɛ. I do not intend to undermine the worth of the nominees in the Best Rapper of the Year category for instance…uuh, actually, I do! Truth to God, which of the nominees therein does a better job when it comes to lyrical depth, dexterity and all the other elevated grammar the definition of the category stipulates? Joe, as for this one, it’s someway paa oo!

Obrafour naa, in the final analysis, he may be the one doing himself, because he’s an anomaly. He’s tooooo modest for a rapper (he doesn’t even rap about big cars and girls… cough cough), he’s too bent on sticking to the art for the love of it and nothing else. It’s why he’s a legend to us –he doesn’t compromise on the quality of his craft, and I’m certain that awards are never a motivation to him. Unfortunately, at the same time, it’s why we might have taken him for granted  (still do) on some of these things. As is characteristic of all those truly called to the art, I fear the only time we’ll honour him with adequate wood and plastic is when he’s long gone.

Sometimes, I wish he was a bit more outspoken than he is, because if he has the temper of some other artist who just came to your mind, would we take him for granted with certain things? Not at all.

Secondly, if he believed a bit in propaganda, that too would have ensured notice (which he more than deserves) in some of these things. Indeed, the reason some one or two people are in the Best Rapper of the Year category  is due, more to propaganda, than to merit. I’ve said it. Oh I won’t mention names, but you too, you know. What all this means, in plain terms, is that all the songs in there ( including Ayɛ Late), are better crafted and possess higher inner heights lyrically than Nkontompo for instance…Aboaa Onni Dua too. And that one too, it’s too difficult to accept. Actually, it’s too difficult to even fathom, for starters.

I mean, EL can rap, Flowking is insane, Omar Sterling has had to fight for his life (he’s coming out pretty strong), Sarkodie has words for days, and Pappy…well, I do like his dreads in addition. And Obrafour, the ultimate Ghanaian rapper, is missing.

No matter how you attempt to do it, it’s simply indefensible. Okay let’s try to rationalise:

Obrafour’s acclaim as our ideal rapper is based on past glory, he’s washed up but wont accept the philosophy of times and seasons . That is so laughable, I’m uncomfortable just writing it down. Nkontompo is the ultimate rap lesson, and embodies poetry in a way that makes wanna –be’s want to commit suicide, and Aboa Onni Dua would be used as reference if rap was taught in universities here. Do you disagree? I didn’t think so.

Another one: he outdid himself with the classic ‘Pae Mu Ka’, and so we will always judge him through that lens? You know what, you just might be right on that score. None of Obrafour’s other projects quite match up to that album. But take any other rap performance he’s done in the year under review for example, and compare it to any other rap performance in the Best Rapper category. Good, now tell me something.

Maybe he’s just better than anyone else in that category, so ( like the explanation being flung to us about SP Kofi Sarpong and the Gospel Album of the Year category), it would be unfair competition.  Like I said, I don’t intend to disrespect the other nominees, they’ve done awesome…I’m just processing out my confusion.

As for the theories deɛ, plenty… we cannot exhaust them all. There’s a final one I would like to test though…that absurd as it may sound, this is another case of oversight, like is the case with Teephlow. Eish! Hmmm! Errrrrm…hmmm! You see, every award scheme(this one included) is based on a credibility and an expected and perceived infallibility, never mind that it is a human institution and mistakes are inevitable. But still…

We are all football coaches. In that same way, we are all music critics. Some of the commentary (especially on social media) is priceless comic relief. Like you’d understand, we can’t wait to point out flaws in the system. This year, we have a strong one: that the system is problematic  and the board exposes ‘gross incompetence’, like Chris Vincent opines in a long write-up filled with so much uncomfortable truth…because it didn’t identify that Teephlow’s ‘The Warning’, which had been nominated for Hip Hop Song of the Year was erroneous, till the very last minute.

Frankly, the PR work by the board to justify some of its decisions has been uncomfortably inconsistent: George Quaye says one thing on Starr, Francis Doku says something else on Joy. And we can’t necessarily differentiate between their personal opinions and the official position of the board, and it’s all so confusing to me…and the Shatta Wale kakai-ism in  this whole mix is, well, adding to the someway-ness.

As for the Shatta fans in my hometown who are touching Vodafone stuff, it only makes me adjust my buttocks to one side on my seat when the election debate comes on. If ‘idle’ youth are willing to light the match because they feel Charles Nii Armah Mensah, a musician, has been dealt with unfairly, then mustn’t we be even a bit worried about November 7? Anyway…

Obrafour was also missing in another key category: Hip-life/ Hip-hop Artist of the Year. That one too confuses me abundantly for the reasons I have listed above, but unlike the Teephlow incident, it’s too late for anything else to be done about it but regret. Else it will open floodgates and the whole place will be inundated with funny claims. To be fair, the nominations have been largely a true reflection, except this one. In the end though, it’s all good.

While I disagree on the VGMA board on a variety of issues, this one being most prominent, I must commend the organisers for doing it for this long, and in many ways, improving every year. It is no joke –we’ve heard the stories. I personally found the manner in which the nominations were announced this time very exciting and such a refreshing innovation. I hope for the show itself  to be significantly shorter than the eight hours or so it often takes, whether the industry awards is merged with the main event or not. I hope for success with the host, performances, and indeed, the whole show. I hope parties involved find a way around the Shatta Wale conundrum.

I hope for artists to be more respectful to the scheme and organisers, especially with how they register their displeasure at certain decisions. Also, I hope they are more honest in filing nominations, and for the research team to improve in their ways too. I hope for some crazy investor to invest in a new, bigger auditorium which would allow for artists to fly from the sky and so on. FInally, I hope for way fewer controversies next year.

This is striking about Obrafour, for though it is obvious these awards have been both inaccurate about him and unfair to him for far too long, he had the following words on Facebook when the nomination list came out Friday:

“We got 4 nominations at the # VGMAs . Thanks for all the support”.

Maturity. Greatness.

It will happen, we will be better with these things…small time! Now turn the ‘Chop Kiss’ up.

@myershansen on twitter


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