September 2016 without a doubt, will be cemented in posterity as one of the most fruitful periods album-wise. I’m unsure of any other time in history which has witnessed the release of this many albums.
It is even more remarkable in a singles generation. But our artists are relentless. Despite the certain uninspiring commercial behavior of the album, Ghanaian acts still firmly hold to the creative investment of bodies of work, and its worth to posterity.
From M.anifest to EL, Black Prophet to Rudebwoy Ranking, this month has dripped with some of the choicest offerings in rhythm and verse from some of our most trusted.
We bring you a list:
Artist: FlowKing Stone
Label & Release Date: RapFam/ Sept. 2, 2016
Originally a member of rap duo Bradez, FlowKing Stone (born Kwaku Nsiah-Boamah) ventured a solo project shortly after brother and partner Kunta Kinte was struck with illness. It was more to hold the fort than anything else, till Kunta got back on his feet.
It is perhaps this reason –a selfless desire for unconditional sacrifice, that has shot him into the company of highest ranking contemporary rhymers in Ghana; earning collaborations (and comparison with) say, Sarkodie.
For several others, going solo implies a downward spiral into oblivion. It is the opposite with him. He has thrived both by himself, and as member of a group.
Gifted, his debut record as solo act, consists of 27 solid tracks showcasing superior technique, audacity, and versatility. The record also sees appearances from Nero X, Reggie Rockstone, Efya, Sarkodie, M.anifest, Cabum, Kunta Kinte, Luther, and Yaa Pono.
The singles –a number of them –via which the album was promoted, have been embraced warmly by both street and radio: Fire Burn Dem, Soldier, Number 1, Go Low…
Album: Nowhere Cool
Label & Release Date: Singitdamnit/ Sept. 8, 2016
Describing it as his most “industrious” effort yet, rapper M.anifest’s Nowhere Cool, his fourth studio album, was released to instant acclaim, and has been widely tipped as Album of the Year, 2016. It is also the project through which he stakes his most vehement claim to rap elitism in Ghana so far.
Through 14 songs, a precocious Kwame Ametepee Tsikata (as he’s known privately), discusses everything from love, politics, sex, ambition and setback, neglect, etc.
On an album crafted with careful hands, powerful wisdom, wit, and sparkling language, by an artist known for composing songs of established value, Time No Dey (ft. Worlasi) is extra-special.
Read More: OF MODEL ALBUMS: Nowhere Cool (A Review)
Other songs on Nowhere Cool are Invisible, Bear, Sugar (ft. Brymo), and Cupid’s Crooked Bow.
Album: BAR III
Label & Release Date: BBNZ Live/ Sept. 9, 2016
Usually a mixtape, the third installment of BBNZ Live frontman EL (Elom Adabla)’s BAR III blooms into a fully-fledged album. We might still refer to it as a mixtape, but it definitely wont be deliberate. Like BARs I & II, BAR III: The Lomi Era, is homage to hip-hop solely. Soliciting contribution from both regular and new collaborators, locally and across the continent: Kojo Cue, Shaker, MI ( Nigeria) Khuli Chana (South Africa), Ayat, Adomaa, Worlasi, Gemini etc, EL returns to his very musical roots: Deep thought. Masterful wordplay. Raw emotion.
Already, Portey Dey Be, Body Bags, Lalafama, It’s Your Life, Superstar (I repeat, Superstar) are chalking rapid prominence.
EL is reigning VGMA Artist of the Year, and president of his BBNZ label, which also houses Kojo Cue, and Lil Shaker. He’s also one of many top African music acts participating on season 4 of the prestigious Coke Studio Africa presently ongoing in Nairobi- Kenya.
Label & Release Date: Gideon Force/ Sept. 12, 2016
Gaskiya is Hausa for ‘truth’, and consists 12 songs and 6 bonus tracks. With it ( his fifth album), Iwan hopes to replicate the victories of his debut My Time (2010) –that explosive dancehall project which brought forth hits as Who’s Bad, Thanks and Praise, Jah Bless Me, and Tell Them Again (ft. Black Prophet).
That album earned him such awards as Reggae Video of the year award (Vodafone 4syte Video Awards 2010), and Reggae Song of the year (Vodafone Ghana Music Awards 2011).
Also called the Lyrical Gunshot, Iwan promised in the build up to Gaskiya‘s release, something of utmost value; “I promise my fans a classic album”, he stated. Subsequent projects since My Time ; 12 September (2011), Jah (2014), and Am A Gideon Mixtape (2015) have failed to be as successful, but Iwan, who was once our foremost dancehall soldiers, believes firmly in Gaskiya’s quality. Perhaps we should too.
Gaskiya features guest appearances from Eye Judah, Fancy Gadam, Awal among others.
Artist: Rudebwoy Ranking
Album: Elevation Time
Label & Release Date: Bullhaus/ Sept 12, 2016
Having sufficiently served the underground, fearsome dancehall warrior Rudebwoy Ranking, officially announced himself into mainstream challenge with his debut, Elevation Time.
Drone images from the release concert, held on the streets of his native Nima show thousands of RM loyalists cheering him into his “elevation”. It is common knowledge that the Nima crowd is the most important demographic in the dancehall conversation here. Nima has nurtured Ranking into a fearless commentator and custodian of the stories from the ghetto. And the way Nima has honed him, he’s the best at (but not limited to) dancehall which makes him even more dangerous to go up against.
Signed to Bullhaus Entertainment, which also largely orchestrated colleague Shatta Wales’s soaring, Ranking looks next in line for dominance in the the genre and beyond.
Artist: Black Prophet
Album: Stories of Life
Label & Release Date: Prophetic Music Production/ Sept 16, 2016
An undisputed legend, singer Kenneth Wilberforce Zonto Bossman/ Black Prophet returns with his fifth. Since entering the terrain in 1998, he has become both one of our most reliable acts and most exemplary ambassadors.
His acclaim has come from wide, and his authenticity reinforced with every album, working with reggae elders Rita Marley, Pliers, Don Carlos, Yellowman, Steel Pulse, Lucky Dube, Alpha Blondy, Buju Banton, Dean Fraser, and Capleton.
It is therefore no wonder that with this album; recorded entirely in Jamaica (home of the genre he’s disciple of), with contribution from giants Tarrus Riley and Duane Stephenson, Prophet eyes the prestigious Grammy Awards; “I will put African Roots Rock Reggae on the musical map and bring a Grammy back to Ghana“, he put forth via Facebook upon the record’s release.
Highlights of the 12-track masterpiece include Too Know, Elmina Castle, Distant Love, African Freedom, and I Wish.
Artist: Shatta Rako
Label & Release Date: Talent Over Hype, RudeBouy Records/ Sept. 17, 2016
The first copy of Shata Rako (born Rexford Kojo Amoah)’s Preface sold for a whoping GHC 20,000 at he launch in Kumasi. That’s incredible endorsement, even if money isn’t the ultimate endorsement of art.
Shatta Rako has been around since 2005, and cannot be overlooked in the development of dancehall/ reggae in Ghana. His consistency and versatility have been something to marvel at, both by his contemporaries and the new school alike.
His 2013 Kassic Remixes is widely revered because of the sheer genius with which he retouched some of Ghana’s most cherished highlife tunes. Those 16 songs definitely shot his legitimacy in the music industry even further.
This new album, his fourth, and which is bound to create new records, compiles impressive songs as Clear Di Dance (ft. Root Eye) , Roll Call, Mama, Good 4 Evil, and State of Emergency.
Artist: Omar Sterling
Album: Victory Through Harmony (mixtape)
Label & Release Date: R2Bees, Starboy Worldwide/ Sept. 30, 2016
Omar Sterling’s September 30 mixtape seeks, above all, to prove his mettle lyrically. Being one half on Afropop group R2Bees means that he’s “ensnared”, as their main target is one that simply wants to dance. Hence, he has had to keep his verses short and safe, or risk boring the listener.
On Victory Through Harmony however, he makes his intentions clear; he wants to rap, he wants to flow.
Unlike the commercial setting being in the group presents, a mixtape is the perfect platform to let it all out without the entrapments of sales targets, etc.
This mixtape finally pushes him into conversations circling Ghanaian rap masters. This is not unfounded, Nineteen- Ninety, Damba Flow, Swag, Bob Marley, Talk Talk, and Bob Marley add weight to this assertion.
Artist: D Black
Label & Release Date: Black Avenue Muzik/ Sept. 30, 2016
Just 29, D Black is widely regarded a Ghanaian hip-hop mogul , combining music with corporate duties as running Black Avenue Works (consisting Black Avenue Muzik, Black Avenue Clothing, Livewire Events and Black Avenue TV (producers of THE EFGH Show), as well as Club Onyx.
Lightwork consists 15 songs and 2 bonus tracks. It features appearances from both Ghanaian and international stars. A latest single Omega (ft. Sarkodie, Singlet), since its release on the UK weeks ago, has become a radio favourite.
Not entirely surprising of Desmond Blaclmore, Lightwork is an assembly point for a constellation of the continental stars: VVIP, Phyno, Sarkodie, MI Abaga, Seyi Shay, Cassper Nyovest, Davido, Praiz, and more.