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It was an unremarkable Friday evening in June. I sat across from my road manager – the same guy who told me beer tastes better when someone else is buying – at a local bar. It’s a bar with no signage that we affectionately call “the garden”.

To call it a bar is generous. The garden is, at best, a spot: an unassuming gritty place with plastic chairs, almond trees, an inexpensive sound system, a kiosk, and most importantly for the clientele, cheap booze. On any given evening you will find a random mix of disenchanted elderly men with a distaste for sobriety, and young men with a penchant for staying low-key.

Half the people are too intoxicated to care I’m there and the other half give me friendly dap, shout a line from one of my songs and keep it moving.

The sound of young Ghana, Afrobeats, dominates the playlist at the garden, alongside tunes from our regional cousins in Nigeria. It wasn’t always so. On this unremarkable Friday I’m reminded of this remarkable feat: we have achieved a prolific music scene without a formidable production infrastructure, or the presence of big record labels which can dole out a recording budget to young artists. Underneath the predominantly Auto-Tuned vocals are young voices that want to be heard.

I understand too well the burning desire to have your voice heard even without the backing of a traditional label. About 2005 I had just graduated, with a now dusty economics degree and a tonne of musical aspiration but little knowhow. I took matters into my own hands. Piece by piece I accumulated second-hand recording equipment off Craigslist. My apartment became my studio and in 2007 I released my first album, Manifestations, to much acclaim in Minnesota. Sometimes creativity is simply making a lot out of a little. I smile so broadly when I see my younger compatriots in Ghana adopt the same do-it-yourself approach.

Truth be told, from quaint Saltpond to big city Accra, creative spaces are neither fancy nor spiffy in these parts. Dancefloors are ruled by tunes toasting the glamours of life, tunes that are made in small, bedroom-sized studios, often with broken-down air conditioners rather than platinum discs decorating the walls. Optimists will muse at the irony, cynics will scoff and call it a cruel joke. Both factions would have to acknowledge that a lot of music is being made, regardless.

Our parents’ generation often humblebrag to us about how it was in their day. The plethora of highlife bands, legendary club nights at the Ambassador hotel (now the plush Mövenpick hotel), or how AB Crentsil and the Sweet Talksrecorded their 1978 record Party Time in Hollywood in Los Angeles. And of course they had Osibisa, who were regulars in the charts, and easily the biggest Ghanaian band of all time. Yes, times have changed. They can question our competence but they can’t begrudge us our will and zeal to create in a climate where music is regularly consumed but there is little support for it financially.

I moved back home three and a half years ago after a 10-year sojourn in America. I have not only felt the restlessness of youth here, simmering and festering, I’ve lived it. Frequent power cuts alone (unaffectionately called dumsor) have made music more expensive and frustrating to create. Yet there is an increasing cadre of young hopefuls who invest their lives in creative ventures.

Take, for instance, the Chale Wote street art festival: a colourful yearly arts extravaganza in the heart of Jamestown, a historical neighbourhood along the Accra coastline more famous for its boxers. Chale Wote is an edgy, inclusive and bold initiative that invites artists out of the periphery and encourages young people to unapologetically indulge in homegrown art. Conceived by a pair of visionaries, Mantse Aryeequaye and Sionne Neely, Chale Wote has emerged despite the absence of a big budget.

Art is not a luxury, it’s our identity. It’s our message in a time capsule. It’s our inspiration to break from the humdrum, to know that we can shatter the ceilings of possibility and the frustrations of our daily routines. We’re in desperate need of inspiration to develop our homeland. We want more. No – we need more. We can no longer just cling on to the glories of the Osibisas, El Anatsuis, Ablade Glovers and other greats. We must contribute to shaping the look, feel and spiritual essence of our homeland.

Granted, we have some things to sort out. We’re a generation seemingly more obsessed with commerce than with art. After all “e be art we go chop?” (loosely translated, this pidgin English means, “is it art that will feed us?”). I know many young entrepreneurial visual artists, musicians, fashion designers and filmmakers who make work on shoestring budgets that is magical and can transcend borders.

As I was about to leave the garden my song Forget Dem came on. A group of young guys sang along as loud as they could, eager to let me know they recognised me. I smiled, appreciative.

I contemplate giving them a peek behind the curtain. If only they knew that the song they hear on the radio, which accompanies the music video they see on TV, was recorded in a tiny ghetto studio in Tema. How dumsor rudely interrupted our session, how super producer Killbeatz rented a generator in defiance of the power gods. But I don’t. After all, when it comes to being an artist in Ghana, “nowhere cool” – our way of saying the grass isn’t greener on the other side. Still, we power on, fuelled by passion. Oh the joys of being young, restless and creative in Africa. No stopping us now.

Guardian/Manifest

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Music

#ENEWSGHPlaylist: Total cheats, Born ONE virgins and a ‘One Corner’ madness – Top songs of 2017

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2017 belongs to Swedru native and One Corner man Patapaa Amisty as much as it belongs to Stonebwoy, or Ebony, or  Bronya duo Wutah. Richie Mensah’s Lynx Entertainment may have enjoyed their biggest year in a while, and Shatta Wale maintains his grip atop the pile in many respects.

Here’s our list of top songs for the year.

  1. One Corner – Patapaa (ft. Loyalty and Ras Cann)

One morning in September, the country woke up to a viral video of Swedru-based Patapaa Amisty (known privately as Justice Amoah) performing One Corner at this year’s Akwambo Festival. The profound insanity exhibited in the footage startled and charmed the nation all at once. Beneath the stage, in the presence of the elderly, on the streets, in gutters, and practically everywhere else, bewitched fans partook of the craze mainly by thrusting their groins at whatever was in front of them (animate or not)  as you would during coitus.

And with that, One Corner became a phenomenon, sweeping across West Africa and beyond at the rate of wildfires during harmattan. Celebrities and regular folk alike were not left out of the frenzy, and posted online their versions to both admiration and aversion.  Wherever you stand on the relevance of the song, it is a momentous point for culture. It is the biggest song this year has offered, prominent among internet trends for 2017, and announced Patapaa in grand style. Patapaa may never release another song of this magnitude, but no one can take way his place this year.

  1. Taking Over – Shatta Wale (ft. Captan, Addi Self & Joint 77)

“We dey drop hit song each and every year”, sings dancehall star Shatta Wale in Don’t Try (2016). That statement is hardly an exaggeration. This year too, Shatta Wale has reigned supreme, publishing over 100 songs and headlining the biggest shows.

Produced by Willis Beats Taking Over features SM militants Captan, Addi Self, and Joint 77, and ranks highest among submissions from his camp, and the biggest songs of 2017. Accompanying visuals to the song, published on YouTube back in March, have been viewed over 5.5 million times.

 

  1. Forgetti – Shatta Wale ft. SM Millitants, Pope Skinny, & Natty Lee

Typically, the controversial act’s 2017 success story is also proven with more than a single hit. Forgetti, also featuring his militants Captan, Addi Self, and Joint 77,  as well as SM associates Pope Skinny and Natty Lee, is another song with which the singer has held his place as “dancehall landlord”.

Low Tempo, Freedom, Ayoo, Umbrella,Dem Confuse, Bumper, Hosanna also constitute in-demand offerings from his camp.

Forgetti is also produced by Willis Beats.

 

  1. My Name – Stonebwoy

An uplifting dancehall tune, ZYLOFON act Stonebwoy’s My Name places him in the first-tier of musicians from the country. Riding over Armz House Records’ Forever Riddim, the singer sermonises with gripping charm, the eagerness of people to share in a one’s achievements though they are usually absent at the beginning of his journey.

A BET laureate and recipient of several other awards, Stonebwoy (Livingstone Satekla) just released Epistles of Mama, his fourth studio project after Grade 1, Necessary Evil, and Livingstone.

  1. Bronya – Wutah

With Bronya, the second single after reuniting as a group, the Ghanaian duo comprising Frank Osei (Wutah Afriyie) and Daniel Morris (Wutah Kobby) swiftly reclaimed their spot in the first rank. Conveyed via nostalgic highlife, the song set the tone for Christmas hysteria several months before it finally arrived.

Yaa Baby’s Purse & a Premature Christmas – Wutah’s ‘Bronya’ – A REVIEW

Again, with the KinDee -produced joint, Wutah distinguish themselves as perhaps, the one group capable of staging a real comeback.

  1. My Own – Samini

The DJ Frass-made reggae classic is reminiscent of typical Samini, and lends credence to his longevity as an artist. Afrobeats pretty much dictated the sounds from these parts. The Wa native however, proves that he can challenge the trend and still triumph. He did it with “Music Man”, “My Kind of Girl”, “Odo”, “Where My Baby Dey” among others. So ultimately, it is not necessarily surprising.

My Own is a beautiful narrative of a love that has fully blossomed in the face of great challenges. For his effort on this number, the MOBO winner is in a comfortable lead for “Reggae Song of the Year”, many hold.

  1. Total Cheat – Fancy Gadam

If we entertained any misgivings that the Tamale titan truly deserved the crown of VGMA Best New Artist this year, Fancy Gadam has served us with conclusive evidence. His Gadam Nation tour across principal towns in the country has  attracted droves, and Total Cheat, his brilliant partnership with Sarkodie, has held its own against even more “established” acts.

Off his Mujahid album, the record (produced by Killbeatz) has been truly embraced on radio and on the streets, and helped him truly impress his name in our minds as a “Nation Champion”.

  1. Jennifer Lomotey – Kurl Songx

1st runner-up of Vodafone Icons – Street Edition (2013) and 2016 winner of MTN Hitmaker, Kurl Songx (now signed to Kaywa’s Highly Spiritual Music) reintroduced himself with incendiary pizzazz. Jennifer Lomotey is one of three offerings from him this year, also the most memorable.

The song courted nationwide controversy for a line in featured act Sarkodie’s verse suggesting that women from the Ada tribe are promiscuous, but as is a feature of many Ghanaian scandals, that too has evaporated into thin air.

A highly spiritual WAIST BEAD & a jam for days – ‘Jennifer Lomotey’ – A REVIEW

The song is a masterly highlife jam, and is designed to abide –thanks to production genius displayed by Kaywa. A determined vocal technician, Songx belongs to the Class of 2017, and Jennifer Lomotey, together with his recent Feeling, should serve as sufficient fuel for him come 2018.

  1. Boys Boys – Nacee ft. Guru

Boys Boys is a product of sheer musical command and artistic versatility. Since his entry into the industry  man-years ago, Nacee has perpetually refused to be boxed, participating in music of various bends, but remaining with his core message of inspiration.

REVIEW: ‘Boys Boys’ – Nacee Feat. GURU

The chorus of the song is a double-edged sword –it’s technically suitable for the church premises, and at the same time, meets the requirements of anthems which permeate the lungus and streets of our inner cities.  It ensured him a place among top songs of 2017.

  1. Angela – Kuami Eugene

Lynx Entertainment act and MTN Hitmaker alumnus Kuami Eugene has had the year of his life without question. A talented singer -songwriter and producer, he has worked with sought-after names including Shatta Wale, and label mate KiDi. He has also received praise from greats as Sarkodie.

Produced by Killbeatz, Angela is a bona fide 2017 hit. It is a staple at weddings, parties and across various media.  It has earned him a spot on some of the biggest stages (most recently, Starr FM’s S Concert which recorded attendance in excess of 40, 000).  The accompanying video to the song has been seen nearly 2 million times on YouTube alone.

  1. Odo -KiDi

Singer KiDi is further evidence of Lynx Entertainment’s enormous contribution to Ghana music this year.  It is not alien of the label as it has churned out hits via Asem, OJ Blaq, Ziggy, Eazzy, Irene Logan, label boss Richie Mensah, and MzVee. But this year’s success is truly of a whole new scale.

Also an MTN Hitmaker graduate, KiDi’s Odo, one of two 2017 submissions from him, elevated him to the position of resident loverboy. Self-produced, the song has (among other things) secured him notice, and a remix appearance from Afrobeats superstar Davido.

  1. Leg Over – Mr Eazi

Innovator of the Banku Music sub-genre of Afrobeats, Mr. Eazi has remained stealth in his dealings. We never see him coming, until he is right in our faces. Leg Over, off his Accra to Lagos mixtape, is one of Africa’s biggest songs.

Produced by Nigerian producer E -Kelly, it is a glowing addition to a playlist of songs via which Oluwatosin Oluwole Ajibade ( as he is privately know) has proven himself master of soft sentiments. On YouTube, the video to the tune has recorded over 26 million views.

   12. VIDEO: Bo Noo Ni – Joe Mettle ft. Luigi Maclean

Joe Mettle’s Bo Noo Ni (No one Else), off his 2017 live album God of Miracles made strong case for him as reigning VGMA Artist of the Year, and the Gospel fraternity in general.

Released on September 12, the compelling worship number features talented emerging singer and protégé Luigi Maclean.

    13. Ladder – Lil Win ft. Odehyie Ba

Kwadwo Nkansah Lil Win is a household name as a comic actor, but is also fast-cementing himself as a respected musician. With a growing number of certified hits under his belt (and for his June 2017 song Ladder), Lil Win’s name cannot be ignored in a list thus.

Inspired by Agnes Iro’s “Follow The Ladder”, Lil Win’s Ladder, professes a message parallel to Agnes’, cautioning against carnal behaviour, and charging all to remain focused on the Lord.

      14.  Poison – Ebony ft. Gatdoe

What a year 2017 has proven for the “90s bad girl ” Ebony (Priscilla Opoku-Kwarteng). Like Shatta Wale, the RuffTown act has been pivotal in GH music this year. And though her approach has usually been met with reproach, there’s no debate that she has remained a hit machine.

Poison set things off for the sultry singer (who is widely-tipped to unseat Joe Mettle as VGMA Artist of the Year in 2018). Produced by B2, the song –of highlife build, spread quickly due to her clever use of the Twi language, and her overall vocal grace.

    15.  Sponsor – Ebony

Poison was followed-up by Sponsor –an impish narrative of a young girl navigating modern–day love. What is the place of money in the equation? What is the place of love? What is the place of sex?

   16. Date Your Fada – Ebony

Programmed by Danny Beatz, Date Your Fada is undisguised warning at the boy who dares cause her heartbreak. “If you break my heart I go date your father. You gonna be my son; you go call me your mother.”), she threatens, very much aware of her ammunition.

The song may be the most couragious any Ghanaian act has been in years, and the flair with which she has managed to heap up traction in her favour specifically with this message will confound connoisseurs for years to come.

17.  Hustle – Ebony ft. Brella

Released a month ago, Ebony’s Hustle themed on the daily struggle for survival, but again,  due to her  craftiness with the wording which constitutes the chorus, it suggests something rather lewd.

A zestful jam also produced by Danny Beats, it features label mate Brella, and sits comfortably among greatest hits of 2017.

Her year was crowned with the release of her debut CD BONYFIED, outdoored to thousands at the West Hills Mall days ago, and the release of Maame Hwɛ, an iconic revival of the domestic violence debate, which has swiftly shot up all valid trends online. What a run!

 

18. Obi Agyi Obi Girl – Captain Planet ft. Kofi Kinaata

4×4 member Captain Planet (Sylvanus Dodji Jeoffrey) finally secures a nationwide hit as a solo act after several tries. Enlisting Fante rapper Kofi Kinaata on the witty Mix Masta Garzy joint, Captain Planet explores the woes of losing one’s boyfriend/ girlfriend to another.

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LISTEN: DJ YoGa partners Cameroonian rapper STiinG Jula for “Lessons Over Lessons”

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DJ YOGa’s latest single features Cameroonian rapper STiinG Jula. Titled “Lessons Over Lessons”, it bears a message to the youth to eschew selfishness, jealousy, and hate in everyday life, instead, focusing on developing their talents towards the achievement of their dreams.

STiinG JuLa is a 22-year-old hiphop artist with Cameroonian origins who’s romance with music really started around 16 while he was part of a rap collective back in high school. He has  released an EP and a number of singles. Growing up, he was mostly influenced by occidental music. He is set to release a series of EPs next year,with the intention of blending different flows from the different musical atmospheres he has assimilated growing up in the game.

DJ YoGa is currently working on his debut Aabum which will be released in 2018. Ahead of that, he continues to release impressive singles.

The song is produced by DJ Yoga and mixed & mastered by Ivan Beatz, a fastest-rising music producer in Accra.

Listen to Lessons Over Lessons Here :

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VIDEO: Mobrowa – Abankro

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Singer Abankro presents new music titled Mobrowa, which he dedicates the song to less privilege individuals (especially children) to keep their heads high despite regular challenges.

He also announces that that his Mobrowa foundation will be outdoor soon to provide support for talented but needy kids  across the country.

The song is produce by J Bizzil and portrays the real highlife culture and its impact on the society whilst creating awareness on things around us which we have ignored because of the influx of western culture.

Abankro has developed a new sound which combines Afro-ragga with highlife music. He has a unique voice and his craft projects the values of Ghana. The name Abankro means ” I have come to stay”.

Abankro’s decision to do highlife music was inspired by his mother who was a member of a highlife band in the past, as well as listening to music from Nana Ampadu, Obouba JA Adofo ,Akwesi Ampofo Adjei, Amakye Dede,Obrafour and Kumi Guitar.

Abankro is working on an album dedicated solely to less privileged, scheduled to be released next year.

Watch Mobrowa below:

 

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Juliet Ibrahim & Iceberg Slim named ambassadors for Oros perfume

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International perfume brand OROS has chosen love birds, Iceberg Slim and Juliet Ibrahim as celebrity influencers for its seasonal campaign. The two celebrities are a perfect pair to exude the vision of the perfume brand in Africa. Oros was officially launched in Lagos, Nigeria earlier this year shortly after its Dubai debut.

Follow them on social media @OrosFragranceNG for up to date sales and activities.

Oros for Women – The fragrance is described as elegant, provocative and free spirited, a scent full of passion and emotion. Oros is a floral fragrance with an enchanting blend of romantic jasmine and sensual tuberose.
Oros for Men – The all-pervasive scent gives to its wearer an esoteric and fascinating feel enjoyed by men who are avid for energy, sports and adventure. Oros, an aromatic woody fragrance is supremely masculine and seductive.

The company is expected to release more visuals in the coming months.

 

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Events & Places

Christiana Addo Memorial Foundation to Fete Beneficiaries

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The Christiana Addo Memorial Foundation (CAMF) established in memory of the mother of the MUSIGA President Bice Osei Kuffour aka Obour is to fete youngsters in the Juaso area as part of its activities for the Christmas holidays.

According to Obour, CAMF will undertake a series of clean up exercises in Juaso and Obogu on December 24 and 25 and climax with the Christmas party for the youngsters. In addition to providing the youngsters with entertainment and refreshing them, they will also receive sanitary products from the Foundation to promote their personal hygiene. Some of the items to be presented include personal hygiene products like toothbrushes, toothpastes, deodorants and soap. Meanwhile the Foundation has begun processing application forms from applicants for support for their education.

Speaking at the launch of the Foundation, the Chairman of the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) and National Youth Organizer, Sammy Awuku applauded Obour and his siblings on such a bold initiative to both honor the memory of their late mother while contributing to the socio-economic development of the community. He assured the Foundation of the support of the agency in their operations.

The Asante Akyem South MP Lawyer Asante Boateng on his part commended Obour and his siblings on the establishment of the Foundation and assured them of his support to realize their aspirations.

The Christiana Addo Memorial Foundation will provide scholarships to successful applicants to pursue courses at various levels of their education. CAMF will support brilliant students who are financially handicapped especially the girl child from the deprived rural communities of Juaso and adjoining communities through the provision of scholarships at the tertiary level. The Foundation is also to promote sanitation and personal hygiene as critical pillars to health, survival, and development in the Asante Akyem area.

According to Obour, the decision to establish the foundation is due to his mum’s selflessness and strong, unshakable conviction in education as a lifeline to poverty eradication. He says, knowing the value of education, his mother endured enormous sacrifices to educate him and his siblings. He added that the foundation is also to celebrate the unwavering and strong leadership qualities of Christiana Addo as a role model for all women especially single mothers.

The Christiana Addo Memorial Foundation was set up with the vision to become an organization that impacts lives and helps transform and bring sustainable development to the Asante Akyem Area especially the South, Central and North Districts of the Asante Akyem rural area.

 

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Richard Addisson Foundation Marks Ten Years Of Successive Growth [+images]

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The RICHARD ADDISSON FOUNDATION (TRAF) a non-governmental youth philanthropy is marking 10 years of giving assistance to the less privileged in Ghanaian communities.

TRAF was founded by Richard Addison, the CEO of Kent Investment, a multi-layered firm that currently holds investments in the fields of Agriculture (Kent Farms), haulage services (ARE Haulage Services), an IT/information system and management company (K.SIS) and recently acquired major stake in a Digital Graphics and Advertising company  (Beyound Graphics).

The foundation which was set up to put smiles on the faces of the very poor, needy and under privileged across the country is marking the decade of doing good with the launch of an after school programme in collaboration with Matic Foundation run by Award winning Hiplife act Trigmatic.

The After Work Programme which will be cordinated by Trigmatic, Teachers in the chosen communities benefiting from the programme and leaders of TRAF will focus on Maths and Science, Sex Education and First Aid.

“When charity began at home, me, you and every young adult did not sit down for Bill Gates to dole out money for the eradication of Malaria on our, we gave up a bottle of beer for one treated mosquito net everyday”- Richard Addison

“TRAF started ten years ago by distributing thousands of mosquito nets on annual basis to help eradicate malaria which is a predominant illness killing these poor and needy who sleep around the central business district of Sekondi Takoradi, and also to all the major hospital in the metropolis.”

The Richard Addison Foundation (TRAF), now focuses on projects ranging from farming, provision of water and renovation of schools for deprived communities.

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