Friday December 1, 2017
Anadwo 10 o’clock –Accra Sports Stadium (GA-111-8662): A vigorous wave has now taken charge of the realm. It has been building up steadily for three or four hours now. A sea of hands is raised towards the heavens …as if anticipating a messiah’s apparition. Above is a vast firmament pregnant with impending history. This very sky, which was eyewitness to a similar spectacle a year ago, is just as eager for what unfolds tonight.
Between earth and sky is a gentle breeze regulating the atmosphere, the ends of dazzling stage lights, and a sprightly white bird chronicling the momentous sight below. Piloted by expert thumbs on a console, the bird may have to be grounded soon, lest it be blown to pieces by fireworks from the stands. From mighty speakers emanate a forceful bass that hits the chest more powerfully than coarse palms looking to ease burning sensations caused by a tot of Shocker, hastily gulped with a dense grimace. After much publicity, Starr FM’s “S Concert 2017” is upon us.
A messiah will descend alright…several, in fact. Over 50 performers (budding and mainstream alike) are expected to mount the high-status stage this evening: B4bonah, Joyce Blessing, Fancy Gadam, Ebony, King Jerry, Bukom Banku, Ebony, Stonebwoy, Dope Nation, Kumi Guitar, Mr. Eazi, Kuami Eugene, KiDi, Shatta Wale, Samini, Ras Kuuku, BBNZ acts Shaker and Ko-jo Cue, Article Wan, Obibini, Joyce Blessing, Gifty Osei, Kwadwo “Lil Win” Nkansah, Darkovibes, Captain Planet etc.
Due to time constrains and reported “backstage issues”, a number of these acts would not be able to perform, most notably Ebony, Mr. Eazi, and Samini, but the show would be epic nonetheless. Why? It’s the “S Concert”.
The popular wings (the only available space left) are filling up rapidly, and there’s an equally teeming pack outside the mighty stadium walls, waiting [im]patiently to make their way through heavy security, grab their bottles of Rush Energy, and join their compatriots in the arena.
An estimated 40, 000 patrons would attend this year’s show. Similar numbers have been recorded at previous editions (held at the Osu Oxford Street, the Trade Fair Center – Accra, and this stadium) –making it the biggest Ghanaian concert in recent times.
For the second year running, Shatta Wale is the reason for the gathering. How can one tell? Praise songs dedicated to him can be heard right from when the gates opened, to when he makes his triumphant entry at 2:35, Saturday morning. Even when other acts come on stage, it is his name that echoes all around, not theirs. Furthermore, whenever turntablists feel like energy levels in the crowd need boosting, it is the dancehall singer’s tunes they resorts to: “Dem Confuse”, and “Freedom” drawing the most cheer.
A stadium audience is at the end of the day, one of the truest tests of an artist’s character (performance-wise). Such a crowd is intimidating and not one to be experimented with. Constituting the most demanding lot an artist will ever face, they could dismantle him within seconds. A single misstep, a bit of slumber, and so shall his doom come –as one that is unarmed in the presence of a poisonous snake. It is why some acts (understandably) would stay clear of multitudes thus, sticking only to intimate crowds of devoted fans. At the same time, a crowd thus, could serve as the single piece he the artist, needs to cement his name within serious conversations pertaining to worthy musicians. It is why singer Ebony (whom it is widely-held, would have reaffirmed herself as the strongest contender for 2018 VGMA Artist of the Year with her act) being unable to perform this year particularly is unfortunate. She was present at last year’s edition, but her clout was far lower. This time around, she was one of the most highly –anticipated, and it would have been good for VGMA quest. Her journey to VGMA glory remains on course, but a 2017 “S Concert” appearance would have effectively sealed matters.
…or Tamale Titan Fancy Gadam, who defiantly mounts the stage after Shatta Wale completes his set (which is suicidal in many cases, but brave in his). Storming gallantly onstage with the pump and pageantry remniscent of a true royal, and a stagecraft perfected from years and years of practice, he displays that he’s now fully shed the tag of “northern artist”, taking on the mainstream like a high-quality warrior. He is received by an appreciable crowd, which is verification that he is now a subject of national conversations. Like Ebony, Gadam (born Ahmed Mujahid Bello) eyes the coveted VGMA laurel. This year, his effort is one to be emulated. Not unaccustomed to filling large arenas, Fancy has taken on major cities across the country and triumphed –the most recent being his November 26 Bukom Square date, which was completely sold out, by the way.
Also, he has contributed to a playlist of the biggest songs this year. His “Total Cheat”, featuring rapper Sarkodie, is a bona fide nationwide hit, and this is despite offerings by Shatta Wale, Kuami Eugene, Ebony, Patapaa, KiDi and Wutah.
Established heads know how to manage such numbers. Both Stonebwoy and Shatta Wale are at a position in their careers where they have little else to prove, and cannot be taken aback by any Ghanaian crowd. Their performances, masterfully dispatched to deafening cheers and the blasting sound of fireworks, are not entirely surprising because they’re gurus now.
The concert may be attended for top acts as Stonebwoy and Shatta, but it’s now very much the new generation’s too; specific reference being Lynx Entertainment hit machines Kuami Eugene and KiDi. It is the dream of every act to, at some point in their career, have and congregation (including celebrated broadcaster and media mogul Bola Ray) like was recorded at the Accra Sports Stadium last Friday, chant back choruses to their songs. To be able to achieve that this early in their career is colossal. Buoyed by titanic energy being fed to them by the mammoth gathering, the lads render performances fitting of A- list artists. Singlehandedly, Eugene and KiDi take turns to ride the current like true pros, requiring assistance from neither dancers nor hypemen –just allowing themselves to be possessed by the music that Starr FM DJ Vyrusky spins. At vantage points in omnipresent anthems as “Hiribaba”, “Say You Love Me”, “Odo”, and “Angela”, Vyrusky would drag down faders on his console to allow the crowd a part of the performance, which they roared excitedly. Moments as these, KiDi submits, are up there with the best feelings in the world.
Though he was not originally slated to perform, Edem’s showing at “S Concert 2017” once and for all, puts to bed any public notion (or any personal perception he might entertain) that he is underrated/ marginalized by the establishment due to the language he raps in. Over an illustrious career starting in 2009, the VRMG founder has built a glowing portfolio of both hip-hop and dance-ready jams. He belongs to the first rank of Ghanaian acts today, and that should never come up for debate. Tracks as “Bougez”, ‘Bra Fremi Fremi”, “Heyba”, “Ghetto Arise”, “Over Again”, “Go Higher”, “Koene”, “The One”, and “Nyedzilo” have not merely been groundbreaking upon release, but have also served as great models for marrying multiple genres as well as creative and cultural backgrounds seamlessly. His primary language of delivery (Ewe) notwithstanding, he has crossed over effectively, and with cunning ease. He is the main Volta act of his generation who has sustained crossover appeal this well. In this regard, Edem is a genius.
For him, the Ghanaian task is done. Now comes the African agenda, and he is duly equipped. His forthcoming album, his 4th, is aptly titled “The African Answer”. The project, set for release early next year, was co-produced by respected American producer Coptic –with whom he has regularly collaborated. Coptic comes unto this project with major influence, having engineered hits for global stars as Notorious B.I.G, P Diddy, Usher, Snoop Dogg and a host of others. When Edem’s new project is finally published, a rousing reception, like was accorded him at the stadium, is specifically what will happen.
A key date on our entertainment calendar, the “S Concert” is now bigger that just Accra. It is therefore welcome news that, according to inside reports, there are plans to stage it in other parts of the country. Also, it should see more female acts if it is to be taken as truly “a stage for all”, as a statement addressing the backstage challenges emphasizes. While Joyce Blessing and Gifty Osei decently represented the female stock of Ghanaian performers, there still must be an agenda to have more of them on stages thus, because there still exists imbalance regarding women representation in our music. A significant platform as this can help rectify the deficiency…or at least set us on a path.
The “S Concert” proves a powerful opener for the stream of events that flood the Christmas season here. Yet again, the bar has been raised. How will Rapperholic 2017, the BHIM Concert, December 2 Remember et al match up?
*Compered by EIB Network hosts Jason, Giovani Caleb, Sammy B, KOD and IBK, the 2017 “S Concert” was sponsored by Storm Energy Drink, Accra City Hotel, Express Savings and Loans, Ghana Post GPS, Hubtel, and Cosmopolitan Health Insurance.
See more images courtesy EIB & ZYLOFON: