08’ will go down in history as the year a black man Obama became the world’s sweetheart on his way to the American Presidency. Of course it is also the year capitalism came crushing down to its own creation in the credit crunch.
The music industry took a huge crunch on its own with dwindling sales. Rap music perhaps got hit the most with its topmost acts falling in sales as fans switched to downloading from you tube and MySpace. Nas’ proclamation that “Hip hop is dead!” resonated all throughout the year and not even Lil Wayne’s emergence could stop it.
In the GH, Hiplife underwent a transformation switching from the Highlife laced instrumentation and “jama” format to its Hip hop roots in the form of Crunk music. The innovation and new trend did little to improve the perpetually poor sales and returns of artistes though.
The radio star definitely started to lose some of its shine, as more acts switched to music videos to promote their albums as “payola” soared to new heights with the average asking price of DJs rising to 2000GH and above thus ensuring that money bought hits on radio.
New copyright laws were passed amidst stiff opposition from musicians and industry stakeholders, MUSIGA split finally as estranged members turned whistle blowers and new copyright societies sprung out of nowhere. Musicians added politics to their repertoire of activities and gained new grounds as politicians. Along the line industry lost two stalwarts in Faisal Helwani and Michael Dwamena. Nobody can forget the MadHaus Records hype that promised big money and record deals only to fizzle out unceremoniously. The Ghana Music Awards also came with the usual controversy, but of course all the noise made died down afterwards.
No doubt the rap genre took quite a hit in 08’ but amidst dwindling sales and emerging genres alongside the usual hustle of being a musician in a non existent industry, which are the emcees who have managed to stay on top of the game. Let’s take a look.
#1 On top of my list for the biggest MCs of 08 is Kwaw”Abodam”Kesse.The madman and his MadTime Entertainment Crew are currently riding high on the Hiplife waves. Abodam’s success is perhaps the biggest indication of the paradigm shift in the Hiplife industry. “His madness,” the King of the Street rode to supremacy at the Ghana Music Awards sweeping awards including the coveted award for “Artiste of the year” with MadTime taking home the Record Label of the year. He also earned a nomination for Discovery of the year at the Zain MAMA Awards.
#2.Okyeame Kwame: With the release of his sophomore effort appropriately titled “M’awinesem” the rap doctor cemented his position in the GH as a true lyricist. The success of joints such as “Woso “and others plus his amazing stage acts ensured that the MC from Oseikrom stayed in high demand for every major gig all throughout the year. He was the toast of fans who voted him as the Music Icon of the Year at the Joy Fm Night with the Stars.
#3: ASEM: Undoubtedly the act responsible for popularizing the new genre of Crunk music, A-S-E-M’s “Give me Blow” track was one of the genre defining joints of the year and totally transformed the rap music scene in the country. Suddenly even ace hip lifers were switching to his brand of music and if I may add even trying to “copy his style”. Recent outputs on the scene are absolute proof of this fact.
So who were the stars who failed to shine in 08’?
#1: Castro: The “destroyer” made a switch from the “jama” format that he had perfected over the years to the Crunk and didn’t fare too well in the switch. His new album failed to make much of a buzz with only one joint making it on the airwaves. Perhaps that could be attributed to other factors but the ‘destroyer’ seems to have slipped into absentia afterwards making a few appearances alongside Kwaw Kesse at a couple of shows.
#2WUTAH: Following the hugely successful debut “annamontuo” the duo released their second LP “Burning Desire”. They however failed to meet the success of their previous outing as very little promotion has been done thus far. As a result the Wutah boys have failed to live up to the precedent they set last year.
#3 A-PLUS: The “conscious” rapper’s “Letter to the West” LP failed to shine though he kept to his style of lashing out at politicians and their misdemeanors .He has recently risen to prominence as one of a number of musicians turned political campaigners for the “BIG” tour.
#4 SAMINI: The baritone voiced Reggae act‘s third outing “Dagaati” didn’t quite make the cut after lots of buzz and hype. It is early days yet however and the MOBO award winning act will look to 2009 to make an impact.08’ wasn’t his best.
#5 Lord Kenya: The rap ace’s “God Dey” which he referred to as “10 years of Kenyacal” [whatever that means] failed to make the mark and resurrect his career. The death of his daughter soon after the album’s release perhaps contributed to the poor promotion and the lack luster performance of the LP.
The year certainly had some bright spots in terms of some new and refreshing talents. Take a look.
#1 Sarkodie: This act has made his mark as a free stylist and is largely considered to be the fastest lyricist on the scene. With the release of his maiden effort christened “Makye” the lyricist with a penchant for humorous lyrics is hoping to add substance to his current hype and make an impact on the industry.2009 could just be his time to shine.
#2 Trigmatic: The young MC is one of the acts whose potentials have been stifled by the payola menace and restricted his commercial success. His debut “Stain on a Cloth “made a buzz on the underground scene and he is poised to transform that into commercial success.GH watch out for the “BARD BOY” in 2009.
#3Virus: This Dansoman based HipHopper will blow a lot of cats out of the water with his flow and great delivery. Virus is a talented story teller and come 2009, GH will wake up to a new sound of HipHop.
#4 Bradez: The Oseikrom duo made a bit of a buzz with their maiden EP but still have to contend with having most of their fun base in their Oseikrom home base. Their sophomore effort seems to have all the material to make the right impact in 09 and I would be expecting them to make Kunta kinte and Stone to make the most of it.
With a wealth of talent 09 is sure looking like it might actually be the tear GH music comes of age, but as they say ‘we wait to see’!!!
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