As someone who rarely listens to any of the new musicians on the local scene, I was surprised at how excited I was to hear Fuse ODG’s ‘Antennae’ on BBC’s Top of the Pops’ last weekend. I have been listening to the show for over seven years and that was the first time I had heard a song by a Ghanaian musician. Suddenly it wasn’t the song with strange lyrics. I texted everyone I knew who loved the song that it had made it into the top ten songs in the UK pop charts.
I was still excited until I heard Sarkodie’s ‘Illuminati’ on radio on Monday morning. I get that hip hop is about self aggrandizement but must he release a song about his riches every five minutes. They say there are stories all around us so finding lyrics shouldn’t be difficult but all Sarkodie does is to write about himself. Murmur about him, and it’s a song – no one will be surprised if the title of this piece becomes the title of his next song.
In his defense he has some truly good songs that my friends and I have drooled over. But he still hasn’t been able to break onto the world stage. I blame his prolific release of songs, poor marketing and the dalliances with Nigerian musicians for his inability to become a world star like Fuse ODG and Psy.
However it seems to me, that Mr. Obidi is content being the village champion hence the endless rants about his shopping trips and advertising deals. In most of his songs, he carries no influence. And I’m afraid if he goes on this way, he’d remain the village champion and his talent will go to waste.
So here’s free advice to Sarkodie and all the other Ghanaian musicians churning out the same songs with incoherent lyrics about sex, women and little else. It’s not for nothing that it has taken Jay-Z and Kanye West over three years to release their next albums. It takes more than just a good voice to sell your songs, you’ve got to have great lyrics and sounds. I cannot emphasize the importance of great sound and lyrics, it has to be sharper, crisper and different all the time. Trust, we can tell when one of them is crap.
And this doesn’t come with the release of a single every two months, it takes a lot of experimentation to find the right mix – that’s why Kojo Antwi has never released any terrible songs. When you have the lyrics and sounds down, then you should have a marketing plan. You should definitely do concerts, feature musicians from other countries in your songs to gain access into their countries.
Please! Nigeria isn’t the only country on the African continent. They have great musicians but I don’t get why every Ghanaian musician wants to do a song with a Nigerian. It’s not like you gain equal access into the Naija market as they do here by pairing with you. That song with Tiwaa Savage will not get Sarkodie a headline concert in Nigeria neither will it get him access to the many American contacts Tiwaa and her friends has who can get onto the world stage.
Honestly, it’s each one for himself and God for us all here, it’s the big brother situation. The Nigerians are looking out for themselves and rightly so. The lack of appreciation for showing them how to do the Azonto is proof enough.
In any case why are Ghanaian musicians only singing with Nigerians? They are not the only ones with talent on the continent, the South Africans, the Senegalese and Malians have been winning Grammys long before Iyanya and co. Shouldn’t we be riding on their backs onto the world stage instead?