- Rocky Dawuni was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album
- Shatta Wale was a nominee after Beyonce’s Lion King album was nominated for the Grammys
- M.anifest was a nominee when Burna Boy’s African Giant album was nominated for the Grammys
- Fuse ODG won a Grammy after co-writing with Ed Sheeran on Bibia Be Ye Ye, a record which was on Ed’s Divide which won Best Pop Vocal Album in 2018.
- Killbeats, also won a Grammy as he was the producer for the very song Fuse co-wrote.
- Jonathan Awotwe Mensah & Ama Ata Aidoo are all Grammy winners, as her voice was used on Monsters You Made off Burna Boy’s Twice as tall album, which took a Grammy this year.
Here’s one problem. We have 3 Ghanaian acts who have won Grammys. But when do you hear anyone talking about these things? Did anyone ask Fuse about the story behind co-writing with Ed Sheeran? Did anyone get to know behind-the-scenes how Killbeats was instrumental, literally, in making the record come to life? Nope. We could not care less because it isn’t the people we care about.
Why does it seem like the metric for praise drastically reduces for feats that are the same across the board but only with apparently lesser-known individuals? The first problem is we didn’t even appreciate these people when they did, in fact when their Grammys. We didn’t sit down with them. Get to understand how the industry out there works and how these leaps can help the Ghanaian industry.
Instead, we forgot about their feats. Because we believe some people we admire or listen to should be in the running for the Grammys. We think the stuff we believe is hot is the stuff that will make headway when the time comes.
It’s not like a Grammy win is a foreign thing to Nigerian artists, but you have to ask yourself, what has pushed them into the limelight to compete the way they are competing?
Our Listening Culture
Our industry is broken. No, scratch that. Our listening culture is broken. Broken because we have grown accustomed to a certain way of life and sound here. We believe the world revolves around us and everything else we don’t fancy is nonsense and shouldn’t be paid attention to.
The average Ghanaian listener is not even listening to Ghanaian music because of the content or skill – they listen to the music because it’s what everyone is playing and listening to. The thought and idea that our standard of music is outrightly the best is a sad thing eating away at our entertainment industry.
We have praised mediocrity so much, and when our artists do not flourish; we have a problem with them. We are the same ones encouraging hit songs and singles, then we turn our backs and say our artists don’t give us enough projects. Then when the artists give us projects, we label them trash.
The listeners are a problem, but in an era of Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, and general streaming, we are already too far gone to turn back. The streaming services have brought a playlist culture into the system, which pushes listeners to listen to albums looking for the pop songs they like to put on their lists.
So now, slowly but surely, the album culture is dying away. This presents a problem – if our artists turn to hit singles as their last resort, the Grammys are long gone, unless, of course, you secure strategic features and collaborations with the already big-name artists that the Grammys are familiar with.
Shatta Wale being featured by Beyonce and M.anifest being featured by Burna Boy are distinct examples.
Drake featured Wizkid on One Dance. These moves and measures are not random, they are measured. A curious case is Davido, who has reversed the setup featuring these artists. The problem with that is, your name isn’t registered on the grammy radar unless the song goes through the universal roof.
There’s a system in place and the culture we have projected on our artists is destroying their ability and chances to stand on the international stage.
If the listeners don’t start adapting to the diverse talents, we are being blessed within our generation. If they don’t stop comparing fan bases and numbers between their favored artists and unite to rally behind the artists who go the lengths, we’ll continue to be in the rut that we’re in.
It’s not like Nigerians are genuinely producing their sounds on their own, they draw inspiration from our music scene as well. So the question is why is someone scaling, with inspiration from our scene, while we look like we’re just retrogressing.
We’re just okay with VGMAs. Just okay with radio and club bangers. Just okay with hot singles.
In the next issue, we’ll touch on what Gyakie went through because of our listening culture, our artists’ and producers’ problems.