Despite the gloomy commentary Ghanaian music receives, there are twinkle, twinkle little Ghanaian stars in the global music sky that must leave us with satisfaction that Ghana is doing something right to keep the global night bright.
Ghanaian artistes and their counterparts in the diaspora have made impressive strides with their unique talents over the years.
The constant growth witnessed in the industry has pushed Ghanaian music unto one of the world’s renowned music grading charts, The Billboard Charts.
The Billboard charts is a platform which tabulates the relative weekly popularity of music in the United States and other parts of the world.
It may be a small number but these eight Ghanaian acts that have debuted in the charts…
The first act to make it to the chart was Osibisa, the pioneers of Afrobeat music.
It was and still is quite a feat for a group whose genre of music was not widely known to make it unto the charts seven times in a row including twice in 1971 and 1973.
The first appearance was in 1971 with their album “Osibisa”. It entered the Billboard Hot 200 at number 105. The self-titled album climbed the charts and ended up at number 55.
“Osibisa” introduced the world to the group and the powerful Afrobeat music.
The songs on the album, although mainly instrumental, showcased the exceptional prowess of the group when it comes to handling their instruments including saxophone, trumpet, drums, flute, guitars as well as how they used their very distinct vocals.
“Woyaya” followed in 1972 again. The song peaked at number 66 on the Billboard chart. This song, till today, is played and loved by many.
The lyrics “It will be hard we know, and the road will be muddy and rough, but we'll get there” is relatable to religious believers who are holding their faith albeit the difficulty, people who lost loved ones and are trying to get through it and people who are going through tough times.
Basically, everyone, one way or the other found themselves realting passionately with the words while believing in the hope that it projected, “heaven knows where we are going”.
“Woyaya” is also the title of Osibisa’s second studio album.
Some songs in this album had clear Ghanaian traditional sounds mixed with western instruments to create the piece of art that is Afrobeat which, unknown to them then, would be widely used across Africa and the world years after it had debuted.
In 1972, Osibisa made an appearance on the charts again with their third studio album “Heads”. The album reached 125 on the charts.
The nine-track album did not only have more but also more of the Ghanaian language Twi representing in songs like “Krokrokoo”, “Mentumi” and “Yie Tie Wo”.
The album also catered to foreigners with songs like “Wango Wango”, “Sweet America” which tells a story of a traveller admiring the United States and “Did You Know” talking about the possibilities of the future and the inescapable changes ageing brings to the human body.
Ultimately, the songs on this album will get a listener dancing and also prompt them to think deeply about things they hardly paid attention to.“Superfly TNT”, a soundtrack by Osibisa for the movie “Super Fly TNT" appeared at number 159 on the charts.
The American crime movie which depicts the life of a former drug dealer named Youngblood Priest was released in 1973, a sequel to the 1972 film “Super Fly”.
The global hit spent 10 weeks on the chart and peaked at number 41 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
Osibisa’s 1973 album “Happy Children” followed. The group’s fourth studio album peaked at number 202 on the Billboard album charts.
“Happy Children” is an album that will eventually get you on your feet dancing like an ecstatic child playing with friends even though his mother has been waiting hours for that salt she sent him to buy.
In 1974, “Osibirock”, appeared on the charts at number 175.
The fifth studio album, just like the first served fans with brilliant instrumentals of the Afrobeat music. Remember the sounds played in old Nigerian movies when the people are walking in the evil forest or going to see a priest?
Osibisa begins songs like “Komfo”, “Home Affairs” and “Kelele” in the album with some of those beautiful sounds, purely African!
“Welcome Home” Osibisa’s sixth studio album debuted on the Billboard album chart at number 200.
The album was known for its title song “Welcome Home” which was dedicated to Africans in the Diaspora who wanted to return home.
It was a song to remind these Africans not to forget there is a family ready to welcome them with open arms anytime they decided on a return.
The song had verses like “You've been gone it's an empty home. Come on back when you're ready to know. You are always welcome home. Come with me, on this happy trip back to the Promised Land. All will be happy again” to encourage Africans in the diaspora not to be afraid of coming home.
Also, Osibisa in the concept of “Welcome Home” included the popular Ghanaian Highlife genre into the songs “Choboi” and “Right Now” but with the numerous instruments and talents at their disposal, they added their style turning the songs into a more classical version of the genre.
“Sunshine Day”, the first song on the “Welcome Home” album in May 1976, entered the charts under the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and peaked at number 61. The song spent 9 weeks on the charts.
“Sunshine Day’s” encourages people to smile because it can go a long way to brighten their day.
The song, however, did not sway too far from “Welcome Home” concept with lyrics like “Celebration, we’re together, Come join your hands in harmony” telling a story of a reunion and togetherness.
Afro-pop singer Wiyaala appeared on the Billboard Next Big Sound chart with the song “Go Go Black Starts… Goal!”.
The song which encourages the Black Stars players to rise up and show the world what they have was the official 2014 world cup song for the team.
Wiyaala is the first female Ghanaian artiste and the second act to enter the charts.
Reggae Legend Rocky Dawuni first appeared on the charts in 2015 after the release of his album “Branches of the same Tree”.
The 6th studio album from the musician peaked at number 10 on the Billboard album charts.
Songs on this sensational eleven track album talk about Africa, the music, the need to learn, the life, togetherness, love and many more. Basically, the necessities (branches) found in the African culture (tree).
“Black Star” teaches the Africans to rise, educate their hearts and mind, remember who they are and rise again like the mighty people they are.
Toeing the line, “Shine a Light” encourages Africans to pursue more in life and do more for themselves.
The musician also did a remake of the popular Bob Marley song “Get Up Stand Up”.
“Butterfly” and “Island Girl” delves more into love. Rocky Dawuni in “Island Girl” exceptionally talks enjoying a relationship with a girl who is "notoriously shy".
He did not leave the African love for music and dance out. His song “African Thriller” talks more about the creative African songs that get a listener dancing all day long.
“African Thriller (hot hot). Na Champion ruler (Hot hot),” if you have heard some African songs, you cannot argue with that.
This UK based Ghanaian singer appeared on the Billboard chart in 2016 after he was featured on “Light it Up” by Major Lazer.
The song spent 20 weeks on the chart and peaked at number 73.
Dancehall artiste Stonebwoy after the release of his album “Epistles of Mama” in 2017 appeared on the Billboard World Albums chart.
The song which spent a week on the charts peaked at number 13. The album also ranked as the number two best reggae album in the world in 2017.
According to the artiste, the album was dedicated to his mother who had passed on in July 2015.
Although songs on the album spoke about love and relationships, “Souljah” dedicated it to people in the streets urging them to stay focused and remain strong in their fight to do well, “For anything good Jah count me in. God bless my enemies, to be rich and know how envy feel… 24/7 positive thinking, till the day, is over,” the lyrics said.
The song that inspired the album title “Mama” had an amazing saxophone version in the album. It tells the story of a young man who wonders where he would have ended without the guidance and love of his beloved mother.
Inspiring and touching!
The album also had “Same God” where artiste tells of the blessings the Almighty has showered in his life.
It is always appreciated when people do not forget where they came from, value their present and work diligently towards their future. Stonebwoy’s “Epistles of Mama” creatively presents these three important features.
Stonebwoy featured artistes like Efya, King Promise, Kelvyn Boy, Sarkodie, Joy B and Kofi Kinaata.
Internationally he featured Sean Paul on “Most Original”, Vanessa Bling of Jamaica, Damaris, South African rapper AKA, Nigeria’s Burna Boy and Praiz.
The self-acclaimed dancehall artiste entered the Billboard charts with his album “Reign”. The artiste peaked at number 6 on the charts.
Fans of Shatta Wale filled the Fantasy Dome at Trade fair support the artiste in his unveiling. The first copy of the “Reign” album was sold at GH¢150,000.
"Reign" is a 17 track album which features Nigerian artiste, Olamide, on “Wonders” the 9th track on the list. Some of the songs on the album include “Amount”, “Give Dem Something”, “Crazy”, “Bend Over” and others.
The artiste surprised his fans when he released the video of his “Gringo” music video cowboy style. The unique style of the video helped the song trend for weeks.
But that was not the only surprise the diverse artiste had in his pocket for fans. At his “Reign” album concert, Shatta Wale proposed to Shatta Michy, his long-time girlfriend and mother of his son, Majesty.
The musician after being in the industry for approximately two decades appeared on the Billboard Charts after the release of his seventh studio album “Untamed”.
The album appeared on the Billboard World Reggae Albums in the first week of January 2019 after its release in December 2018.
“Untamed” spent a week on the chart.
Samini, with his unique style, over the years in his career, has dabbled in different genres including Highlife, Hiplife, Reggae, Dancehall, Afro Pop and Afrobeats.
However, the artiste in “Untamed” 22 track album went solely reggae. He served fans with songs they can enjoy while relaxing but can still jam to it alone or at a concert.
One thing the artiste made sure to add to this album was messages and sounds that listeners could relate to on every level.
“Obra” meaning life, talks about how much a struggle life is. He talks about fearing human after gentleman suffering outside the country realised the money, he sent home to build a house has been channelled into a marriage ceremony.
Fans can relate to the message from this music as it is an occurrence many people have heard or experienced.
Samini in his inspirational jam “Survival” rooted in pure reggae tune calls on God to deliver and protect him from the traps of the "an eye for an eye" world.
The musician did not leave out the one thing celebrated worldwide, love.
The album has love songs like “Rainbow” which talks about being the light for a loved one, “Falling”, “Craving”, “Island Girl”, “My Woman” and “Girl is Mine”.
The singer who over the years has collaborated with artistes in other parts of the world including Jamaican artiste Popcaan.
In his song “Worldwide”, the artiste talks about how focused he is in his ambition (especially through some of these collaborations) to sell the Ghanaian music in other countries regardless of the distractions.
It looks like he really has if his album has gotten to the world Billboard charts.
One thing about this album is regardless of the fact that reggae music is not originally Ghanaian, he adds his own style and sings many of the songs in Twi, one of the popular spoken language in the country.
Music duo R2Bees made it for the first time to the Billboard charts with their new album “Site 15.”
The fifteen-track album made its debut at number 10 two weeks after its release on March 1, 2019.
This fifth studio album of the hip-hop/hiplife group features Nigeria’s Wizkid, Burna Boy, King Promise and other artistes.
Site 15 focuses heavily on love and relationships with songs like “Sunshine”, “Ex”, “I Dey Miss You” and “Dangerous”.
The duo featured one of Ghana’s favourite King Promise in the love song “Picture” which largely tells the story of a guy who misses his love and turns to look at her picture every time.
This is really familiar among many young men who constantly ask their loves for new pictures themselves especially if they are in a long distant relationship.
R2Bees in their song “My baby” featuring Nigeria’s Burna Boy, they added verses from one of their most loved songs, “I Dey Mad” released in 2009.
The duo in this album turned the spotlight to some other group of artistes in the country.
R2Bees through the song “Boys Kasa” introduced the world to different up and coming artistes.
The ‘Boys Kasa’ song, which trended for weeks on social media, featured underground artistes including B4Bonah, Sinbad, Humble Dis and the La Meme Gang whose members include Kwaku BS, $pacely, Darkovibes, RJZ, Nxwrth and Kiddblack.