Gone are the days when Kumasi was seen as the crux and hub of Ghanaian music and in extension, the entire creative art industry.
The sound of an engrossing live band was a welcome tone when one arrived at Oseikrom in those days. The good old highlife music and the then Kumawood movies were indispensable in the country.
Highlife music genre which originated in the early 20th century has since been the mother of all other music genres in the country. Highlife music has been the most dominant music genre in Ghana and has produced many great local and international musicians.
One such highlife musician is the legendary Daddy Lumba/DL who has about 30 albums to his name. Other great legends include Pat Thomas, Akosua Agyapong, Daasebre Gyamena and Dr. Paa Bobo who have all made various impacts in the music industry.
A new generation of artistes – Akwaboah Jnr, Kofi Kinaata, Kuami Eugene, Kidi – have also picked up the highlife cymbal and are now rocking the highlife genre with swag and a 21st century vibe.
Personally, I have come to believe that there is an existing dominative power in the Ghanaian creative arts industry that tends to move the limelight on an area from one part of the country to the other, erratically.
To do this, the area must debut a new trend or fresh style of an existing genre, or try to manipulate it to suit its setting. This dominative power does not only switch the trend from one place to the other but also sparks conversations that in the end leads to an exodus of the industry players to the new hot bed.
In reference to this, can we say the spark of the ‘Kumerica movement’ by the people of Kumasi is purported to win back the music dominance? Over the years, the creative arts industry seem to be centralised in Accra a little after the introduction of Hiplife music genre by artiste, Reggie Rockstone.
This genre of music fuses highlife with hip-pop; a genre that gained popularity throughout West Africa and abroad, especially in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Germany in the late 1990s.
Hiplife has taken Ghana to a different pedestal, done marvellously well in projecting the country to the world and with artistes like Lord Kenya, Reggie Rockstone, Asem, Kwaw Kesse, Obour, Mzbel, Okyeame Kwame, Sarkodie and others.
Some years later, the people of Tema took over the mantle with the ‘Azonto music.’ The Azonto music is said to be initiated by Sarkodie, one of the most influential musicians in the country at the moment. Azonto music shook Ghana from 2012-2015 and even migrated to other African countries like Nigeria. Artistes like Sarkodie, R2Beez, Guru, D. Cryme, Wizkid, EL, Tiffany, Fuse ODG and Chris Waddle all released different songs under this ‘genre’ that both the young and old, elite and average, grooved to.
Unlike highlife and Hiplife, Azonto couldn’t stand the test of time and fizzled out gradually.
Currently, the new face of music in Ghana has no specific popular genre as it blends multiple genres, both local and foreign. The country has come to know popular genres like Hip-hop, Afropop, Dancehall, R&D, Trap, Afrotrap, Drill, Reggae etc.
Tema and Accra still serve as the epicenter with Takoradi closely following in the music game in Ghana.
The game hasn’t been easy for the people of Kumasi since they lost their mantle in the highlife and early hip-life era, leaving few Kumasi base artistes like Flowking Stone, Okyeame Kwame, Strongman and Cabum in the game.
This form of shuffle made it difficult for some musicians to remain relevant in the game, and by doing so, one has to relocate to gain a chance in the industry.
Few months ago, Ghana has experienced a new wave of music from a new crop of artistes most particularly from Kumasi. ‘Kumerican drill (Asakaa music)’ as it is being called, is Ghana’s version of the popular HipHop Drill music genre.
As cited by MuseAfrica.com, ‘Drill music is a style of trap music that originated in the South Side of Chicago in the early 2010’.
According to kuupeeps.com, Pop Smoke has been referred to as the rapper who re-introduced Drill to New York.
In Ghana, it’s being called the Kumerican drill because the movement is being spearheaded by emerging rappers in Kumasi. They mostly refer to this as ‘Asakaa music’.
This new wave is presenting a change to the narrative and turning media attention to the Garden city of Kumasi.
In its initial stage, it seemed hopeless but is gradually gaining foot. Kawabanga, Jay Bahd, Kwaku DMC, Yaw Tog, Reggie, Xzone and many more have managed to take their side of popularity through this new wave.
It’s obvious that the Asakaa music is not getting the necessary attention it needs but I believe with time, and good works, Kumasi can get its grounds back to dominate in the Ghanaian music industry.
Maxwell Bonnah is a student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism and an upcoming artiste.
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