In the vibrant tapestry of Ghana’s music scene, a perplexing narrative transcends the beats and rhymes, echoing the untold stories of exceptionally talented rappers who, despite their undeniable prowess, find themselves tethered to the sidelines of the industry.
As the spotlight gleams on a select few, the question looms large: what happened to some of the country’s most talented rappers? Why have they struggled to ascend the summit of their musical careers?
Over a decade ago, an army of rappers emerged from faraway Tema. They graced the Ghana music scene with their lyrical dexterity in mainly the Akan language and Pidgin (broken English). Even with the likes of Okyeame Kwame, Asem, OJ Blakk, Flowking Stone, Cabum, Kwaw Kese, Edem, et al. reigning at this time, one thing was sure: the entry of the boys from Tema was well-noticed among the group of people now known as Gen Z.
Circa 2010, this golden generation of Tema rappers came together for a Christmas rap carol – ‘Come Wine,’ a song that saw several of them take turns to flex their rap muscles on a Possigee beat and usher listeners into the festive celebration. D-Cryme, Sarkodie, Yaa Pono, Chris Waddle, Yaw Siki, Pope Skinny, Opanka, Keche, Stay Jay, Danso Abeam, and Macho Rapper were the most notable on that song.
Sarkodie has since then risen to even greater heights and is inspiring a new crop of artists working hard to make a name for themselves and surviving the muddy waters of Ghana’s music scene. Since the rise of the Tema music scene, he has become the most decorated rapper in Africa, winning multiple international and local awards and recording numerous hit songs. He also hosts one of the biggest Christmas Day concerts in Ghana.
For many of the rest, it seems to be a story of what could have been. Of course, a group like Keche must be commended for still being in the game in 2023. Also, Yaw Siki has retired from the music scene after surviving what could have been a fatal accident several years ago.
Stay Jay’s career was promising. Unfortunately, after about six hit songs, one of which can be considered to have introduced a new derogatory local term for women deemed promiscuous (Shashee), little has been heard of him.
Opanka was that guy! He initially made a significant impact by entering the mainstream music industry with a freestyle on Bradez’s Simple instrumental. His success translated into hits, show opportunities, and the promise of a bright future.
However, despite these early achievements, Opanka faced challenges fully capitalizing on his potential. While he seemed poised to become a distinguished emcee, his narrative parallels those shared by many others in the music industry, as highlighted in the song “Come Wine.” Some of his fans speculated that comparisons with Sarkodie might have affected his trajectory during that period.
D Cryme transitioned from the role of a hype man for Sarkodie to establishing his own identity in the music industry, marked by creating several hit songs. Despite an initially promising trajectory, he faced setbacks in his career. The introduction of Twi Pop, a fusion of Twi, Fante, and Pidgin with hip-hop elements, marked a significant moment in his career. His track “Kill Me Shy” from 13 years ago is still considered one of the biggest songs in his repertoire. However, despite these accomplishments, D Cryme’s career encountered challenges that hindered its continuous ascent.
Yaa Pono once held the title of the street king in Tema. His endearing presence stemmed from a blend of his humorous rap style and lively stage performances, making him a beloved figure among his fans. However, the current whereabouts or circumstances surrounding his career are shrouded in mystery.
There is no doubt that these men were talented. But the question remains: Why have they struggled to ascend the summit of their musical careers?
A simple answer may be that they did not work hard enough. But that answer is very insufficient and overly simplistic.
As influential figures in the music industry increasingly intentionally showcase the country through music, a necessity arises to thoroughly examine these scenarios and assist budding talents. Is the challenge rooted in a deficiency of strategic planning, support systems, or infrastructure? Alternatively, do artists find contentment with their accomplishments in relatively brief careers?
The resurgence of Ghana’s music scene is currently centered in Kumasi, marked by the rise of the widely used term ‘Kumerica.’ The Asakaa Boys have embarked on a successful tour, achieving chart-topping success, and are gearing up for their inaugural concert in Kumasi. Figures like Yaw TOG, Kofi Jamar, Y-Pee, and Oseikrom Sikanii, among others, are thriving in their endeavors, showcasing exceptional talent from the Golden City.
Hopefully, in 2033, this question won’t be asked within the context of the rising rappers from Kumasi.
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