VGMA 2018: State of the Arts

This is not a review of Teephlow’s award-winning record. The phenomenal piece of art rightly won record of the year. Good luck to him, and more Fante to his flows!

For those who missed it, the 19th VGMA came and went over the weekend. The night gave us plenty to talk about and laugh. Loads of trolls have been made of the show, from Dumelo’s political affiliation to Patapaa’s MC Hammer outfit. King Promise’s Camboo should keep him grounded for a while. Or you say wetin?

Like I said, there was plenty to talk about, like how Nasty C flew from SA to come mime on stage. My interpretation of the situation is that, he saw how unwholesome the band was and worried that they would mar his own performance. He was thoroughly outclassed by Tiwa Savage who, despite miming her way through her performance, showed the zeal and prowess that has made her the Queen of African Music. I mean, even Dumelo got the crowd excited when he did the Akwaaba dance. Nasty has won the BET and appeared on Sway in the Morning, which should have affected his performance positively. And the crowd couldn’t care less.

At a show or concert, a musician is expected to perform. The audience could go to the club and dance to your tunes if they wished to, and so when you stepped on stage, it was your duty to put up a memorable show that would be reminisced for a long time. Something that would give you good mileage on social media. The only artistes who seemed to really get this were the top dawgs: Sarkodie, Samini, and Stonebwoy.

King Sark called BS on the argument that you needed an Afrobeats song to make the audience rock with you. Samini reminded us he is still the Rain God, and Stonebowy… Aaabwoy! And Akosua Ayapong? There is nostalgia whenever she comes on stage.

A musician should be able to tailor his performance to the songs he is performing. He should be creative…remember how Shatta Wale entered the stage during the Ghana meets Naija? If you are into highlife and you can’t dance even if your haircut depends on it, the last thing you want to do is to pretend to be dancing. KiDi did a minimalist version of “Say you love me,” relying on the words more than the beats to serenade the public. Truth be said, dat guy start dey get chest paa oh!

And then there was King ‘the Camboo’ Promise: for all those deceived by the quality of voice on a recorded song, his performance on the night showed that it was not all technology. King Promise can actually sing; enobe fluke, chale!

Now, if Zylofon Media is really going to affect the music landscape, it would be worthwhile considering a proper auditorium for events such as this. The VGMA is supposed to be the biggest music festival in the calendar year. For this reason it deserves the best equipment and proper back-up singers. It deserves a proper band that will complement the performer on the night. It deserves room for folk who want to dance. There is just too much lip service to the troubles bedevilling the creative industry. Entertainment has the potential to rake in millions of dollars for the actors and for the government if only they would rectify some of these glaring issues. Radio is good. TV is fun. But it is at the shows that we get to see first-hand the dexterity of the artiste. It is on stage, and at concerts, that we can finally craft a project so good that it ropes in all the other facets of our creative industry.

At the risk of appearing carried away, I feel the VGMA could be more than a music night. It might be that I am just being petty. Nonetheless, I wished the whole experience could have entailed more than just music. I wish we had a music festival that would be championed by the tourism ministry because this is supposed to be the biggest music awards night on the calendar. I wish we had spoken word artistes. And artists. Comedians. Costumers. This festival yearly could be a chance to showcase what we have as a country to the world thanks to digital media, even if the biggest conversation right after the night will be surrounded by trolls and Patapaa’s Total Cheat. Gaddam!

And, for a year that was so heavy on highlife, for a year that took away some luminary highlife figures, I would have wished we had a show heavy on highlife. The biggest talents have been in that genre anyway. Bright Ackwerh could be there. Charterhouse are doing  an important job for our industry, and I wish them well. However, I feel they had and still have the platform to use music, the most vociferous art form, to champion other forms of the industries. Underdog performers could be given the limelight like Samini did with Deon Boakye. A short, humorous skit could have done twice what the hosts were supposed to be doing on the night. And we could have done with more goons and bikes for Kewsi Arthur; dat guy ein hairstyle check like Aristide Bancé. Google am!

It is frustrating talking about these things now, and I feel slightly guilty because this was probably one of the few editions of the awards where there were few qualms about the winners. King Promise deserved an award, but so did KiDi and Kuame and Joe Mettle. Going into their 20th anniversary, I wish Charterhouse will do more than reward the most popular artistes. I wish they would take the opportunity to celebrate the true essence of Ghanaian creativity. I pray it would be a chance to propel the other elements of our creative talents to stand tall with the music geniuses we have. Good luck to them.

And Eno, dat tin, like we for do am Queen of Kings. Dem take de tin brown you, but we no bore!

Dumelo was okay, just FYI.

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