2015 was not short of music. Wherever one turned, you heard new music from both established and up-coming artistes. Whiles some of the songs that ultimately became the soundtrack to our lives were made hits via mainstream radio (which usually is the case with A-rated artistes), some broke through courtesy the underground channel, forcing mainstream to give them their deserved props.
Artistes such as Stonebwoy, who blazed the trail in 2014, culminating in his crowning as the Best Artiste in Ghana circa 2014, Sarkodie, R2Bees, EL and Shatta Wale continued dominating the scene.
Bisa K’Dei, MzVee and yes, Gasmilla ensured they kept the music cauldron ever flavourized. Later in the year, the likes of Wisa and Atom broke ranks with the underground circuits and achieved success in the mainstream.
In this two part article, I’ve put a list of artistes who ruled 2015. The list considers the impact their music made (how far reaching it was), shows they played (major events) and most importantly, how their brand has shot up (becoming household names).
Here’s the list in no other of priority.
STONEBWOY: 2015 belonged to Stonebwoy without a doubt. The year started with him picking up-deservedly so- the coveted Artiste of the Year Award at the 14th Edition of the Vodafone sponsored Ghana Music Awards. After that came the biggest in his career thus far, the BET International Award, which he surprisingly won-he beat off competition from countrymen Sarkodie, Fuse ODG and Wizkid (Nigeria), AKA (South Africa) and Mafikizolo (South Africa).
The BHIM Nation boss, landed yet another award at the Africa Muzik Magazine Awards 2015 in the Reggae, Ragga and Dancehall category.
These accolades did spur Stonebwoy on to bigger things. He released songs that took over the country and beyond. He remixed his hit song Pull Up with Nigeria’s Patoranking. He gave us the one-to-the-haters theme song Baafira. He unleashed on us Go Higher. The reggae tinged Run Go, a politico-consciousness tune took over radio. And when we all thought 2015 had had enough of Stonebwouy, Mightyley began to gradually peak towards anthem status.
From the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards to Tigo Music Festivals, MTN Carols and the Citi FM’s December 2 Remember, Stonebwoy proved that he is not only a musician but a real performer; your quintessential artiste. Out of the sorrow of his mother’s passing came an unrestrained strength that powered Stonebwouy to the heights we witnessed in 2015.
And for my money, he is in pole position to win for the second time, the Vodafone Artistes of the Year in 2016.
GASMILA: Gasmilla will look at 2015 as the year Ghanaians embraced him fully as the artiste he wished to be despite being in the musical trenches for a while now. His previous songs- Abodan Tuei and 3 Points were hits in their own rights but Telemo brought him that celebrity credentials. To put in another way, if Gasmilla was in the galamsey trenches in search of precious stones, Telemo handed him a bigger gold concession to scavenge.
The humour spluttered Telemo with its very poignant watch- before- you-leap advice, saw Gasmilla hand the country an anthem. The song gave him the exposure he deserved (or craved for) and he used it to good use by spearheading sanitation campaigns within the section of city he represented.
The International Fisherman was seen on various musical platforms keeping the party alive and people excited. He was the Vodafone ambassador for their Xmas promotion. If there was a song that called all the folks-kids, adults, old folks- to the dance floor to gyrate and two-step, it was Telemo. If Telemo doesn’t win the Most Popular Song at the 2016 VGMA, somebody would have to explain WHY.
BISA K’DEI: Since bursting on the scene few years ago, Bisa K’Dei has seized every opportunity to stay in the limelight. From making pensive music to guest featuring on songs or producing and ghost writing for others, he has been working.
With the release of two of his biggest hits till date-Mansa and Brother Brother– Bisa K’Dei proved he can also make party songs. Mansa is everybody’s delight thanks to its golden highlife beats beautiful tied by Kaywa. It is the kind of song that calls you to move even if you don’t want to.
Brother Brother has a nostalgic ring to it, some early 70s highlife vibe. Bisa K’Dei succeeded in putting the 70s into modern times. Anytime I hear it, I feel the presence of legendary highlife king Nana Ampadu on it (I’m not that old people). A remix with Nana won’t be a bad idea.
SHATTA WALE: Controversy hit the camp of Shatta Wale in the third quarter of 2015 when his former manager, Bull Dogg, parted ways with him. What followed next was typical Shatta on a verbal tirade against his former manager under the guise of ‘setting records straight’.
Notwithstanding the discussions surrounding the breakup, Shatta Wale kept the heat up, releasing records and performing at shows and appearing on TV shows. It is said that he released over 100 songs in 2015. Out of the lot, two broke out as hits- Hold It and the ‘end-of year’, ear wrecking anthem Kakai.
One can’t really point to how the ‘Energy God’, Shatta Wale does it but it seems when the song hits you, its hard to get it out of our head.
On performances, Shatta played on some big events and who would forget his stripping down to his white boxers whiles on stage at the Accra International Conference Centre.
SARKODIE: The power of Sark is ever present and by all indications isn’t fading anytime soon. He continued blessing the music scene with guest features and remixes, showcasing his virtuosic skills. From adding a verse to Wizkid’s global hit Ojuelegba (before Drake & Skepta) to being unapologetically suggestive on Wisa’s Ekiki Me remix or wearing the apron of a social commentator (Dumsor, Inflation ( Economy) to a peer advisor on Hand To Mouth, Sarkodie kept himself in the music conversation.
He released his third album, Mary-a live recorded rap album with a highlife influence with singer and songwriter Akwaboah played a major part in its creation. Compared to his previous albums, the reception of Mary has fallen short although I think the album is rich and brilliant.
Apart from the lead single Mewu, none of the songs received major airplay though the album tour was successful.
On performances, Sark made history this year by performing at the famous Apollo Theatre in New York with friends. He toured parts of Europe and in December, 2015 staged the 2nd edition of the Rapperholic Concert, filling the AICC to rafters. Sark made sure his name was still in the music conversation.