Vision In Progress (VIP) now VVIP are the real vampires of Ghana music. They never seem to fade or lose their spark. At each turn when an incident seem to spell their doom, they emerge stronger, passionate and hungry, taking big strides to reclaim their spots within the progressively competitive music space.
The music group, since it first emerged on the music in the year 1997 have outlasted many hiplife groups and artistes. Whiles other groups which also emerged around the same time as them -or earlier- such as Akyeame, Buk Bak, SASS Squad, Lifeline Family, G-Life had all disbanded, (V)VIP is still staying relevant. Sixteen years down the line, they are still creating and making music that is winning awards-their Skolom song won the Best Song by a Group at the 2016 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards.
The evolution of the music group, from their days as VIP to VVIP is well documented. From the hoods of Nima arose five young individual rappers who decided to form a group after realizing they each dominate freestyle sessions in their hood. So, in 1998, the group made up of Friction, Promzy, Lazzy (now Zeal), Prodigal, Bone released their debut album Bibi Baa O (Something Is Coming) with the lead single Rana Sallah becoming an instant hit across the country. What propelled the song to the heights it chalked is underpinned by two reasons: 1) the song was entirely done in Hausa language and released to coincide with the Moslem festival of Sallah Mubarak-Nima is a Moslem populated area and 2) the beat, a sample of DMX’s global hit ‘Ruff Ryders Anthem’ was already known in Ghana. These two reasons combined well to sell VIP to a wider audience.
The group released their second successful album Ye De Aba (We’ve Brought It) in 2000. The success of the album however, could not convince Friction, the leader of the group to stay. He left the group to pursue a solo career. Another member, Bone also exited the group. Only three remained. And in 2001, they released their third studio album Lumbe Lumbe Lumbe which boasted the chart topper Daben Na Odo Beba (When Is My Love Coming?)
VIP saw a new surge in popularity and dominated the hiplife music turf in 2003, following the release of their most successful album till date Ahomka Wo Mu, under a new management led by Goodies. For 20 weeks, Ahomka Wo Mu, the lead single topped Joy FM’s Weekend Charts Show. The classic album Ahomka Wo Mu not only won them 5 awards including the coveted Artiste of the Year Award at the 2004 Ghana Music Awards, it also made them the first hiplife group to have a crossover success in Nigeria, a market many Ghanaian artistes had tried to break into for a while.
Unfortunately, their manager Goodies (Isaac Abeiku Aidoo) was arrested in 2008, and convicted of drug related offences leading to a jail term of 13 years, another unfortunate incident which many thought would break the group or at least see them lose their musical lustre. Like the proverbial phoenix, VIP rose above it and continued their good run of fortune.
In 2015, the lead rapper of VIP, Promzy left the group under some bizarre circumstances. In an article titled End of An Era, I predicted that the good run of VIP might just come to an end with Promzy, who was regarded as the power propeller of the group now gone (read article End Of An Era For VIP! http://thechronicle.com.gh/end-of-an-era-for-vip/). I was to be proven wrong when out of nowhere, veteran rapper Reggie Rockstone joined the two-man group. He joining of the group also led to a name change-from VIP to VVIP.
However, the name change and the structure of the group brought with it a very subtle yet interesting revelation. For anyone who has paid attention to the group’s progress since their early days in 2000, there has been a switch from the group’s quest for a balance between good lyrics and good or memorable hooks. The new group, VVIP, I observed, following the release of a couple of songs that, they have traded their love for lyrics for catchy hooks and swingy grooves.
Take the musical trajectory of VIP and the content of their music from 2000 and you would find confirmation. The music of VIP back then, was driven more by the lyrical deliveries of Friction. After his exit, Promzy took the mantle and continued filling their songs with good lyrics as well. The new VVIP hardly do that anymore and it’s evident on the songs they have released. Both their songs Skolom, Book of Hiplife, OMG, Dogo Yaro is beats and hook driven.
This observation was confirmed by Reggie Rockstone in an interview with Department of Sound, a podcast hosted by Mutombo Da Poet. In that interview, Reggie Rockstone explained what VVIP is all about when it came to music:
‘I’m in a group called VVIP where they don’t really pay too much attention to lyrics. They are about easy, get your momma to sing along chorus line, the beats swinging and its cool. I do my 16 bars (less than 16 actually) and then Prodigal do his 16 and we are out of here in your living room’. (Listen to interview below)
The above statement by Reggie Rockstone perhaps explains why (V) VIP has remained on the hip life scene all these years: their ability to switch with the trend of the day seamlessly. At each stage of their run, (V)VIP has been flexible to blend with the trend. When it was all hip hop-banging beats in the 2000s, they went with the flow.
When hip life decided to get caught in Jay Qs jama template, they managed to belong in there –Ahomka Wo Mu. When Richie brought crunk to hiplife, VIP made themselves part of the conversation with ‘I Think I Like Am’. Now, in the era of ‘easy, get your momma to sing along chorus lines’ and swinging beats, they are part of the story.
VVIP obviously are milking this new vibe and they are enjoying it. What is lyrics anyway when a catchy hook and good beat is enough to get the party going?