This is the Part 2 of our ‘People of 2016’ List. Our aim was to identify and celebrate people who, in our estimation, made great strides in their respective fields and in the process created something important for themselves and society in 2016.
For many, the name DJ Juls began ringing a bell this year, following the successful musical story of Mr. Eazi. But, DJ Juls is no novice in the production game. Juls (Julian Nicco-Annan) has been producing records for a long time, mostly for Ghanaian artistes. He has been dropping some of the best beat tapes you’d hear around. 2016 however, became the year the stars aligned in DJ Juls’ favour. He not only masterminded some of the biggest hits by Mr. Eazi, he released some of the best infectious songs in 2016.With a production style that hinges on crate digging of old palm wine high life groves-which are then perfectly chopped and padded by present day musical influences of trap in minimalistic fashion- has become the signature sound of DJ Juls. With songs such as ‘Teef Teef’-which Beat1 radio jockey Julia Adenuga picked us her Summer Jam for 2016, to the Eugy, Malik Berry and Stonebwoy assisted ‘With You’ to his latest ‘Give You Love’ featuring L.A.X, Juls has not been sleeping. Together with his younger brother Jason, they are the brains behind the art focused Signature Magazine (the first issue is out online, which I got the pleasure of contributing to). With the current crowded musical/production scene dominated by trap music influences, creating a new sound and pushing it across this saturated market and finally getting recognized for it is not an easy feat. And that, is exactly what DJ Juls did in 2016.
THE HARMATTAN RAIN TEAM
HarmattanRain is a blog dedicated to everything that has art value-music, photography, fashion, videos. It is the blog to visit if you need to keep a thumb on what is new across the Ghanaian and Nigerian music market. With a dedicated team of young folks led by Benewaa (@stingg_) and a focus mostly skewed towards non-mainstream artistes, Harmattan Rain is doing their bit to ‘disrupt’ the blogging scene by serving its readers diverse content including interviews, reviews and features to a readership looking for a break from the usual news that dominate everyday blogs/websites. That, is the reason why HarmattanRain commands such admiration from some of the ‘coolest art/music geeks’ in town. Spend some time on their blog.
AYAT (THE ZAMANI)
Building a trusted brand is an arduous task. Once you figure it out, things become easy as all the chips fall in place. The pressure that comes with the new turf doesn’t break you. It rather serves as a wave to surf to a bigger wave. Rapper AYAT has figured it out and rode on it throughout 201. AYAT was an unknown artist in 2015. His song IDKY with producer KaySo commenced his steady rise. His performance at SabolaiRadio in 2015 was unconventional. Since then, AYAT has worked with most of the big name artists on the scene and top-notch producers like Kuvie, KaySo and Magnom. The colourful dreadlock sporting Madina rapper, added his hausa flavor to the now in-vogue trap beat. His energy on stage and on the mic; passion on tracks and exciting stagecraft has made him one of the few newcomers who, indeed stamped their name on the 2016 musical calendar. Singles might get you the buzz. Videos might get you seen. However, good performance on stage will get you remembered. The latter is what AYAT seems to have smartly mastered in this short period. Expect his debut EP Zamani in a few months.
For the many who have seen his works, winning the 2016 Kuenyehia Prize for contemporary arts was not very surprising. Bright Ackwerh has overtime become one of the foremost, if not the foremost artist of his generation. Through his brilliant, unapologetic caricaturing of global issues and leaders-politicians, musicians and everyone in between- he has become a chronicler of events. Lacing humour with serious issues-especially politics which most of his contemporaries shy away from- Bright is able to mock and educate in same breath. It is therefore, unsurprising to see people converge at his stand/stall whenever he put his works out. Bright has seen his works featured on the BBC and other media platforms. With his thumb on current events in the country and beyond and a knack for fine details, Bright Ackwerh did more for himself in 2016 and hopefully, 2017 would be an incredible year for him too.
A couple of days back, I saw Jerome Kuseh, the brain behind CediTalk.com ‘congratulating’ himself for writing and publishing 95 articles on his blog. An unbelievable number by all standards, knowing he has other competing demands. CediTalk.com is a financial blog with focus mainly on happenings in the Ghanaian financial markets/economy. Jerome has used the platform to inform his readers, in simplified form, some complex subjects on finance including a ‘financial’ illiterate as myself. Anytime, I need some education in the field of finance, it is the blog I visit for ‘further particulars’. One of the important things I need to say about Jerome is that, he never declines a request from his readers to share information on any financial matter(s). I have known him for a couple of years and I can vouch for his knowledge on financial issues (he is a finance person by training). Also, his knowledge on global politics is incredible. CediTalk.com might not be one of the blogs sharing links on your timelines often. However, their contents are priceless.