Blog February 18, 2015
Field Report: In Accra, Ghana, Five Pop Songs That Won't Quit
Our producer Morgan Greenstreet just spent a few months traveling through Ghana, Togo and Benin. For the edification of our hips and ears, he has selected five songs that are currently extremely popular in Accra, Ghana, and beyond. They are not necessarily the newest, but they are the some of the truest. They are the songs that can be heard everywhere, anytime in Accra, Ghana--blasting from sound systems, inside a tro-tro communal bus, or even at a funeral wake-keeping. Sarkodie is one of the undisputed kings of Afrobeats/azonto/hiplife/whatever you want to call it. His music can be heard everywhere, all the time. I had the chance to see Sarkodie perform in Accra on Dec. 15 at the BBNZ Live Afrobeats show at Accra Independence Square. Sark followed Lauryn Hill, coming onstage at 3:30 a.m., to "Illuminati," in gold chains and sunglasses. People came running from every direction, suddenly wide awake, singing along to his lightning raps, smiling and laughing. This song, "Adonaï," features Castro, a very popular singer who disappeared this past July in a jet-ski accident at Ada, on the Ghanaian coast. There are many rumors in Ghana that Castro is still alive, or that he was murdered as a ritual sacrifice. Castro's disappearance and probable death have certainly increased his mystique, and the popularity of this song. Another huge song in Ghana right now, "Baafira," from dancehall artist Stonebwoy, also features Sarkodie. Although Shatta Wale is a bigger star than Stonebwoy in the hardcore dancehall scene in Accra, Stonebwoy has more crossover appeal because of the catchiness of songs like this: Although Ghanaians love local pop music, especially gospel-highlife sung in Twi, Nigerian pop music is still completely winning for creativity and excellent songwriting. Davido's "Aye," a gorgeous 6/8 love song with some delectable bass work, is a fine, fine example. Please enjoy responsibly: Another good example of long-lasting hits outta Naija: Kcee featuring Wizkid, "Pullover," with some lovely bass work and tongue-twisting wordplay: "Baby your pullover/show me your particulars, baby pull over." Also from Nigeria, from the lady Yemi Alade, a formal complaint against a lover, in the form of a totally grooving story-song, "Johnny."