Each day, individuals and groups pursue dreams and interests that impact their own lives, those of others around them. Their actions, directly or indirectly help further society one step towards perfection. In this 4-part article, we are highlighting individuals and organizations whose initiatives, we feel deserve to be celebrated for what they achieved in 2016. This is our ‘People of 2016 List’
The year 2016 brought in its wake a lot of events; both positive and negative. We, in Ghana, had a very tensed yet peaceful elections were the incumbent government lost. A new president is in charge now. Same can’t be said of that narrow strip of land embedded in Senegal. The Gambia is still indulged in a political uncertainty. We also have DR Congo, where Prez. Kabila is refusing to leave the scene after exhausting his two 5 year terms. This was a man who was installed as president after the death of his father. Politics!
South Africa witnessed two tumultuous events. The Fees Must Fall movements was born and President Jacob ‘JZ’ Zuma survived various impeachment processes. Across the continent, we had Brexit, Trump defied all odds to become the 45th President of the Free World; albeit not going to be a free world for certain racial and gender groups in America (if he should live his campaign promises). The Syrian crisis worsened this year. The many refugees fleeing the conflict were blocked or became fodder for right wing politicians to peck at.
We lost people. There were terrorist attacks. Boko Haram continued with its carnage. We had planes crashing or disappearing. We lost many people including Mohammed Ali, Prince, David Bowie, Dasebre Dwamena. God keep their souls.
In 2016, we were blessed with music. Kanye dropped his tape. DJ Khaleed blew up. The Weeknd came of age. Chance The Rapper, Drake, Anderson.Paak, J.Cole, A Tribe Called Quest, Schoolboy Q all released projects. Here in Ghana, the likes of Sarkodie, Manifest, Shatta Wale, Stonebwouy kept the music machine running. We witnessed the rise of AYAT, AI, Teephlow, Medikal and yes, the FOKN BOIS gave us a Fokn Ode To Ghana album.
Whiles the musicians were putting out work, there were others, who were out there making major moves in different scenes-impacting lives and society. Their activities were geared towards creating a better future for us all. These individuals and groups deserve to be mentioned and applauded.
That’s exactly what this post is about. We are going to celebrate 20 individuals/groups who, in our opinion, made great strides in their individual fields, towards creating something of importance in 2016. In a two part series, we are going to make a list of our ‘People of 2016’. The list is in no particular order. And it is based on how impactful, inspiring and socially good their actions had been and continues to be.
So, here is the first part of the list.
TATAS JACKIE CHAN
Sharing the little you have with the needy is always a worthy gesture. It is heartwarming to know someone is dedicating time and resources in this regard. Caritas Aryee, also known as Tatas Jackie Chan, has for two years has been extending a helping hand to the vulnerable in society. Through her annual ‘Kenkey For The Needy’ initiative- an auction styled charity event- she raises money for the less fortunate. Although, this year’s event was the second, it was also the most patronized. The social media promotion got massive support and on the day, those who attended donated heartily by buying a plate of kenkey and fish. I do follow Tatas on twitter and have bumped into her a few times. I never suspected she had such a big and kind heart to put together such a worthy initiative. I need to also commend the many who came out to support the ‘Kenkey For The Needy’ event. In my view, this single gesture by Tatas is phenomenal. Tatas is indeed #ReppingTheNeedy.
AI (2 LIGIT)
An artist whose talent can’t be placed in a box is really an asset since one cannot predict what he is bound to do. That is what AI of 2Ligit music label is blessed with. For some, AI’s name might not register immediately despite emerging on the mainstream scene in 2014 off the back of his debut single ‘Anger Management’. People began paying closer attention in the last quarter of 2015 when his brilliant hook on JaySo’s ‘Making Tasha Proud’ captivated many. Together with DJ Vision, they gave us the biggest jam of the year 2016 in ‘Grind’ which has catapulted AI from a mere ‘unknown’ artist to the precipice of stardom. NOTE: 2Ligit has announced an upcoming EP of AI and already the first single ‘Paper’ has been released. The dexterity exhibited on that song, and many others is an attestation to his incredible talent. He has the ability to own songs he is featured on, thus leaving an impression on the listener- a quality akin to American artist Anderson.Paak. AI has the penchant of disappearing when the buzz is great-happened after release of ‘Anger Management’ and ‘Making Tasha Proud’. Now that the expectation is high and there’s demand for his songs, I hope AI would seize the wave and make himself the biggest act in the country in 2017 and beyond. A talent like his should not pop out once a year. It should be on public display and the only way to sustain interest is by, yes, dropping some more projects. Hope his team is listening.
Ignore the fact that he produced ‘Grind’, the hottest jam in 2016-and the hottest at the moment. Ignore that, his production on Joey B’s ‘U xMe’ is flawless. Ignore that, he masterminded ‘Awo’a’ and ‘AY3 Late’ for Pappy Kojo. But, don’t forget he produced Lady Jay’s banger ‘Venus’. Kuvie has been the quiet producer who is allowing his crafty, sometimes unconventional works to spread his name across the country and beyond. Whenever, the ‘Kuvie Made The Beat’ signature pops up on a track, you can be rest assured, it’s special. For what a talent Kuvie is on the production boards, one must listen to Lady Jay’s ‘Venus’ and EL’s ‘Agbadza’. On these two songs, he visited the very important ‘clap clap clap’ technique that embeds almost all traditional Ghanaian folk music, blending it with sneering 808 drums. Then, came the trap vibe to complete it amidst serious horns or strings. Unlike many of his contemporaries whose productions are easy to identify, Kuvie’s is hard to recognize without his signature. His production spectrum is huge-he can drop a good highlife beat with same pristine as a trap beat. Watching him do a live set at Beatphreak Live in February, 2016 turned me from a cursory looker/listener to a behind the veil stan. Kuvie’s talent is undisputable. The little he shared this year surely earns him a spot on this list. And without a doubt, a contender for this year’s VGMA Best Producer award.
JEMILA ABDULAI & CIRCUMSPECTE
Ms. Jemila Abdulai was one of the few people I followed on twitter when I joined the platform some years back. Then, I followed her blog/website Circumspecte. Over the years, both Jemila and her brainchild, Circumspecte have grown into brands. Jemila is a woman of many parts: blogger, career coach, feminist and social media expert. Circumspecte, on the other hand focuses mostly on career development, current affairs as well as entertainment. Adding entertainment to its bouquet gladdened my heart. Through the publication of some incredibly pieces, Hakeem Mansah, one for my favourite art writers, has over time kept readers, myself included, visiting the website. Hakeem’s penmanship is brilliant (he also writes on alternative music at @dandano_). One of the things I look forward to is Jemila’s educative twitter threads on many relevant social issues. As I told her some weeks back, she is one of the people who has impressed me overtime. Jemila’s passion for female empowerment, education and social justice coupled with her work at Circumspecte is absolutely important to her readers and relevant to the society.
VISION INSPIRED MUSIC
Five (5) artists; two EPs), one compilation album plus a host of singles from their artists. Throw in two well patronized concerts- which from indications would become an annual event- then you’d realize that, the VI Music guys really worked their souls out in 2016. Since breaking onto the scene in 2015, they have worked to elevate the first lady of the label, Adomaa from a cover singer to a Ghana Music Awards winning artist. In-between Adomaa’s release of her debut EP, ‘Afraba’ in January, 2016 to Akotowaa, a poet/spoken word artist recently released EP ‘Solitaire’, VI Music has put out songs from other artists: Reynolds, Robin-Huws, Tronomie and the FRA Band. Whiles Adomaa remains the face of the label, Tronomie, who happens to be her brother, is the secret weapon of the label. He has the potential to becoming the superstar on the label. They also released the VIM’Tape-a compilation EP around Christmas. One solid advantage, VI Music has is the fact that, their artists possess multiple talents; they are songwriters and producers. The label which is headed by Evans Kwami Kafui Offori is one huge family with the artists, as siblings who don’t only challenge each other but fill in where others fall short. For a label to have achieved what they have in this short space of time proves that, with the right vision (pun intended) and effort, it could grow into a force in the coming years.