Original Content on Arts and Entertainment

KiDi Isn’t an over night success. His success has been a work in progress

He doesn’t have 30 billion in his account as he rightly indicated on his breakout single ‘Odo’. What KiDi (real name Dennis Nana Kwaku Boadi Dwamena) may have earned in return is deserved fame, huge recognition and showcase of his incredible talents as a singer and songwriter.

For the many who have followed the musical journey of KiDi, his talent hasn’t been in doubt. From performing covers of hit songs (mostly RnB/Soul) to recording original singles (often shared on his Soundcloud page), anyone who saw him knew his break into mainstream was ticking like a hand grenade. All he needed was a bigger platform to exhibit his abilities.

The opportunity came by way of popular music reality show, MTN Hitz Maker in 2015. During the almost two month musical show, KiDi, along with other competitors kept impressing the judges and viewers alike with their performances; all aiming to win fans’ support and votes. In the end, Kidi came up tops, voted as the winner of the contest.

In the absence of any credible music chart list, it is difficult to point out how well ‘Odo’ is doing on the charts. However, here’s a little illustration to prove the popularity of KiDi’s single. Out of the top 10 urban radio stations in Accra, ‘Odo’ gets played, at least twice a day across various programmes on these radio platforms. Though a conservative estimation, it couldn’t be farther from the facts. Also, KiDi has been a regular on the popular search list on my Apple Music (Ghanaian Store) since September. I’m pretty sure that counts.

The bright glow KiDi is currently basking under didn’t happen overnight.  Prior to competing in the MTN Hitz Maker contest, he was, like a man learning to perfect his swimming skills-splashing his arms and legs in the water (metaphorically speaking). His SoundCloud page revealed a singer who was honing his skills, preparing himself for his dream job: a successful artist.

Music has been a long-cherished ambition of KiDi as confirmed by his statement:

‘Music is how best I know how to express myself. I hope I do that well enough to get me the recognition and acceptance on the biggest musical stages the world has to offer. I hope to take music as far possible, the highest level’ – Source: Profileability

His win landed him a deal with Lynx Entertainment- also home to some of today’s young musical act such as MzVee and Kuami Eugene. With KiDi joining their ranks- which wasn’t surprising since Richie, the CEO/Producer at Lynx was his producer during the show-it was a matter of time before Ghanaians noticed him. If there’s anything Richie and Lynx know how to do best, it is helping artists find success. From 2009 to 2012, Lynx Entertainment was arguably running the music scene. Their artists- ASEM, Eazzy, Richie (himself), Ziggy- were churning out hits after hits.

Richie extended his music producing skills to other artists; helping them in forwarding or resuscitating their careers. That is, for artists- both new and old-seeking the biggest record in the country, Richie was the guy to turn to. It was even rumored that, some artists took their work from other producers for Richie to drop his ‘It’s a Hit Mayne’ tagline since that was enough to guarantee the artist a hit. 

That template, from which the first wave of artists on Lynx found success, is what the label is applying to this new crop of artists. KiDi, after his win, released a few singles meant largely as an introduction to Ghanaians than breakthrough releases. ‘Never Again’, ‘Drunk’ and ‘Bleed were steeped in R&B/Soul traditions. They made little impression on a few, mostly his fans.

However, there was a noticeable shift in both sound and style as typified by ‘Naadu’ (featuring label mate MzVee) ‘Awurama’  released in 2016. ‘Naadu’ and ‘Awurama’ for instance was very afro-pop in sound. KiDi abandoned his R&B/Soulful traits for a more upbeat, danceable music. Both songs edged him a step closer to the center of notice. The songs, especially ‘Naadu’ enjoyed airplay on some urban radio stations.

“Naadu’ is definitely one of his best songs.” – @SwayeKidd 

“I’d choose ‘Never Again (Ebe  Like Say)’ over Awurama anyday” – @MannyFBC

The second and third quarters of 2017 marked the birth of KiDi who moved from the rare view mirror to the centre of conversation. He earned himself a huge musical visibility. It began with the release of ‘Say You Love Me’; a catchy, danceable, mid-tempo love song that saw him asking his girl to confess her love to him. His singing was crisp and heartfelt. The relatability of the message coupled with his ability to blend pidgin and Twi meant an easy to sing along song. The success of ‘Say You Love Me’, mostly on radio gave KiDi and his team at Lynx the surety that, they can win more if they go by this pop-style tunes. Next single to come was ‘Odo’.

‘Odo’ is undoubtedly one of the biggest songs out this year. It’s brilliantly composed and produced by KiDi himself. It’s like a big cake adorned with many icing flavours. I’m not going to delve into what these ‘icings’ are. The good folks at Harmattan rain had done an excellent analysis of that. The attractiveness of ‘Odo’ rest in its composition (the melody). The song has an adorable Yaa Amponsah guitar riff that is strummed throughout the song.

For purposes of education, especially for non-Ghanaians, the Yaa Amposah guitar sound is pivotal in classic highlife music. It is similar to the electric guitar riffs in rock music or the traditional guitar riffs on country music. Letting that direct the rhythm of ‘Odo’ was to indigenize the song and enthrall listeners.

The opening lyric was deliberately done; to stir attention his way. By flipping the Davido line ’30 billion for the account’ on ‘If’ to ‘I no get 30 Billion for my account’ and proceeding ahead with ‘but I got so much love to give you’, perked the ears of the listener, thereby drawing attention to himself. By virtue of the proceeding lyric, he put himself out as an ordinary, average ‘Joe’ who is being truthful about himself and his love.

For a section of KiDi fans, his success notwithstanding, consider him as a sell-out courtesy his quest to chase commercial acceptability. Although the success of ‘Odo’ resulted in Davido and Mayorkun adding verses on a forgettable remix, some feel he’s sacrificing his authenticity for popularity. Truth be told, I wasn’t sold on ‘Odo’ when I first heard simply because it felt like a forced creation; a piece of collage- the song feels like something produced to fit into the Afropop wave thereby lacking a certain authenticity. The many interpolations on the song is evidence to support my claim. This fear is what some of his fans harbor. The quest to be accepted as a mainstream artist would lead to him losing the very quality that endeared them to him in the first place.

For KiDi and some of his fans, this new found fame is what he has been chasing from the onset. His talent needed to be seen by all; and if it would take him reclining from his authenticity, so be it. After all, each artist has a plan to unlock the mainstream door. And being signed to a label like Lynxx Entertainment means one thing: You are groomed for pop stardom.

It’s incredible to hold on to your authenticity. It is great to keep serving your fans what they know you for. But again, a measure of an artist’s growth is the ability to step into new frontiers without necessarily leaving behind what makes them authentic.

KiDi is currently enjoying both fame and success. How he strikes a balance between his new musical indulgences and his old, left-field tendencies would be an interesting act worth watching carefully.

As rapper EL once opined: sometimes you need to sell-out to become a sell-out hold true in this case.

All photos used is sourced from KiDi’s IG page


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