My heart aches a little when a veteran musician is moved to -as the social media generation would say- for either lack of tact in speech, action or for handing out an underwhelming performance. The response from social media users is usually swift, unapologetic, blatantly disrespectful and traumatizing. On social media, unfiltered opinions are an everyday meal. Becca, the Ghanaian singer would bear testimony to this after becoming a casualty this week.
On Monday, the singer released her latest single ”No One”. Featuring South African artiste Busiswa, “No One” takes its influence from gqom, an up-tempo South African music genre that carries elements of dance and house music.
What Becca and her team might have thought as a step to the next level in her career turned out to be one of her worst songs ever – according to opinions shared on twitter. The expected warm embrace, and a walk to her throne as deserving of a queen (she has always considered herself as such) was dashed as many called her out for: one, her lackluster performance and two, sampling portions of Sho Madjozi’s smash hit “John Cena”. (Sampling a song is not a crime unless you don’t clear it so the criticisms were absurd). For most part of the day, Becca became the butt of the joke online. To counter the criticism, she disabled the comment sections on her Instagram account.
How did Becca get here? How come her music does not resonate with fans anymore? What went wrong?
These are questions worth asking. The answer is not easy to find but one can postulate some hypothesis. Becca’s rise to fame came amidst controversial circumstances. She had quit “Mentor”, the TV music reality show organized by TV3 as a contestant in 2006 after the organizers run a HIV test without the consent of contestants. That decision endeared her to many. She would release ‘You Lied To Me’, an afro soul ballad after quitting the competition. The success of the song would cement her place within the music circuits.
Becca’s instant success was not only built on her talent or appeal. It was largely down to her management team which was headed by Kiki Banson, an astute music executive. He was deliberate in his positioning of Becca as a diva; the golden girl of Ghana music. Kiki Banson tried to build her into a world class celebrity; something he succeeded at albeit for a short period.
Under his management, Becca would release two albums and numerous collaborations with renowned African artistes like the iconic Hugh Masekela, Uhuru, M.I and Ice Prince. She even featured the legendary Yvonne Chaka Chaka in one of her videos where the South African legend crowned her as the ‘face of African music’. The marketing of Becca as the face of Ghana music inured greatly to her benefit. Whereas her contemporaries were trying to appeal to a youthful audience, Becca, though a youth, was marketed as a matured lady whose appeal resonated with the middle age section of society. Kiki Banson would go on to organize an annual event, “Girl Talk” with Becca as the headline act. ‘Girl Talk’ afforded her an opportunity to both engage her middle to upper-class women fans through music thus entrenching her brand.
Becca’s mystic would suffer a jolt when she parted ways with Kiki Banson and joined Zylofone Music. Her new management could not sustain the mystic that surrounded her. The higher bar that her previous management had carved for her could not be matched thus affecting her music and overall outlook. The matured lady brand also took a hit in her attempt at appealing to younger demography. That move registered as ‘corny’ in the eyes of many. Again, losing her slot as the headline act of ‘Girl Talk’ meant a disconnect with her fanbase. The music, which was her flame of sustenance was not burning with the ferocity it once did. Also, her position after the whole Menzgold debacle smacked was considered hypocritical by some. Her action pitted her against a section of people.
What Becca is missing as far in her career is [a] good songwriters) Comparing her earlier works on records like ‘You Lied To Me’ and ’Hey Ba’ (2006), ‘Forever’ (2010), ’Daa Ke Daa’ (2012), ‘No Away’ and ‘African Woman’ (2013), and even ‘Beshiwo’ and ’Hw3’ (2017) are well written, excellently composed songs which she impressively executed. Aside lacking songwriting skills, she also seem lost on which corner of the music spectrum she really wants to hang. Becca has moved from singing ballads to afropop to now doing everything else. Being a versatile artist is great. But versatility is not for everyone. That said, making vibe exuding records is great. However, an artiste who combines great songwriting with knowledge of the times (vibes) creates timeless works of art.
Every artiste has a signature style which defines them and make them standout on tracks with other artistes. For Becca, that is non-existent; an observation confirmed by Ekua Ntsifuaba of Boomplay Music Ghana. She usually co-opts the style and ‘voice’ of whoever she is on a record with instead of asserting her own true style as heard on ‘’No One’’, where she adopted Busiswa’s style. She did same on both ‘’Yes I Do’’ featuring Tiwa Savage and ‘’Move’’ with Uhuru.
Her 13 year stint in the music space where she enjoyed some of the best artiste development programmes many in this side of town would dream of should have equipped Becca with adequate knowledge to survive as an independent artiste. That seem not to be the case, considering her recent. ‘’No One’’ is not a bad record. What is bad about it is her abysmal performance on the record. Becca is not the most talented among her peers but has proven over the years that she could hold her own when she has the right team around her. Her recent releases pegged with her previous works clearly points to a gulf. Whatever it is, Becca needs to find that missing piece if she wants to pursue music as a career and not a hobby.