THE COMING OF AGE OF DANCEHALL MUSIC IN GHANA
The dance hall artistes of the early 90s will be smiling at the strong showing the genre is making on the Ghanaian music scene today. Likewise, followers and lovers will be astounded at the growth of dance hall in less than 2 decades since appearing on the music scene.
Today, dance hall artistes enjoy massive airplay thanks to the legion of talented artistes who continue to give Ghanaian audiences something to be proud of. Ghanaians are now awake to the new vibe that is getting them overly hyper and out of control whenever such songs hit the radio. No radio dj/presenter could play exhaust his playlist without playing dance hall music. Likewise, no outdoor event goes on minus some dance hall tracks.
So what has accounted for the rise of dancehall music in Ghana? I will identify two reasons: First, there is a whole bunch of talents who are helping the genre bask in its golden glow. Artistes such as Samini, Stonebwoy, Shatta Wale,Mugeez, Jupiter, Kaakie, Iwan, MzVee, Episode, AK Songstress among others are churning out amazing songs that can’t be overlooked.
Second reason could be the desire for a different sound aside hip life. Globally, dancehall music has grown into a worldwide alternative sound thanks to the likes of Beenie Man, Sean Paul, Vybz Kartel and Movado. This Caribbean sound has been embraced by a global audience including Ghanaians. Its introduction has rivaled hip life which has enjoyed a monopoly for a long time. People naturally become fed up with a particular brand of style and normally make a switch for something new which would offer them a better kick than what they are used it.
In addition to this is the abilitiy of these artistes to localize the genre by infusing the songs with Ghanaian elements in their lyrics. The style and rhythmn may be dancehall, the language may be truly Ghanaian which makes listeners identify with as .ours’.
The evolution of dancehall in Ghana has been a long draw. One of the incidents that inspired some young artistes to turn to dancehall happened in 1994, when as part of the PANAFEST celebrations, then dancehall god, Shabba Ranks came to perform in Ghana. It was around the time Shabba Ranks’ ‘Mr. Lover Man’ was enjoying massive global success. And for him to come to Ghana was a big thing. Also, there was CJ Lewis whose style appealed to many.
Shabba Ranks’ coming opened the flood gate for many amateur dancehall acts to go professionals with the likes of Mr. Roots I releasing his hit song Sweetie Sweetie. We also had General Marcus. Pricky Yardie came out with Obaa Fefe.
Years later, Yoggi Doggi came to own the dancehall turf. Yoggi Doggi’s smooth yet deep voice made him a constant feature on a lot of hip life hits in the early millennium.
Yoggi Doggi’s monopolistic tenure was broken by a young Dansoman (DC) based raga head, Samini. The rivalry between this two whipped up interests in the genre in 2003. However, Yoggi Doggi fizzled out off the scene leaving Samini as the only dancehall king till Shatta Wale’s ballistic entry onto the scene, resulting in the resuscitation of interest in the genre.
With the current exposure dancehall is receiving, it is incumbent on the artistes and stakeholders to safeguard its survival by churning out good songs if they want to see the genre achieve the same status as hiplife has. The Ghanaian music fans need variety and surely will patronize anything that offers them that provided it is of good quality.
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