#D2R2014 – Discovering a lost art

Stonebwoy, an international artist in the making who still has his street cred intact
Stonebwoy, an international artiste in the making who still has his street cred intact

“We will kill the show God willing”.

It was, for me, the usual chatter from an artiste manager looking to wriggle his way out of promotional interviews and appearances in the build up to a music concert. I was not happy. As an event organizer, I expected some more discipline from him.

When his artiste took to the stage on December 24 at the Accra International Conference Centre however, i understood the confidence behind the pronouncement.

According to Citi FM’s Bernard Avle, Stonebwoy’s “voice is so rich. Wow”. Renowned blogger Ameyaw Debrah described the performance thus: “another artist and performer who hardly disappoints.” TV3’s Juliet Bawuah was instructive when she hinted, “Shata Wale in trouble.. Stonebwoy just raised the bar ooo…” The smileys that concluded her tweet spoke not just to the delight she felt, but also the sentiment of the hundreds of people in the auditorium who had paid top cedi for a night of music entertainment.

Stonebwoy was a king, and he ruled his subjects at Citi FM’s Decemba 2 Rememba concert with an iron fist of great music, a commanding stage presence and the appeal of an international artiste. He was simply brilliant. From his control of the microphone to his on-stage presence and demeanour, the 26-year old dancehall, reggae and afropop artiste showed glimpses of an international artiste birthed.

Stonebwoy gave patrons the belief that great music was still existent on the shores this West African country. Radio presenter Anny Osabutey described him as not only “talented, but gifted” while entrepreneur Tonyi Senayah preoccupied himself with the disbelief at how the ladies were “screaming after every line”. Tonyi clarified in a Facebook post later that he was speaking from the little knowledge he had as a shoemaker.

The average music fan will however, not be surprised about the reception the artiste received. Stonebwoy has over the years bided his time and developed a fan base that cuts across class and income level. He launched the campaign to be inducted into the choppy waters of ‘high profile celebrity status’ some years ago; on Christmas morning, he ushered himself in without a formal invitation.

Self proclaimed King of the Streets, Shatta Wale
Self proclaimed King of the Streets, Shatta Wale

That exclusive club however, had the status one of its members questioned when Shatta Wale completed his performance. His status was not questioned because he did not have stage presence. It was not questioned because he did not get the crowd on its feet for over 45 minutes. It was not questioned because the crowd stopped singing his songs.

No. It was questioned because for an artiste of his stature to mime for over 30 minutes and have ‘awesome intro’ as the most significant selling point of his entire act, is sad.

Then again, maybe he was performing to a wrong crowd.

However, wrong crowd or not, the self-proclaimed ‘Dancehall King in the whole of Ghana’ must get his act together and move beyond prancing around on the stage and offering the public a chance to have their voice heard through his microphone.

On the subject of microphones, and in the spirit of the microphone rating system instituted by ‘The Source’ magazine, comedian DKB deserves all four and a half of five mics.

What a discovery.

DKB, Ghanaian comedian reborn
DKB, Ghanaian comedian reborn

The Ghanaian stand-up comic, born Derrick Kobina Bonney won over a few more hundred new fans when he combined calm and measured delivery with ruthless and frank punch lines in a performance worth remembering. The former Big Bother Africa housemate slapped his audience to life in a performance that justified his campaign for Ghanaians to appreciate local comedy acts. The fact that he was aware of the need for his material to be relevant to the audience in the auditorium, the fact that he did not overstay his welcome and the fact that he was unperturbed by the baggage of his past ‘sins’, was commendable. It is not every day a man slaps a woman on international television and still manages to survive the negative press it comes with.

However, if anyone deserves the love of the press, it must surely be Kontihene.

His demands before mounting the stage were simple. ‘No lights when I come in. I will perform under dimmed lights’. Yet, there was nothing dimmed about his delivery and appeal to music lovers. A truly refreshing ‘blast from the past’, the ‘aasese’ hit maker showed the way to stay relevant in Ghana music for decades. Music show presenter DJ Armani for example indicated in a conversation, ‘this man means business. He comes in, does what he should and walks away.’ For artistes looking to discover and exploit their shine, Kontihene’s desk is waiting for your application.

Guru did not send the application. He should have.

Guru, an artiste who needs some pointers to send him through the roof into stardom
Guru, an artiste who needs some pointers to send him through the roof into stardom

The hiplife star has dozens of singles. Yet in his choice of songs to perform on the night, he chose wrong. He decided to highlight to his lyrical dexterity over a memorable on-stage performance. His introductory act was captivating. He failed to capitalize on that initial high. He rolled out tune after tune that were lyrics-heavy and unfamiliar to the audience. He lost his crowd. He wanted to run through the entire length of his songs and it was clear the crowd was not having it. Patrons took to twitter to complain; and they were vocal about it. Kwame Gyan of telecommunications company Airtel for example noted, ‘Guru looks lonely on stage ooo.’

If Guru had dancers on stage and was still lonely, then M.anifest should not have made an appearance at all. The multiple award-winning artiste received a lukewarm reception in the opening stages of his performance. This was partly because of the tempo of the music he produces. Yet, he managed to get the audience on his side. He often paused and talked to his audience, he spoke directly to them, felt their pulse, went with the energy in the room and even created some of his own. That is a performer. That is why he has toured over 8 countries in the last 8 months. That is why he will continue to make more money than most of his colleague musicians; because he is a performer.

M.anifest. Enough said
M.anifest. Enough said

#D2R2014 taught us many things.

It taught us about the gemstones in the Ghanaian music industry. It taught us about the need to invest in one’s craft. It taught us to appreciate our own. Most of all, I believe Citi FM’s Decemba 2 Rememba concert helped us discover the value of real entertainment.

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