When the 90’s ushered us into the era of Hiplife , Kumasi became its beacon. Oseikrom was massively behind Hiplife’s success. I still remember the days when musicians, producers, sound engineers constantly said: “if your song is accepted by Kumasi, then it has been accepted by the whole nation”. Kumasi was the kingmakers in dictating which musician worn an award. I still remember those times when Hiplife musicians used to launch their albums in Kumasi. That is certainly not the case today. For instance, it was surprising to know that Praye’s “Angelina” was really popular in Accra weeks before people in Kumasi even recognized. Some few weeks ago, majority of people in Kumasi did not even know who Sarkodie was.
One major reason it appears that Hiplife in Kumasi is dying is the sudden disappearance and dormancy of our rappers in recent years. Recall those days when Swanzy “B”, Lord Kenya, Joe Frazier, Aberewa Nana, Kwadee were very consistent and wowed the nation every time they dropped a track. Actually most of them are rarely seen or heard in the spotlight these days. The last time I saw Swanzy in Kumasi, he was struggling to make ends meet. Even though Lord Kenya released an album last year (GOD DEY, which was a bang), we have heard little of him in recent years. We have missed his great stage performances of late. He was the hottest thing on the planet in the early 2000’s. Little was heard of Abrewa Nana after “Esisi Me So”. Kwadee is also recovering and getting back to the music scene after alleged reports of drug usage and addiction.
One reason for the seemingly dying Hiplife culture of Kumasi is the fact that most music producers, sound engineers and other experts in the business are all located in Accra. So the odds of an artiste moving to or succeeding in Accra are greater than his companion in Kumasi. All the big music shows that bring revenue to musicians are also held in Accra. And so most of the time, when stars are discovered in Kumasi, they decide to move to Accra- this is clearly seen in the case of Kwadee who decided to move to Accra when he became a star. I also blame some Kumasi DJ’s and FM Stations; they do not promote Kumasi Artistes. Accra songs are played about 95% of the time which is killing our industry. I heap lots of praises on Adom Fm’s finest presenter, Dr. Duncan who has really fought to bring out underground rappers on his show; “Kasahare Level”. He was the one who helped bring out Sarkodie, Yaa Pono and others to the outside world. You do not see some Fm stations in Kumasi doing this. Nevertheless, some Djs in Kumasi are doing their rightful jobs. DJs like DJ Row, Dj Shekels (all of Kessben FM) and Andy Dosty of Angel FM have actually given a lot of airplay to rappers like Lazzy Dog, Bradez and others.
Also, the hiplife industry in Kumasi is facing huge competition against the Gospel movement which has most of its producers in the city. There is no question that gospel music is hugely preferred and patronized over hiplife.
Is all hope lost for the Garden City? Of course not. Okyeame Kwame’s success at the GMA’s reiterates the fact that Oseikrom’s hiplife is still very strong. In 2008 and 2009, we are seeing very strong rappers emerging from Kumasi. With the likes the rap doctor (okyeame kwame), Kwadee, Lord Kenya who are all uplifting their career and new ones like Okyeame Kwame’s Bradez (Kunta Kinte and Stone; by the way they were my seniors at Prempeh College), Andy Dosty, Lazzy Dog, Kapusta, Lazio G and Andy of Mentor fame, these heavyweights can uplift our industry and surpass the Accra boys.