There is an ongoing debate about the content of contemporary Ghanaian music and the verdict is that musicians of today lack talent and produce anything but good, decent music.
Being a lover of music and having followed various genre of music, both local and international, l feel compelled to share my thoughts.
Musical forms are culturally situated and vary inasmuch as human emotions defer. There is music for mourning, music for merry making, music to inform, educate, advice and motivate.
To lump all contemporary musicians as a bunch of profane singers is, therefore, simplistic. In fact, we have both in good measure.
Since time immemorial, both local and international musicians have produced all manner of songs, some outright profane with varied commercial success. Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing is a typical example.
Back home, some renowned musicians have played both sexually explicit and decent songs depending on their mood.
The legendary A.B. Crentsil gave us the sexually explicit, Soldier Lafia and also The Lord’s Prayer.
Nana Ampadu gave us Yeewe nsa a wose shirt, and the classic Obra.
Alex Konadu gave us A good one there and also Awie. All these show that musicians give us according to their mood, the time and season.
Does content determine success?
Ironically, the commercial success of music does not necessarily depend on the content.
Sometimes music without any meaningful lyrics make it to the top. Latin American hit, Macarena and Alhaji by Dj Seadof are examples.
Salif Keita’s Africa, talks about the delicious cuisines that can be found on the continent and yet became a banger.
So also is More Kante’s Yekeyeke.
Locally, Nana Nsia Piesie’s Police Abaa, Patapaa’s One corner and Eddie Khae’s Do the Dance, readily come to mind.
What is different now?
Like most creative things in life, music is dynamic.
The notion that music should be melancholic and themed on death, bad extended family, sickness and tribulations have passed and belong to history.
Similarly, music full of quotes such as Maame Mfanti who operates a chop bar at Agona Swedru says that “we should love each other”, are not trendy now.
So also is the practice of making a roll call of the instrumentalists to display their dexterity on their instruments. Modern music is mostly about positivity and entertainment.
What influences contemporary music?
Musical themes are influenced by time and life’s experiences.
For example during the 80s, most of our local songs were drawn from experiences of our compatriots sojourning in Europe and elsewhere.
People’s bitter experiences with landlords have also been the theme of some successful songs in Ghana.
Today, songs such as Free Mandela or Africa Unite will not resonate with most listeners.
Love songs sell at all times if well packaged. The thing about music is that talent, effort and resources put in will determine how successful it becomes.
Kojo Antwi’s Dadie Anoma and most of Osibisa’s songs as well as several others have defied time and remain good decades after their release.
Also, good music transcends barriers and ambitious artistes always target the global audience.
Freddy Meiway and Yussor Ndou’s songs are loved across the continent though we may not understand the lyrics.
As a nation, we are confronted with more serious issues.
Our roads are killing us like the plaque.
Our educational system is in shambles, our national security is wobbling, our children are being kidnapped in droves, our neighbours are taking over our economy and the Chinese are devastating our lands.
Have we sat down to reflect on what will happen to us if we encountered a quarter of what has happened in Mozambique?
We are fond of shifting the national conversation to the frivolous.
Not too long ago, it was about an imaginary American military base and how the West was going to make us a nation of gays.
The crust of the matter is that, we have a choice as to the type of music we listen to.
Taflatse (Excuse me to say) , music is not downloaded into an enema syringe and administered into our backsides.
If the music offends your definition of decency, tune out. So long as there is demand, there will be supply.