If – like me – you find mainstream Ghanaian music a little too limited in scope, then you may want to explore music from elsewhere on the continent (and by that, I mean beyond Naija. Haba).
Izekor Akhimien – the man who taught me to DJ – has started Shakara: a website dedicated to new music from all over Africa and – interestingly – from its Afropolitan children too. Zek and I used to DJ a night in London by the same name and I’m really proud of how he’s expanded the brand into an online musical hub for all things young, fresh and African.
Besides looking beautiful (homeboy pays a lot of attention to picture quality…), it is genuinely useful: a one-stop shop where you can keep yourself informed of what is hot elsewhere and buy it. If you don’t have cash though, don’t worry: Zek keeps the site up to date with fresh and free mixtapes from all over the continent.
There are other websites dedicated to African music (like the great Museke) but what really sets Shakara apart is music from Africans in the diaspora as well. Many such acts (e.g. TY, Netsayi, Jaqee…) make beautiful music but are ridiculously unsung here. I hope Shakara bridges the gap between them and potential African listeners, as well as between African acts and listeners in the Diaspora.
I recently complained on Facebook that commercial radio in Ghana lacks the balls to really push new forms of music, as a result of which our music scene is somewhat stagnant and the average Ghanaian’s musical palate very thin.
However, when Ghanaians ARE introduced to new sounds we do embrace them. We love to stay fresh and up-to-date (for better or for worse). A perfect example of this is the infiltration of UK Funky House into the mainstream after Donae’o’s ‘Party Hard’ blew up here. A new hit, ‘Miss Doctor’ (by poster boys for lack of imagination, 4×4…) sounds suspiciously influenced by Donae’o’s sound and I have a feeling it won’t be the last example of this.
The problem is commercial radio, which is so conservative here that it will usually only play a song AFTER it has become a hit by other means. Or – in some cases – only if the song has been paid for.
Payola is a ******* problem here.
I attended (& DJed at) a Talk Party on Friday. Organized by the man known to many simply as Mantse, this was the second such talk party and up for discussion was the nature of alternative music coming out of Ghana and how to promote it, whether by pushing it into the mainstream or by circumventing it altogether. It was all very interesting – loads of great ideas – and I think it deserves a full blog post.
Watch this space.