When it comes to music, the Upper East Region music industry is not to be underestimated. The region can boast of Okomfo Kwadee, King Ayinsoba, Atambila, Atongo Zimba just to mention a few whom I often choose to refer to as pathfinders who have put the Upper East Region in the limelight and inspired many new acts in the region. The wave of musical explosion that is raging through the North has taken music in the Upper East Region to a whole new level. Talk of beefs between rappers and singers, competition among musicians, collaborations and all the ingredients that makes a music industry vibrant. In this piece, I introduce to you-in no particular order-the trail blazers of music in the Upper East Region.
Emp Sarauta has been in the game for quite some time now. He has massive collaborations with artistes like Iwan, Fancy Gadam and Maccasio. He went head to head with top Northern artistes like Dobble Tee, Don Sigli, Maccasio and Raphius for the most prestigious overall best artiste in this year’s Northern Entertainment Awards. His banger ‘Pedrop the Zeni’ was also nominated for the most popular song (U.E.R) category. He, however, emerged the NEA Artist of the year U.E.R in 2017. If you have never seen him perform, then you may want to be at his SunBach 3 concert slated for the 3rd of September, 2017 at the Soul Train Night Club, Bolgatanga. It promises to be a night of fireworks.
Tumanneh Gele Su, BBT boss has been a trendsetter when it comes to music in the Upper East Region. He has a successful career in music spanning decades. His Kimakinna concert held last year re-enforces why he is an artiste to reckon with when it comes to music in the region. His unique style which combines creativity, passion, Gurune and English to produce what one may call fra-pop will make you admire his style of music. Soorebia bagged several nominations at the maiden edition of the Northern Entertainment Awards including the Overall Artist of the Year, Artist of the Year Upper East, Overall Most Popular song of the year, Most Popular song of the Year Upper East and Best Collaboration of the Year. Sunsure, Krifei, Primus (which he collaborated with Ayillah on), Disrespect, Listen Up, Party which he worked on with Leety are but a few of his songs you may want to add to your playlist.
Stevo Atambire can be described as one of the artistes who still projects the indigenous kologo music that was made popular by the likes of Atongo Zimba and King Ayisoba. His style of music which uses a blend of Ghanaian pidgin English and Frafra while employing the use of the kologo (local guitar) and calabash resounds with a majority of the youth and the older generation in the Upper East Region because of its great lyrical content. His latest album Teach Me which was recently launched is a compilation of 19 soul-moving tracks which features top-notch artistes like Medikal, Wanlov the Kubolor, YaaPono and Gyedu Blay Ambolley. He was one of the guest artistes at the show at Alliance Francaise, in Accra, in honour of the legendary Fela Kuti. This artiste has beyond doubt projected the Upper East Region to the world. Check out his new album, Teach Me, and let us know what you think.
By far the most vibrant group, RockCity Empire goes by other names such as Typical Bongo Boys and Sagle Beat La. This group of young, talented, energetic and intelligent guys who started their brand of music from Bongo (which explains why they go by the name Rockcity) where they hail from have been on a mission to change the world through music. The group is made up of Leflex, Teers, Mr. Kurt aka KasinMoliga and Joe Millz. They have headlined several shows within the Upper East Region including the Republic Day concert, the Sallah Fest concert among others. Their lyrical dexterity which is usually laced with wit and humour is such a joy to listen to. They are about one of the dopest groups in Upper East music as they plan to take over the region with their musical skills. Among some of their hit songs are Sagle, Backpass, Bunlaand the latest trending song titled Beer which you may want to check out. They were nominated in several categories for the maiden edition of the Upper East Music Awards (UEMA).
The artiste who hails from Yorogo in the Upper East Region is breaking grounds with his very composed style of rap. He has not less than 30 songs to his credit and an album which was released in October, 2016. Don Max aka Tila Kou has a considerable number of hit songs to his credit. Mostly a blend of Frafra and English, some of his songs include Alanta, It’s alright, On Top and Shun Am. He was billed for this year’s special performance at the Northern Entertainment Awards. Aside that, he earned nominations in the Artiste of the Year category (UER), Best Traditional Song of the Year and Best Rapper of the Year categories. For any artiste to have bagged this many nominations is no mean achievement right. You certainly need to watch out for #Don_Max, #Tilakou #Militanz
B-wayne who hails from Tongo in the Upper East Region and goes by the popular slogan “Bakanbork3” which when translated from Gurune means “they will not understand” is another artist to look out for when it comes to B-Town music. Among some of the hit songs to his credit are Peace in which he calls for unity among artistes in Bolga in order to promote the growth of the music industry in the Upper East Region. Some of his other hit songs include Control, Tumanu, Mobile Money, and Paper. His unrivalled stagecraft makes him the favourite of many event organisers in Bolga as he headlined the Independence Bash, the Peace Campaign Concert, Sallah Fest and the Kimakinna Concert. The next time you are looking for a guest artiste for your show or concert in Upper East, your best bet is B-Wayne.
I choose to call her the First Lady of music in the Upper East Region especially because the industry is largely male-dominated. A naturally-gifted singer, her goose-bump inducing voice makes her the go-to singer for musical collaborations. No wonder she has worked on countless songs with artistes across the region and beyond. She claimed her place on the Ghanaian music scene during the 2013 Vodafone Icons and has only moved forward in her music career since. Among some of her hit songs are Take Me Out, a cover of Adele’s Hello, and her latest, currently trending Zolko which when translated from Gurune means “mentally ill person”. The song has rich Gurune cultural content that can be enjoyed by all. The next time you hear Zolko playing anywhere, just go berserk and show your dance skills.
While these 7 artistes have been identified as some of the most talented and promising musicians in the industry, it is important to acknowledge the amazing work that artistes like Ras Zaazy, Ginseng, Number Wan, Swag boy, Ital, JayIykePiosio, Show Boy, Ras Wormz and Carl Blingx are doing. These are certainly the torch-bearers that are clearing the path for the growth of music in the Upper East Region. Also, we hope to see more women break into the music industry in the next few years to add some diversity to the music scene..
Upper East to the World. We are coming like Kakai…Bakanbork3!!!
About the Writer
Frederic Baada is a music enthusiast, analyst and critic. He lives in Bolga and works at the Bolgatanga Polytechnic. You can find him on Facebook: Naazi-Ale Baada, Twitter: @Dapublik_Enemi and via mail at: email@example.com