Featuring Pappy Kojo, Sarkodie, Amaarae, Kwesi Arthur, Shatta Wale, Efya GuiltyBeatz, Joey B, R2Bees and many more.
2019 was definitely an exciting year for Ghanaian music.
Right from the top of the year, we saw both new and established make their mark with songs that would soundtrack the nation's airwaves, functions, and nights for months to come. In 2019 we got to experience an E.L comeback, Shatta Wale and Beyoncé on the same song, numerous solid Ghana-Naija collaborations, and bop after bop by old and new artists alike.
We also saw the rise of brand new artists, starting from the likes of J.Derobie's wave making debut in January, to Kofi Mole's widespread trap anthem, to Fameye's declaration of brokeness, to the promising future superstar Sam Opoku. As far as projects go, 2019 was a good year for that in the Ghana music space as well. We were blessed with an EP from Sarkodie, an album by the superstar duo R2Bees, talented singer King Promise's debut album, Ko-Jo Cue's stellar debut, and M.anifest's 7-track feel-good EP, among several others.
Ghanaian music has been stepping its game up lately, and there's only one way to go from here. Below, we give you the rundown on the Ghanaian songs that stole ears and hearts and set the pace for the country's sound this year.
Check out the list below. Listen in no particular order.—Nnamdi Okirike
Pappy Kojo 'Balance' feat. Joey B & Nshorna
Pappy Kojo opened the year with a hip-hop banger that completely dominated the first quarter of 2019, and then some. An infectious bop featuring rapper Joey B and producer-artist and 'azonto' originator Nshorna Muzik, the rapper consolidated his return to the mainstream with this one, blessing us with a wavy rap anthem at the same time. —Nnamdi Okirike
Pappy Kojo displays ease and charm on "Balance." his double time trap flow is a perfect fit for the swinging-yet-sturdy production by Nova. —Sabo Kpade
J.Derobie 'Poverty' feat. Mr Eazi
In what has probably been the most notable debut in Ghanaian music in 2019, J.Derobie got his lucky break when a short video clip of him singing caught social media's attention, leading to him being selected for funding in Mr Eazi's emPawa program. The dancehall singer went to the studio and the rest is history, as this one song became the gateway to what is now a thriving music career. —N.O.
The faint shrill in J.Derobie's voice, as head in "Poverty," appears genuinely interested in the emotion it's conveying: one about the pains of growing up poor. —S.K.
Amaarae 'LIKE IT'
"Like It" by Amaarae draws from images of a glacier, missile and a pistol to convey longing for a lover. The neat and playful writing, when sung in her feather-soft falsetto, makes for seductive listening. Read her OkayAfrica op-ed around the single for us: 3 Moments That Defined My Journey As a Woman In Search of Herself & Her Purpose.—S.K.
The rapper, singer, and producer E.L's first single for the year not only delivered a dope tune, but did something more notable: it ended his dry spell and returned him to the top of the charts, a spot he once used to dominate. A fun, motivational afropop tune reminiscent of a gospel song, "Higher" pushed Elom Adablah back in the ears and hearts of Ghanaian music fans once again, hopefully to stay there this time. —N.O.
GuiltyBeatz, Mr Eazi & Kwesi Arthur 'Pilolo'
Producer GuiltyBeatz' propulsive bass drum that is varied with melodic astral effects in the hit song"Pilolo," which sees him joined by Mr Eazi and Kwesi Arthur. "Pilolo" is also the name of a children's outdoor game, as well as a short-lived dance craze from Ghana. —S.K.
This year, superstar duo R2Bees hit us with a full length album titled Site 15. They also dropped visuals for this smooth afrobeats cut from the project, that's yet another display of the musical chemistry between the dreadlocked singer and the gruff-voiced rapper. "Yesterday" is a new party playlist staple from the two industry titans, much to the pleasure of R2Bees fans worldwide. —N.O.
Juls, Tiggs Da Author, Santi 'Maayaa'
Ghanaian producer Juls connected with Nigerian alté star Santi and Tanzanian musician Tiggs Da Author for the sultry love song "Maayaa." The infectious song features mellow verses from both Santi and Tiggs Da Author as they sing about a woman who has captivated their hearts. The string-filled song has an old-school highlife feel—a sound that the celebrated producer is known to experiment with. "Maayaa" is dedicated to every bold black woman [who is] never embarrassed or ashamed to boast about their success and achievements, confident in their own skin and never scared to speak their mind," said Juls about the track upon its release. —Damola Durosomo
Kofi Mole 'Don't Be Late'
A solid contender for biggest hip-hop song of the year, Ground Up signee Kofi Mole delivered an unsuspecting hit that shot the newcomer into the stratosphere. "Don't Be Late" saw the lovestruck rapper make a case for his woman's love and affection. One is tempted to wonder whether the song's success is due to its quality or, at least partly, due to the fact that unrequited love is a widely relatable experience.—N.O.
Efya feat Medikal 'Ankwadobi'
Medikal's decent verse is "Ankwadobi" is playful next to Efya's reaffirmations to a lover about whom she is beyond doubt. She sings "I don't know what will ever make me leave you" over short trumpet phrases, urged by a steady drum march. —S.K.
Kwesi Arthur feat. Mr Eazi 'Nobody'
The lyrics on Kwesi Arthur and Mr Eazi's "Nobody" are earnest confessions, sung with a drawl that is common to both artists and right on trend with pop rap's current taste for the musicality of untraditional singing voices. —S.K.
Rapper Kwesi Arthur took a break from his usual lyricism displays to deliver an afrobeats ballad titled "Nobody." This time around he hooked up with Nigerian singer Mr Eazi, as the duo took turns singing their hearts out, detailing their affections for the one they chose. "Nobody" is probably Kwesi Arthur's biggest song the year. The rap style he's known for seems to have taken the back seat to afrobeats here. Nobody's complaining! —N.O.
Lord Paper 'Dzigbordi'
In May, singer Lord Paper delivered what is now the biggest song of his career, save his controversial viral debut "Awurama." "Dzigbordi" is a trap ballad in which the dreadlocked singer delivers a conscious message, speaking out against tribalism and discrimination in cross-cultural relationships, which is a very common issue in Africa's widely diverse societies. —N.O.
Sarkodie 'Odo' feat. EBONY
After a good while of SarkNation's incessant requests for new material from their king, elite rapper Sarkodie finally released a new project. The Alpha EP featured six songs of brand new material, as well as a video for "Legend," but our standout pick from the project is his posthumous collaboration with the late dancehall singer Ebony Reign. Sarkodie allows her vocals ample room to shine, much to the nostalgia and joy of many Ghanaian music listeners. —N.O.
"Odo," the standout from Sarkodie's Alpha EP, works as a fitting tribute and reminder of Ebony's vocal powers, given even more feeling by Sarkodie's efforts at a duet. —S.K.
Beyoncé, Shatta Wale & Major Lazer ' ALREADY'
Controversial Ghanaian dancehall and afrobeats singer Shatta Wale scored what is probably the biggest international collaboration by a Ghanaian artist so far. Recruited by Beyoncé for this dancehall cut off her Lion King: The Gift album, this collaboration saw the duo display a surprising level of chemistry. Beyoncé also channels her African influences, delivering a flow that could rival the best of performances by any female African dancehall act. —N.O.
The proven musicality in Shatta Wale's gruff voice adds good texture to Beyoncé's celestial soprano. "Shine already / it's time already" presents a themes of worth and self-determination in this standout song from Lion King: The Gift.—S.K.
Kojey Radical '20/20'
"Nothing is a spainful as staying stuck where you do not belong" reads the text four minutes into Kojey Radical's video for "20/20," a song which is about the life goals of a young man in his twenties. The track's most arresting lines address wider concerns, however, like "call you leader, tell him I need answers / tell him I need every piece of gold that came from Ghana." Changing vocal approaches and tastefully-costumed videos continue to make Kojey Radical a very watchable artist. —S.K.
DopeNation feat. Medikal 'Confam'
The duo DopeNation delivered their second single after being signed to Lynx Entertainment, home to Ghanaian superstars KiDi, Kuami Eugene, and MzVee. Assisted with a guest verse by rapper Medikal, the twin brothers dished out an afrobeats joint that doubles as a prayer. —N.O.
Sam Opoku 'Love Somebody'
MagicHands Music signee Sam Opoku delivered an exceptional joint with this one. Titled "Love Somebody," the singer issued an afrobeats song with a message—a heartfelt plea to a woman who is searching for the love of her life, but hasn't quite begun to love herself. Produced by Nigerian star producer and Wizkid associate Northboi, the newcomer impressed with his songwriting and vocal performance, leaving us with a song that will definitely stick in your head for longer expected. —N.O.
M.anifest 'Big Mad' ft. Simi
As Ghanaian rapper M.anifest was readying his much anticipated project The Gamble he issued the single "Big Mad," a collaboration with Nigerian singer and songwriter Simi. The rapper paints a picture of a love-turned-sour story, further demonstrated in the accompanying visuals. This one's yet-another solid Ghana-Naija collaboration. —N.O.
As earnest as it is needy, Darkovibes delivers a falsetto filled with feeling about a love interest whose listed qualities are summed up in one word, "Different." —S.K.
Shatta Wale 'Melissa'
Shatta Wale finally returned to the top of the charts with a solo single after several misses, due to his particularly-high work rate. With "Melissa" he delivered his biggest solo song this year. With his characteristic boyish charm, Shatta Wale churned out an afro-dancehall cut filled with promises of what he's willing to do for his darling "Melissa". —N.O.
Joey B feat. Boj 'No Waste Time'
Rapper Joey B dished out a bop with this one titled, "No Waste Time." A collaboration with Nigerian singer BOJ, the duo issue an enjoyable performance marked by simple, humorous bars on Joey's part, and a catchy and smooth hook delivered by BOJ's. The banger, currently sitting pretty in radio charts all across Ghana was produced by Nova. —N.O.
Follow our BEST SONGS OF 2019 playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.
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