Image courtesy of the artist via Emerald East PR.

Yaw Tog.

The 12 Best Ghanaian Songs of 2021 So Far

Featuring Yaw Tog, Okese1, Kwesi Arthur, Gyakie, KiDi, Wendy Shay, Kuami Eugene, Mr Drew and more.

We're officially halfway through 2021, and what an exciting year it has been for music so far! The first half of the year has seen a steady stream of pop hits, drill anthems, international remixes, and more from our favorite Ghanaian artists, emerging and established. Want the rundown? We've brought you a list of the best songs of the year so far. Check out the list below!

Follow our GHANA WAVE playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Okese1 'Na Today'

Rapper and "Yie Yie" hitmaker Okese1 came through at the very top of the year with something different from the usual drill banger. "Na Today" has since become one of the biggest dance tunes of the year, gracing events and dance floors all across the country.

Yaw Tog, Stormzy & Kwesi Arthur 'Sore (Remix)'

Earlier this year rapper Yaw Tog issued the remix of his smash hit single "Sore,: this time around joining forces with UK superstar Stormzy and Ground Up rapper Kwesi Arthur. The original version of the heavy drill anthem has also earned the young rap star the award for "Hip-Hop Song of the Year" at the just held 2021 Ghana Music Awards (VGMAs). Read our list of 9 Must-Hear Songs From Ghana's Drill Scene.

Gyakie & Omah Lay 'Forever (Remix)'

Gyakie's 2020 hit single "Forever" began its uphill climb earlier this year when it debuted on Billboard's Top Triller Global chart at number 4. The song took off from there and became a viral hit, hitting charts in both Ghana and Nigeria and also leading to the young star landing a deal with Sony Music. Another result of the song's incredible run is its official remix, this time featuring Nigerian singer Omah Lay. Read our new interview with Gyakie here.

Wendy Shay 'Nobody'

Singer Wendy Shay recently dropped her second studio album Shayning Star. This tune "Nobody," the first single off the album, presented a new sound and musical style for the afrobeats and dancehall singer. Here, Wendy issues candid commentary on life but the highlight of the song is the music itself — a smooth R&B style ballad executed perfectly by the Rufftown Records vocalist.

Mr Drew 'Mood'

Highly Spiritual's rising star Mr Drew dropped a fun afrobeats bop simply titled "Mood." Catchy is an understatement here as Mr Drew cooks up a tune that has been and will definitely still be the soundtrack to many a party to come.

Kuami Eugene 'Dollar On You'

Lynx Entertainment star Kuami Eugene continued his incredible run of hits with his latest single, "Dollar on You." The self-produced afrobeats tune presents a simple mantra — put your body on him and he'll put his dollar on you. Check out our interview with him about the single and his upcoming EP.

King Promise 'Slow Down'

King Promise is back and getting ready for his album run, starting with this new single. A co-production by Nigerian singer and producer Nonso Amadi and Ghanaian star producer Killbeatz, King Promise's latest single "Slow Down" is the perfect afro-R&B fusion. At a little over three minutes, "Slow Down" is an earworm you can't listen to just once.

Kwesi Arthur 'Winning' ft. Vic Mensa

Rapper Kwesi Arthur dropped a new hip-hop anthem titled "Winning," featuring Vic Mensa. The Ghanaian-American rapper has been appearing on a string of features with several Ghanaian artists, but this one right here may just be the most lit! Vic goes beast mode on his verse, complimenting the equally energetic performance by Kwesi perfectly.

KiDi 'Touch It'

Off his just released second studio album The Golden Boy, KiDi was on his dancehall steez with his second official single of the year. An easygoing melodic bop, this one should definitely be added to your new music rotation.

Black Sherif 'First Sermon'

If you haven't heard of Black Sherif by now, you need to get hip because he's one young artist who is definitely next to blow. On this freestyle joint titled "First Sermon," Sherif narrates his life and struggles on the song that earned the rising star a Sarkodie co-sign.

R2Bees 'Fine Wine' ft. King Promise & Joeboy

Superstar duo R2Bees finally came back from a brief hiatus that felt like forever. For their return they hooked up with singers King Promise and Joeboy, and came up with a smooth afrobeats jam that is as refined as its name.

Jay Bahd 'Y3 Y3 Dom' ft Skyface SDW, Reggie,Kwaku DMC, City Boy, Kawabanga & O'Kenneth

Since last year drill anthems have never been in short supply, and the Life Living Records boys are making sure it stays that way. Rapper Jay Bahd came through with "Y3 Y3 Dom" featuring his Life Living Records squad, off his just released debut project Return of Okomfo Anokye.

Follow our GHANA WAVE playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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