The Best Ghanaian Songs of 2018

Here are the 23 best Ghanaian tracks of the year featuring La Même Gang, KiDi, Juls, Efya, Sarkodie, M.anifest, Kwesi Arthur, Kuami Eugene and many more.

Welcome to our inaugural list of the Best Ghanaian Songs of the Year.

The big name artists have made impressive showings in 2018, as did a swathe of newcomers who are making commendable strides towards their debut projects and establishing their identities. Even more refreshing is the emergence of emo raps in the music of La Même Gang. Friction between Sarkodie and Shatta Wale may divide fervent fans but it's made for some energetic competition and debates in what's been a big year's harvest of soundscapes, styles and good fun.

Read along for our selection of the Best Ghanaian Songs Of 2018. Listed in no particular order. —Sabo Kpade

GuiltyBeatz x Mr Eazi x Patapaa x Pappy Kojo "Akwaaba"

"Akwaaba" is undoubtedly the biggest Ghanaian dance anthem of 2018. Banku Music in-house producer Guiltybeatz dropped this as his debut single featuring Mr Eazi and rappers Pappy Kojo and Patapaa. The song and its accompanying dance went viral shortly after its release, and it has been seen on dance floors all over the world, instantly putting the producer on the map.—Nnamdi Okirike

Kuami Eugene "Wish Me Well" 

A tale of well wishes to well wishers that may also double as a rebuke to naysayers, "Wish Me Well" excels as a secular gospel song in the way it combines personal triumph with religious innocence. Kuami Eugene traces cadences and techniques—like some signature ad-libs and the hook's cluttered refrain and sweet melodic lines—that are reminiscent of Wizkid, but without a smudge on his own singing talent. —Sabo Kpade

Kwesi Arthur x M.anifest "Feels" 

"Feels" is one of the hardest Ghanaian hip-hop songs you'll hear this year. Elite rapper M.anifest delivers a potential anthem featuring rising rap sensation Kwesi Arthur who demonstrates his hook-making skills. M.anifest laces the track with introspective and inspirational bars, reflecting on his wins on the instrumental produced by MikeMillzOnEm. —Nnamdi Okirike

Shatta Wale "My Level" 

As is evident all throughout his latest album, Reign, Shatta Wale reaches new emotional heights when he beats in his gravelly voice about his life struggles. This is proven on "Life In Nima" and elsewhere as on "Alakpator" and "My Level," which presents humility while insisting on his status. —Sabo Kpade

Joey B x La Même Gang "Stables" 

A-list rapper Joey B dropped a banger featuring the Ghanaian cool kid music collective, La Même Gang. Maintaining the cowboy ethos he adopted in his last project, the Ranger EP, the rapper sticks to the template, presenting the American Western aesthetic in the artwork, visual, and even the production of "Stables"—fast paced guitar chords over a trap beat produced by Nova. La Même Gang members Darkovibes, RJZ, KwakuBs, Spacely, and Kiddblack each deliver their own verses, finishing up a hip-hop joint you won't be forgetting any time soon. —Nnamdi Okirike

Amaarae "Fluid"

Amaarae is one of 2018's best discoveries. A petite songstress with multicolored hair and killer fashion sense, she delivers R&B and soul with dreamy sultry vocals that have you feeling like you're in the clouds. "Fluid" is a cut from her debut EP, Passionfruit Summers. Both the song and its video draw you in immediately, starting from the atmospheric production to the colorful and pleasing visuals. The singer uses every tool at her disposal to pull you into her world and get you hooked, and we're definitely not mad at it. —Nnamdi Okirike

E.L "Ghana Meets Naija" 

"We fit fight hard we fit beat Naija / why you dey fear? Them dem breath like us" rails E.L on this big push back against the dominance of Nigerian artists on Ghanaian pop music. He rallies his country men: "the whole Africa go shock when them see what's inside us / but the whole quality for rise up / mediocrity for die kraa."—Sabo Kpade

KiDi "Thunder" 

One of Ghana's new superstars, KiDi, has delivered hit after hit of great afrobeats tunes. The singer employs a proven formula of catchy lyrics, sing-along hooks, and easygoing highlife-influenced instrumentals that make his love songs instant anthems. "Thunder," a song that will definitely have you singing along at first listen, is no exception to that rule.—Nnamdi Okirike

Becca x Sarkodie "Nana" 

"Nana" is a pledge of unbridled love and loyalty by Ghanaian pop royalty that makes one wonder just how delightful and influential a joint album à la The Carters could possibly be. Both are in excellent form: Sarkodie is ever compact and precise, his athletic delivery and big boasts the perfect accompaniment to Becca's celestial voice, here, beautifully restrained with light flourishes and echoed with muted vocals. —Sabo Kpade

Eddie Khae "Do The Dance" 

"Do The Dance" is a hip afrobeats joint that blew up seemingly out of nowhere. Months after its release, the song by the up-and-coming rapper Eddie Khae exploded into a dance anthem. However the track itself isn't the only star of this show, as its accompanying dance step, as seen in the official video, became the rave of the clubs and dance floors in Ghana. Eddie Khae delivered an unsuspecting hit with this one, and party people all over Ghana thank him for it.—Nnamdi Okirike

La Même Gang "Stone Island"

Intense and happy friendships between males, as portrayed in the video for La Même Gang's "Stone Island," are a rarity that the song itself, melancholic as it is, could only achieve in parts. A strong sentiment such as, "I felt bad when homie said send me cash and I can't do shit for him / I felt bad when he buried his dad and I showed up late for it" speaks of a private shame while in the video, a shot of the group shirtless and cuddled up in bed is strikingly tender.—Sabo Kpade

Akwaboah x Strongman "Forget"

Newcomer Akwaboah is a songwriter and vocalist signed to Sarkodie's Sarkcess music record label. "Forget" is one of the standout singles from his debut album, Matters of the Heart. "Forget" is a simply beautiful afrobeats tune that has the singer professing his feelings for his love interest, with a guest verse by labelmate and Sarkodie's protégée, rapper Strongman.—Nnamdi Okirike

Efya x Mr Eazi "Mamee"

Expect no less a well crafted song from two of the most convincing singers in afropop. "Mamee" is another brilliant duet by Efya and a male artist, after the gem that is "Could This Be Love" with Mugeez, but this time it's Mr Eazi who deploys more stank in his voice than otherwise known. Meanwhile, Efya repurposes the majesty in her voice in service of a perfectly enjoyable pop song. —Sabo Kpade

R2Bees x Wizkid "Supa"

The R2Bees and Wizkid combo isn't a new one, and each time the afrobeats heavyweights get together to cook something up, they always dish it solid. "SUPA" is no exception. A laid-back afrobeats joint, it opens with a smooth verse from Wizkid, with Mugeez and Paedae following up to finish it off. The song is a single from the duo's upcoming SITE 15 album. We can't wait to see what else the project has in store.—Nnamdi Okirike

B4Bonah x M.anifest "Devil Is A Liar (Remix)"

B4Bonah is a newcomer who has demonstrated a knack for delivering thoroughly enjoyable music. This song is the remix to the artist's earlier dropped solo effort, this time featuring an additional verse from fellow Ghanaian rapper M.anifest, which upgrades the already infectious afrobeats song to a 10/10, with compelling visuals to match.—Nnamdi Okirike

Juls and Kojey Radical, two highly-buzzing British-Ghanaian acts, excellent in "Normal," a pairing of vocal virtuosity and sensible beat-making that went to even more complex depths in 2017's "Temperature Rising."

Kwesi Arthur "Woara"

Rising rap sensation and BET Award nominee Kwesi Arthur switches it up to deliver a Ghanaian highlife tune. "Woara (God's Engineering)" is an inspirational tune that has the rapper telling the things God has done for him, and giving thanks for his recent successes. The song flew up the charts in Ghana immediately after its release, becoming Kwesi's biggest hit since "Grind Day."—Nnamdi Okirike

Sarkodie "Black Excellence" 

Sarkodie extols the virtues of hard work and self-reflection with characteristic zest and precision over woozy bass synths and trap drums in this Nova-produced banger, "Black Excellence."—Sabo Kpade

Medikal x Kwesi Arthur x Ahtitude "How Much"

A bar-fest as ferocious as any, the trio of Medikal, Kwesi Arthur and Ahtitude address a pertinent question—"how much be your too much money?"—with enough verve and audacity to make any loaded pocket insecure. —Sabo Kpade

Wendy Shay "Bedroom Commando" 

An unabashed title for an unabashed invitation, Wendy Shay makes no bones about her sensual intentions to a love interest. With urgings to "fire, fire," Shay invites as well as challenge her lover with an ego boost "bedroom commando" and an even bigger one promised: "call you my hero." Who could resist! —Sabo Kpade

King Promise "Abena" 

Beneath the very decent writing and what is a perfectly enjoyable love song in "Abena" is a disciplined R&B voice and technique that will continue to serve King Promise well. —Sabo Kpade

Miyaki "Anfara"

Translating to "it's begun" in Hausa, "Anfara" is a single from one of the new wonder boys of Ghanaian pop, and self-described "youngest in charge," Miyaki. In title and composition, "Anfara" is reminiscent of another song of the same title by ClassiQ, the gifted upcoming Nigerian rapper who is also Hausa. More interestingly, the song presents a new dimension with not just the language—which is rarely used in top layer pop in either countries—but also the melodies and humour, particular to Hausa folk songs. —Sabo Kpade

Mzvee x K "Bend Down"

An unabashed dance floor number that is quick to get down to business, "Bend Down" combines the both MzVee and Kuami Eugene's strengths in pop-highlife, pop-R&B and in-trend dances to make a satisfying song and video which does not out stay its welcome. —Sabo Kpade

Follow our Best Songs of 2018 playlist on Spotify.

The front page of The New York Times on January 16, 2019

Kenyans Are Furious at the New York Times for Posting Photos of Terrorist Victims

After the the deadly attack on Tuesday, many are accusing the American newspaper of having a double standard on which dead bodies they allow into the paper

Is the New York Times guilty of a double standard when it comes to publishing images of dead bodies?

Kenyans, and others fed up with the coverage, took to social media in the hundreds to denounce a Times article that included an image of victims of Tuesday's Nairobi terrorist attack, bloodied from bullets, and lying hunched over their laptops, dead.

It has cause enough debate online to where the Times' incoming East Africa Bureau chief Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura felt the need to explain their photo policy, which is to show the dead only if their faces cannot be seen in the image. The photo in question fits the policy as the faces are facing away from the camera. She would later apologize before posting the official policy to her Twitter account. The photo remains up.

The Times' official response, as those tend to do online, has only created more anger. But unlike many unruly Twitter mobs, those responding to the official statement have a rather coherent message—"you wouldn't do this with photos of the American dead."

Some of the responses to the Times' official statement.

In a response to the controversy from the Poynter Institute, a typically astute observer of journalistic practice in the United States, they run through the typical American journalism school approach to publishing photos that might shock or offend. They write:

Should the Times have run the photo?
There is no easy answer.
The first question any news organization must ask when deciding to publish violent images is: WHY show it?
In other words, what is the news value? Does the public need to see such an image to fully grasp what happened? Does the public need to see such a photo to confirm or disprove the official account of the events?
An argument could be made that a writer's words could accurately describe the scene without being as disturbing as the image. In addition, when it comes to an act of terrorism, might publishing such a photo actually advance the cause of the terrorists, showing the damage they caused, thus fueling dread and panic?
Also this: The photo on the Times website came without warning. As a reader, you didn't know you were going to see a photo of dead people until you actually saw it.
Those are arguments to not run such a photo or, at least, warn readers of its graphic content.

While it's a fine analysis of when to show a violent image, it misses the central issue at play for those aggrieved by the Times' posting—that the American news-gaze values certain lives differently. Black, brown, foreign, poor—American journalism organizations, including the New York Times, cannot escape a base ethnocentrism in their coverage. It's so embedded into how these institutions operate, and the gap in understanding is so wide, that to much of the world, the Times' official response is laughably wrong at first glance.

"We take the same approach wherever in the world something like this happens--balancing the need for sensitivity and respect with our mission of showing the reality of these events"

And while there are examples from the Times that complicate this feeling, like these images of the dead in the terrorist attack in Nice, France, it doesn't discount the wider and correct feeling that the white victims of American mass shootings are treated differently than their African counterparts. And while there are complicated and systematic reasons for this which will always make discussing it difficult, to simply deny that different standards exist, does not increase the Times' credibility with Kenyans or the newspaper's growing online audience which will only become more vocal about how they're portrayed.

Falz 'Moral Instruction'

The 10 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

The best music of the week featuring Falz, King Monada, Zlatan, Yemi Alade and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our Best Music of the Week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow OkayAfrica on Spotify and Apple Music to get immediate updates every week and read about some of our selections ahead.

Keep reading... Show less

Violent Attack at Kenyan Hotel Ends With 14 Dead

The remaining hostages were freed after a 17-hour standoff between militants and Kenyan security forces on Wednesday.

The final hostages in the violent terrorist attack which took place at the DusitD2 Hotel in Naoribi's affluent Westlands district yesterday have been freed after a 17 hour standoff between Kenyan security forces and Al Shabab militants.

In a speech this morning, Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the rescue mission over, stating that there were 700 people rescued and a total of 14 casualties. He also stated that all of the attackers had been killed in the operation, according to Quartz Africa. "Every person that was involved in the funding, planning and execution of this heinous act will be relentlessly pursued," added Kenyatta.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox