J.Derobie in "Poverty" (Youtube)

The 15 Best Ghanaian Songs of the Month

Featuring Pappy Kojo, Medikal, Kwesi Arthur, J.Derobie, Maame Yaa and more

From a defiantly feminist anthem to a gospel-tinged rap ballad, from a new dancehall sensation to yet-another dance banger that is sure to spawn numerous remixes, the start of 2019 has served up a bounty of afropop from Ghanaian artists.

Read ahead for our selection of the best Ghanaian pop songs of January. —Sabo Kpade

Medikal 'Omo Ada'

"This no be azonto, this no be alkeyda / this one I don't know, we dey go with the flow" instructs Medikal on this unabashed house banger doing the most with a few words but choosing to dexterously jam-pack syllabuses as a guest on "Meshye Bi" with label mate AMG Armani. —Sabo Kpade

Pappy Kojo 'Balance' feat. Joey B & Nshorna

Balance is the equivalent of 100 fire emojis, and that is no exaggeration. This song right here is an infectious hip-hop joint by rapper Pappy Kojo, featuring frequent collaborator Joey B and producer-artist Nshorna Muzik. A bouncy bed squeak beat laced with bars full of catchphrases and quotables, the song became an instant anthem on release. This Altra Nova produced joint has restored Pappy's shine within mainstream Ghanaian rap, and we can't wait to hear what other bangers he has for us this year. —Nnamdi Okirike

Pappy Kojo displays ease and charm on "Balance," his double time trap flow a perfect fit for swinging yet sturdy production by NOVA. —S.K.

Kwesi Arthur 'Open Your Eyes'

Kwesi Arthur urges a love interest for closer consideration, his efforts so far in vain. The pleasant afroswing beat allows for decent singing with any complex emotion summed up in one line: "are you joking or can you really not get me out of your head?" —S.K.

Magnom 'Big Body' feat. Nshorna Muzick

Artist and producer Magnom released the official video to his single "Big Body" featuring Nshorna Muzick this month and the video to this afrobeats joint definitely stands out. "Big Body" is a single from Magnom's upcoming project, a joint mixtape with Nshorna featuring songs with azonto-style afrobeats—basically a nod to a past era in Ghanaian music. The video for "Big Body" is a fun animated clip that sees the two artists playing a retro style shooter video game, whereas a reward for their courage their characters encounter, you guessed it: a big body. —N.O.

Darkovibes "Obra" feat. Mac

Darkovibes earns his name once again un "Obra" on account of the brooding trap beat and muffled, treated vocals helped by an alert Mac M. —S.K.

Boiiisam "9-5" feat. Adi Virgo

Singer Boiiisam is another new face in the Ghana music industry, and he made his official video debut with this song titled "9-5," featuring Ghanaian dancehall singer Adi Virgo. "9-5" is a smooth afro-dancehall tune where the singer serenades his love interest in suave afropop star fashion. The dance party themed 4k visuals are sleek, complimenting the song perfectly, all in all delivering an enjoyable package from the buzzing newcomer. —N.O.

Maame Yaa 'Proud Slay Queens' 

What a clapback! Maame Yaa Jackson's response to "Proud Fuck Boys" by Tulenkey and Eddie Khae is frank and hilarious about women's treatment of the questionable men in their lives. Bang on point. —S.K.

Worlasi 'Pawa'

Talented Ghanaian rapper and singer Worlasi starts the year by dropping a new song titled "Pawa," after having released only one song throughout the whole of 2018. The song, a smooth but groovy afrobeats tune produced by Lexyz, sees the artist asking God to give him the "Pawa" to face the stresses of life. From the look of things, Worlasi's brand emphasizes quality over quantity, and this joint right here is a perfect example. —N.O.

KaySo 'Flourish (amen)'

An evergreen theme of triumphalism gets a new look by KaySo, whose new single (and insistent title in brackets) could easily rouse a church, party or market crowd in equal measure. —S.K.

J.Derobie "Poverty" feat. Mr Eazi

J.Derobie is a newcomer to the Ghana music scene whose debut single "Poverty" has had considerable impact. What was just a mobile phone video clip became a complete single and video after his entry was shortlisted into Mr Eazi's "Empawa" program. Poverty is a dancehall song addressing the struggles of life, complete with patois lingo. The song has been endorsed by Jamacian dancehall heavywights Popcaan and Kranium, as well as several top Ghanaian musicians since its release, and the video's views are still steadily climbing. J.Derobie might just be the underdog of the year, and he delivered to us not just a unique story, but an unforgettable tune as well. —N.O.

Flat song title aside, J.Derobie sounds like the real deal in voice, cadence and feeling. The faint shrill in his singing appears genuinely interested in the emotions it is conveying especially one about the pains of growing up poor. —S.K

Sarkodie "I Know" feat. Reekado Banks"

A solid, uplifting chorus from Reekado Banks is the perfect serving for Sarkodie to sermonise with trademark gusto on lofty topics of self believe, endurance and triumphalism. S.K.

E.L 'Collect' feat. Kwesi Arthur

It is not an innuendo if it is explicit but E.L does an impressive job of drawing on all that excites about sexual suggestions in a playful and effective flow and a well sung hook. —S.K.

Wendy Shay 'All For You'

By turns raunchy and sensual, Wendy Shay's "All For You" is a near perfect afropop confection but is not included in the 10 songs that make up her confident debut album, Shay On You, which was released 15 days before. —S.K.

Dancehall singer Wendy Shay of RuffTown Records continues to release a steady stream of content, and this month she released a particularly sweet and infectious afrobeats tune titled "All For You," with fun and colorful visuals to match. The songstress continues to deliver in style, and we're definitely here for it! —N.O.

MzVee "No Be Say I Like You" feat. Ko Jo Cue

Using a time-honoured formula, "No Be Like Say I Like You" combines a catchy and simple hook by MzVee over an uncluttered beat that is well balanced by two effortless verses from Kojo Cue.S.K.

B-NA 'Slave'

B-NA is a new rapper whose age the best search on the internet puts at around 9-years-old. "Slave" is a song about maltreatment of children and shows impressive self-awareness and unusual precocity in the manner she adapts to the beat. More please. —S.K.

"Ba Jo" cover art.

Listen to Joojo Addison & Amaarae's Infectious New Single 'Ba Jo'

The uplifting new single from the Ghanaian artists builds on a highlife-style guitar riff and afro-fusion beat work.

Joojo Addison and Amaarae comes through with a highly-addictive new track, "Ba Jo."

The new single from the Ghanaian artists is built on a highlife-style guitar riff and afro-fusion beat work. It sees Joojo Addison taking the lead with a solid verse and hook-filled chorus.

Amaarae comes in with her sultry vocals to bring the track home, as she interpolates Aqua's "Barbie Girl" in a clever way.

Joojo Addison mentions that "Ba Jo" is "a song brewed from the ambience of love and togetherness" The uplifting track was produced by MikeMillzOnEm.

Get into Joojo Addison and Amaarae's "Ba Jo" below.

For more Ghanaian music, follow our GHANA WAVE playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

News Brief
Darkovibes in "Mike Tyson" (Youtube)

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"Mike Tyson is a song for champions, pathfinders and trail blazers," Darkovibes' team says of the single and Accra-shot video.

A few months ago, Ghanaian artist and La Meme Gang member Darkovibes connected with Nigeria's Runtown for "Mike Tyson."

That addictive single now gets a new music video, directed by Zed, which follows both artists across Accra's High street and other city locations.

"Mike Tyson is a song for champions, pathfinders and trail blazers," a statement from Darkovibes' team reads. "It is for those who stand against popular opinions and make it. Runtown... touches on developmental issues in Nigeria. He also speaks on being bold in the face of institutional oppositions and signs out with a badman proclamation."

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We speak with the South African artist about his captivating new album, iimini, love cycles, and the unexpected influence of Bon Iver.

"I've been playing at home for so many years and pretending to be having shows in my living room, and today it's actually happening," Bongeziwe Mabandla says, smiling out at me from my cellphone as I watch him play songs on Instagram Live, guitar close to his chest.

Two weekends ago, Mabandla was meant to be celebrating the release of his third album, iimini, at the Untitled Basement in Braamfontein in Joburg, which would no doubt have been packed with some of the many fans the musician has made since his debut release, Umlilo, in 2012. With South Africa joining many other parts of the world in a lockdown, those dates were cancelled and Mabandla, like many other artists, took to social media to still play some tracks from the album. The songs on iimini are about the life and death of a relationship—songs that are finding their way into the hearts of fans around the world, some of whom, now stuck in isolation, may be having to confront the ups and downs of love, with nowhere to hide.

The day before his Instagram Live mini-show, Mabandla spoke to OkayAfrica on lockdown from his home in Newtown about the lessons he's learned from making the album, his new-found love for Bon Iver, and how he's going to be spending his time over the next few weeks.

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Lueking Photos. Courtesy of emPawa Africa.

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GuiltyBeatz isn't a new name in the Ghanaian music scene. A casual music fan's first introduction to him would've likely been years ago on "Sample You," one of Mr Eazi's early breakout hits. However, he had scored his first major hit two years before that, in the Nigerian music space on Jesse Jagz' and Wizkid's 2013 hit "Bad Girl." In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists.

In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists, having worked with the likes of Efya, Pappy Kojo, Sarkodie, R2Bees, Stonebwoy, Bisa Kdei, Wande Coal, Moelogo and many more over the last decade. The biggest break of the talented producer's career, however, came with the arrival of his own single "Akwaaba".

In 2018, GuiltyBeatz shared "Akwaaba" under Mr Eazi's Banku Music imprint, shortly afterwards the song and its accompanying dance went viral. The track and dance graced party floors, music & dance videos, and even church auditoriums all around the world, instantly making him one of Africa's most influential producers. Awards, nominations, and festival bookings followed the huge success of "Akwaaba." Then, exactly a year later, the biggest highlight of his career so far would arrive: three production credits on Beyoncé's album The Lion King: The Gift.

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