Thursday, September 6, 2007

Some Recent Tunes From Ghana

If you're a homesick Ghanaian who's hungry for the taste of Banku, Kenkey or Shito, Makola Super Market in Chicago (1017 W. Wilson Ave., 773-935-6990 or 773-878-3958) is the place to go. In addition to its culinary offerings, Makola has a nice selection of Ghanaian DVDs and CDs, almost none of them available through the usual World Music™ sources.

I've been wanting to do a post on Ghanaian music, and since I'm a bit pinched for time, it seemed easy enough to rip some tracks from a few of these CDs. I got these the last time I was in Makola, which must have been four or five years ago, as they're all dated around 2002. So, they're not the very latest thing from Ghana, but they do give one a decent idea of what's been going on musically in that country recently.

Those hoping for the sophisticated sounds of classic dance-band highlife ala the Ramblers or Uhurus, or the down-home guitar stylings epitomized by the African Brothers Band are in for a disappointment. These tracks are all in the synthesizer-heavy "Burger highlife" style that started among Ghanaian musicians in Germany twenty years ago and has been so popular of late. I'm a bit distressed about the eclipse of the classic Ghana guitar sound myself (and if it hasn't been eclipsed, please school me; I'm not as up to date on these matters as I should be!), but I have to say that for synth-pop, these tunes pretty much hit the spot for me. The cheesiness quotient is low, the arrangements are top-rate, and the vocals are mighty fine indeed.

I can't tell you much about the artists, nor anything about the lyrics. If anyone out there is familiar with Twi or whatever language(s) these are in, please enlighten us!

Nana Tuffour is the only one of these musicians that I was familiar with. He is said to have been born on Valentine's Day 1954 and has been recording since at least the 1980s, having released numerous LPs, cassettes and CDs. "Abeiku" is from his CD of the same name (Owusek Productions OW 66-2, 2002). The prolific Oheneba Kissi has been recording since 1990 and has put out 13 albums. I was kinda knocked on my heels by the opening notes of "Wogya Me Ho A," a fine tune from his 2002 release ABC of Love (Owusek Productions OW 65-2).

Nana Tuffour - Abeiku

Oheneba Kissi - Wogya Me Ho A

It just goes to show how out of it I am that I'd never heard of Kojo Antwi - he's released at least a dozen CDs. His voice has been compared to R. Kelly's, and he looks a little like him, too. "Eva," aka "Sista Sledge," accompanies him on "Odo Ano Wappi," from Densu (Freedom Family Music FFM08152002-12, 2002). I can't tell you much about Nana Acheampong other than he was one of the famous Lumba Brothers back in the '80s before going solo
. He has issued numerous cassettes and CDs on his own and recently re-united with his partner Daddy Lumba (Charles Kwadwo Fosu) for a Lumba Brothers reunion tour. "Gyegye Meso" is from XXL (Owohene Productions MOR 0210).

Kojo Antwi - Odo Ano Wappi

Nana Acheampong - Gyegye Meso

London-based Kwaisey Pee has several CDs to his credit and has been making inroads in the home market. "Enye Agro" is from Krokro Me (New Era Productions). I was quite impressed with Kaakyire Kwame Appiah's Eye Gye (Tropic Vibe Productions 2002-2003). Not only does Mr. Appiah pay tribute to Nico Mbarga's "Sweet Mother" in this tune, "Kono Saa," he also references the Mahotella Queens' "Kazet" on another track, "Shubidu." Catch the video here.

Kwaisey Pee - Enye Agro

Kaakyire Kwame Appiah -
Kono Saa

If you're interested in obtaining any of this sort of music, try I've not had any dealings with them, so I can't say how reliable they are, but their website features an excellent selection.


Comb & Razor said...

yeah... other than Kojo Antwi, i don't know any of these artists (well... i think i've seen the Nana Acheampong CD in African stores in the past)

out of all of them, i think i'm feeling the Nana Tuffuor most. it's tough for me with this kind of stuff... i have a problem with synthesizers in African music. not that i oppose their use entirely; i just wish that the choice of synths wasn't so crappy.

that's mostly for the early 2000s, though... that was a sire period indeed! things are getting better and i'm loving a lot of the stuff coming out of Ghana that i see on YouTube and other places.

zim said...


next time you're at makola, you should stop by Palace Gate next door - the food's pretty good.

glad you went ahead and bout some of the music, I'm totally lost when it comes to newer ghanian stuff and so didn't pick up any

mattgy said...

For a good taste of what's up in Ghana these days check-out some recent hiplife. It's a highlife/hiphop fusion.. hence the name.

Kwaito fans or those looking for good hiphop music outside of Nigeria and the Dakar scene will be particularly impressed by some of the latest hiplife releases.

Ouiea crea said...

congratulations ...great work im trippin with this kind of information and respect....

babaloo said...

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Anonymous said...

Here is a nice mix you can download with some of the latest hi-life (and a few hiplife) hits from Ghana, featuring, among others, Ofori Amponsah, Kofi B, Daasebre Gyamenah, Kontihene...
Daasebre Gyamenah is my favourite highlifeartist of the new generation, his latest album "A friend in need" is definately worth checking out.

John B. said...

Dear Dr. Frank: Thanks for this comment. I downloaded the mix and I really enjoy it. Is there possibly a tracklist available? I'd really like to know more about the songs & artists.

Anonymous said...

All the songs were very popular in Ghana when I was there last november but unfortunately I don't know all the names and songtitles.
These are the ones I know:
1st song: Ofori Amponsah - Ya Boakyewaa (album:Odwo)
song 3: Kofi B - Akua Ataa(album: The return of Kofi B)
song 4: Daasebre Gyamenah - Abofra mesu (album: A friend in need)
song 6: Kontihene - Kro hin kro (album: Esum)
song 8: AB Crentsil & Obour - Juliana (album: The best of 2 lifes)
song 9: Daddy Lumba - Tokrom (album: Tokrom)
Song 10: Kofi B - Koforidua flowers (album: The return of Kofi B)
Song 11: Daasebre Gyamenah - Wafom (album: A friend in need)

Another nice new album but which is not in this mix is Nana Quame's "Power".

Anonymous said...

BTW, some nice old highlife is now being reissued by the US-based label T-Vibe records (10001 Lindley Ct., Lanham, MD 20706 - tel: 240.432.7453).
They have reissues of Sweet Talks, C.K. Mann, Ramblers, K.K.'s N°2 Band, E.K.'s Band, Kofi Sammy, Alex Konadu, AB Crentsil, Jewel Ackah, Eric Agyemang, Amakye Dede...

Anonymous said...

You can listen to some more recent songs from Ghana and other parts of Africa at We have lyrics too

Williams said...

You can listen to some more recent songs from Ghana and other parts of Africa at We have lyrics too