One of the names that made Camidoh’s list was Gyakie, the soft-spoken Ghanaian pop star, whose talent took Africa’s biggest music market by storm.
Now, most people may not have been expecting Gyakie, an artist who is barely two years and one EP into the industry to be credited with playing a role in bridging the gap between Nigerian and Ghanaian music. However, Camidoh wasn’t wrong in his acknowledgment and I totally agree with him.
The history of Afrobeats has witnessed continuous cross-pollination of sound and culture between Nigeria and Ghana. While the Nigerian music industry is the more illustrious sibling that has taken Afrobeats far and wide, Ghanaian artists have played notable roles in uniting both markets and ensuring that Ghana played a role in the advancement of Afrobeats.
Credit must be given to Ghanaian Afrobeats legends such as Obrafour who popularized Hiplife and brought an urban touch to Ghanaian mainstream music. His efforts paved the way for future mainstream Ghanaian artists such as Sarkodie and Black Sheriff.
The subject of Ghanaian artists breaking into the Nigerian market cannot be discussed without mentioning the Ghanaian Hip Hop group VVIP (VIP). In 2007, the group had a song with 2 Baba (2Face Idibia) called ‘My Love.’ The single was hugely successful and it played a major part in blurring the lines between Nigerian and Ghanaian mainstream music.
In the same year, VIP’s ‘Ahomka Womu’ was a huge success in Nigeria despite the language barrier. The single was so popular it was covered by famous actress Patience Ozokwor AKA Mama G in her single ‘Make We Jolly.’ VIP’s landmark record would be sampled a decade later by Mut4y & Wizkid on ‘Manya,’ and it remained fresh even in the memories of listeners who were still very young when it was released.
VIP’s success opened the door for Sarkodie and R2Bees to come in and play their parts in further taking Ghanaian music to more Nigerian listeners. With them, collaborations became a regular occurrence. There was a harmonization of sound that united both markets and set the stage for Mr Eazi to come in and take it to the next level.
Mr Eazi a Nigerian who spent his formative years in Ghana was heavily influenced by Ghanaian Afrobeats. With his eyes set on international success, Mr Eazi knew he had to start in Nigeria which is the continent’s entertainment powerhouse.
Bringing with him a new Banku sound that was a mixture of Ghanaian highlife and western pop, Mr Eazi took Nigerian music by storm. His singles ‘Skintight’ and ‘Holl Up’ sounded different from the dominant sound in Nigeria at the time. His music found curious ears in Nigeria and with his hunger for success he was able to build on the momentum.
Since Mr Eazi, there has been a steady flow of Nigerian/Ghanaian collaborations however none was able to generate as much buzz as VIP’s ‘Ahomka Womu’ generated until Gyakie’s ‘Forever’ took Nigeria by surprise.
For many listeners including myself, I heard ‘Forever’ before I knew of the talent behind the single. “My mind dey for you. My heart beats for you…” was all I heard and I was instantly struck.
Like every Ghanaian song that has reached the pinnacle of success in the Nigerian music industry, ‘Forever’ has a special flavor that captured listeners and hooked them to the song.
When Nigerian superstar Omah Lay got on the remix, he revealed that it only took him minutes to record a verse after he received the request. According to him, he fell in love with the single the moment he heard the song and he already had a verse in his head.
Under normal circumstances, Omah Lay’s words would have amounted to nothing but white lies and patronage which is customary in his trade. However, with ‘Forever,’ it was easy to believe him because just like Omah Lay, most listeners fell in love with the song after their first listen.
When the remix reached number one on TurnTable Top 50, it was further proof of what we already know – that ‘Forever’ is an all-around success. Gyakie is the first female and the first Ghanaian to reach NO.1 on the charts and this feat further opened the door for Nigerian success for new school Ghanaian artists.
Gyakie was able to get the Number one song in Nigeria while still in the university. Her success has allowed the likes of Black Sheriff, Camidoh, Darkoo, and Kelvyn Boy to have lofty dreams of one day enjoying mainstream success in Nigeria.
It created hope that with good music, a young Ghanaian artist can attract wide attention in Nigeria even before ever setting foot in the country. And when Black Sherif did reach number one on TurnTable Top 50 with ‘Kwaku The Traveller’ it was a reminder that Gyakie paved the way.
‘Forever’ remix created a blueprint for how remixes can be used to further push an already successful song into achieving more success. ‘Second Sermon’ remix and ‘Sugarcane’ remix can be considered to have been inspired by Gyakie’s success.
Since she caught the attention of Nigerian listeners, Gyakie has displayed her talent on different singles with the latest being ‘Something’ which is a captivating single that showcases her unique vocals, appealing melody, and impressive writing.
Gyakie might not be the name on the lips of most Nigerian listeners, many of whom might have forgotten just how talented and special she is. However, she deserves to be. She deserves the love and respect that’s accorded to a generational talent who was able to create a song that took over social media and who has displayed the ability to do it again.
With an EP on the way, Gyakie is set to be a beneficiary of the efforts of Ghanaian artists who have helped bridge the gap between Ghanaian and Nigerian music. She’s set to step into the house she helped build and by all means, she deserves it.