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Daddy Lumba, the King of Everything

Daddy Lumba is anything but a strait jacket; he has muddied between the gospel and circular scene, circumventing between great Highlife and gospel spells, a feat many deem as polarizing.

Think about the best love songs to come from Ghana. Think innuendos and sarcasm in music, think lyrics that became parlance, think love, think sorrow, think enjoyment, or even hardship. Daddy Lumba has at least one popular song for any of these themes.

Think Menya Mpo, Sika, Dangerous, Aben Wo Ha, Mensei Da, 111666, Makra Mo, Poison…… The catalogue is huge, and the talent is immense. Daddy Lumba is the king of everything. What has made him phenomenal is his otherworldly voice and command of language, changing and creating language with a snap.

With more than 35 years of greatness, it is no wonder he is considered one of the greatest musicians to come from Ghana. But in an era where Afrobeats and Amapiano are reigning supreme, does Charles Kwadwo Fosu still tick the box?

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His latest release, Gyama Abɔ Woso is Daddy Lumba at his insinuating best. Gyama Abɔ Woso as a phrase has so much to unpack. It could mean a thousand things, and the innuendos it carries have become characteristic of Daddy Lumba. His ability to coin new terms that quickly become imbued in the local parlance is amazing. Over the last four decades, Lumba has stayed relevant and in tune with the times, either through collaborating with the artists of the moment, creating banger political campaign songs or relying on his deep catalogue to provide mesmerizing performances show after show.

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For somebody 35 years deep into a career to still be this revered is unheard of.

Lumba came onto the music scene in an era when our Highlife was just changing. Burger Highlife was quickly becoming the thing. Burger Highlife is a subgenre of Highlife and describes the Highlife music Africans particularly Ghanaians who had moved to Germany (Hamburg, Berlin, Düsseldorf) made. The major difference was in the instruments used in recording the music; synthesizers had only been introduced and were available in Europe. Highlife before then was mostly recorded with live instruments. Although the production was not as good as today or even elsewhere within the same period, it made the music somewhat more danceable. In the discos in Ghana, Burger Highlife became the go-to music.

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Almost four decades in, how will the veteran’s album sound in 2024? His last album is from 2016 and follows up on a gospel album with Kwadwo Ampong from the previous year.

Daddy Lumba is anything but a strait jacket; he has muddied between the gospel and circular scene, circumventing between great Highlife and gospel spells, a feat many deem as polarizing. If Gyama Abɔ Woso is anything to go by, we should get another Highlife masterpiece.

Gyama Abɔ Woso currently has over 20k streams on Audiomack since it came out about three weeks ago. On Spotify, the number is below 5k, but it is on YouTube that he is enjoying the most success with over 160k views. Do the underwhelming numbers reflect the times and audience? Daddy Lumba is still played on our radio stations to date, and with his radio station, DL FM on the Ghanaian airwaves, his music will always have a home.

Whether we get another Aben wo ha, Poison or something that will just come and go, Daddy Lumba has cemented his place in Ghana’s music industry forever. Eras come and go, but Daddy Lumba’s music stands supreme.

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