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We Don’t Need Awards: The Tantrums of the Overlooked Ghanaian Musician

Year after Year, the allegations made about the award scheme grow bigger, fuelled by the pains of the overlooked artiste who did not win an award after securing several nominations.

The Ghana Music Awards was once a highly regarded event that recognized talented and hardworking musicians in the country. Ghanaian music fans were incredibly excited to either attend or watch the Ghana Music Awards on television. For most Ghanaian artistes, winning multiple Ghana Music awards is a career goal they strived for.

It validated their position in a fiercely competitive and cutthroat industry.

Beneath the excitement surrounding the show is the frustration of dedicated artists who are frequently overlooked for unclear reasons. This has raised doubts about the criteria used for bestowing accolades and the dynamics of recognition in Ghanaian music.

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Year after Year, the allegations made about the award scheme grow bigger, fuelled by the pains of the overlooked artiste who did not win an award after securing several nominations. While nominations mean the artist is one step closer to winning the award, they may also mean nothing, especially if he or she fails to win even one award despite receiving multiple nominations.

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Of course, nominations do not guarantee a win for any artiste. At the end of the day, the votes from the academy and the public decide the ultimate winners. Artistes hardly remember this.

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Sooner or later the complaints of snubbed artistes transcend into pent-up resentment, which will in turn give birth to the “we don’t need awards” replies whenever they are queried about nominations and awards.

Why should an artist who has spent time, energy, sweat, and money creating singles or albums openly declare that he or she does not require awards to validate their work?  Is it a facade put up by Ghanaian artistes to hide their disappointment at not winning awards? Do they truly have no need for the award, or is it a subtle message aimed at the award organisers to call their credibility into question?

Several examples can be cited of different artistes who have expressed their displeasure at the award scheme. In most cases, their music was either not nominated in any category or in other situations, they did not get nominated at all. It gets even worse when they do not win.

But here’s a breakdown of why their concerns “MAY” be valid.

Ghanaian rapper Guru, who has churned out many hits, has not won any Ghana Music Award since the inception of his music career. His 2011 hit single “Lapaz Toyota,” which was influenced by Azonto sounds, topped Ghana’s music charts for weeks. Politicians used it in their campaigns, and it was featured in the Big Brother Africa finale. Although he was nominated, he was not awarded.  He was also nominated in six different categories in 2013 yet he couldn’t take any of the awards home.  He finally stopped submitting his songs for nomination to the Awards board.

In an interview with Delay, Pappy Kojo boldly confessed that he slipped into depression after he didn’t win any award in 2O16.  The Fante rapper said he deserved an award because he had worked hard in the year under review even though he was a newcomer.  He was nominated in the following categories: Hip Hop/Hip Life Artiste of the Year,  Best Collaboration of the Year ( Aye Late ft Sarkodie), Best Rapper of the Year and Hip Hop Song of the Year.

Medikal was nominated seven times in 2017 in the following categories: Artiste of the Year, Collaboration of the Year(Confirm remix ft Sarkodie), Best New Artiste/ Discovery of the Year, Best Rapper of the Year,  Hiphop/Hiplife Artiste of the year, Hiphop song of the year, Afropop Song of the Year(Too Risky ft Sista Derby). However, Medikal could not secure a single award.

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The newest sensation, King Promise, was snubbed continuously despite earning nominations in previous editions. However, he has been nominated for the Artiste of the Year this year after releasing his worldwide hit single “Terminator”. Hopefully, he wins this time.

There were other instances where an artiste nominated in a particular category felt they were going home with an award that night only for their feelings to get crushed when the award was given to another artiste whom no one expected to win. Shatta Wale, the self-proclaimed dancehall king, was furious when Kaakie won the Reggae Dance Hall Song of the Year award at the 2013 Ghana Music Awards. The decision generated a rift that led to him releasing profane songs aimed at Charterhouse, the organisers of the award scheme. In one of the songs titled “Letter to Charterhouse,” Shatta Wale bluntly stated that he does not need the award even though in the initial stages, he was yearning and fighting for it. The bad blood persisted in subsequent years, with the organisers suing him at one point before he withdrew from submitting his songs for nominations, publicly stating that he did not want any award or recognition from the Ghana Music Awards because the award scheme was not credible enough.

This takes us back to 2018 when Patapa also got infuriated after Fancy Gadam won the Song of the Year award with “Total Cheat” over his “One Corner” song.  The former claimed that his song was a nationally recognised hit, whereas the latter’s song was unknown. The two artistes began to trade insults at each other in the days that followed.

Up next is Sista Afia, who queried the award scheme concerning their inability to nominate her year after year. It was sad to see the talented songstress on social media asking if she had done anything to the board members to warrant the constant snub.

Last but not least, Wiyaala, a singer and songwriter who performs in her native dialect (Sissala and Walaa), claims that the award scheme favours other undeserving acts over her, because they do not understand her lyrics which are heavily infused with her mother tongue. This left her with no choice but to stop filing nominations.  In the previous years, she also alleged that the awards are mainly given to Accra-based artistes.

There have been rumours about some industry gatekeepers who also serve on the board of the award scheme. As a result, they always vouch for their favourites to win awards, even if they do not deserve them. These are but a few instances that breed the “we don’t need awards” tactics employed by some Ghanaian artistes since their efforts are not appreciated. When was the last time you saw a M.anifest nomination? What about a Worlasi nomination? Or an Ayatt Kirani nomination? All these names have slightly discredited the need for the most sought-after plaque in the Ghanaian music industry.  Other despaired artistes who felt they were deliberately being marginalised, sought solace in the fact that the lack of awards would not mar their artistic legacy. Some artistes eventually stop producing good songs and completely disappear from the music industry.

If the indiscriminate snubbing continues, many Ghanaian artistes will abandon the “every dog has its day” attitude and join the resentment bandwagon. This decision will kill the buzz surrounding award shows in the music industry because artistes are no longer interested in receiving awards.

Awards do not define the talent or legacy of an artiste even though they serve as a way of motivating artistes. Some of the greatest artistes who have performed and written songs that have touched people all over the world lacked certain accolades. Bob Marley, despite his popularity and conscious reggae songs, has never won a Grammy. Sia, the “titanium” hitmaker, has never won a Grammy, and neither has Tupac Shakur, Brian McKnight, Diana Ross, Backstreet Boys, or Nicki Minaj.  All of these artists received nominations but did not win the Grammy award.  Their disappointment did not prevent them from producing timeless records.

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