Kenneth Darko: Amaarae and Worlasi’s 3Music accolades open the floodgates for ‘misfit’ genres – and it’s a big win

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Let me be honest, I caught the 3Music Awards ceremony halfway through the event. I had closed late from work and was responding to mails and WhatsApp messages at a local pub in Osu with a colleague.

One of the new messages that popped up interrupted my train of activities, but it was a short and straight-to-the-point message so I figured, why not read it and get it over with.

It read; “Worlasi ooo,” it was a friend prompting me about the ‘Comot’ singer’s victory in the newly-introduced Best Alternative Music category on the night of March 27.

About an hour after that, I was home and up to speed with the awards received so far. Two of the awardees particularly stood out for me – Worlasi and Amaarae. My reason being the non-traditional nature of the craft they process, Alternative Music.

 Merriam-Webster describes this category as music that is produced by performers who are outside the musical mainstream, that is typically regarded as more eclectic, original, or challenging than most popular music, and that is often distributed by independent record labels.

This has been a genre that many stakeholders in Ghana have struggled to contextualize when it comes to rewarding hard work during their review of each passing year.

Finally, the line-up for 2021 3Music Award nominees reflected this, as names that had been ignored in major schemes on the mere basis of their inability to fit in the existing boxes, finally came to the fore through the genre’s introduction.

They were, Adomaa, Worlasi [Winner], Yaayaa, Amaarae, Pure Akan, Santrofi, FRA, Jean Feier, Paapa and Super Jazz Club.

Among many Ghanaians, the Alternative Music landscape remains a space that is yet to be fully utilised because some have argued that making music without financial returns defeats the purpose of showbusiness.

This reason is mostly justified by the unwillingness of major record labels in Ghana to bank their fortunes in a venture with such low patronage in the West African country.

These types of music are seen as rebellious in many forms, pushing a narrative of confronting status quos of the sound as it is known, defying trends and presenting varied ways to breakthrough the showbiz industry.

Let me casually throw in some projects that have turned musical heads in the ranks of some of Ghana’s most attentive audience – but are yet to make similar impact in the pop scene.

‘For My Brothers’ by Ko-jo Cue, Bryan The Mensah’s ‘Not Going Outside’, Marince Omario’s Oblitey and Asi Renie’s Chapter V.