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B.A.R. II: Proof that Hip Hop is alive in Ghana

A contribution by Mame Afia      

   29th August 2015 marked rapper E.L’s second annual B.A.R Concert. It was at the World Trade Centre, Accra which was a change in scenery from last year’s concert [at Alliance Française d’Accra]. The set-up transformed the hall because, honestly, when I saw it previously without the stage and props, I wondered how BBnZ was going to pull it off, but they did. It is a beautiful space, though not so large, and, unlike last year’s concert, the show was inside, so there were no threats from Mother Nature.

Photo: @S_tage (via iphone)        

 The tickets went from GHC 20 [Regular], GHC 25 [VIP Standing] and GHC 30 [VIP Seating]. My friend asked me why someone wouldn’t just pay the extra GHC 5 to sit down but you know, that’s neither here nor there. The audience arrangements were such that the VIPs were closest to the stage, while the Regulars [for lack of a better word] had to stand on the balconies of the 2nd & 3rd floor. Some say they had a better view, but I disagree. I mean, who doesn’t want to be that close to the stage to see everything?

           The show was supposed to start at 7 pm but you know, this is Ghana. Has anything ever started on time? I was there at about 7:30 and there were some people already there [I was actually surprised] but not that many. The show ended up starting at about 9:02 and, though I do not remember the order of the acts, a few in particular stood out for various reasons.

           The first artist I remember was one called Haywaya, I believe. He stood out because he was rapping in Hausa and I found that quite refreshing from the usual English, Ga, Twi, Pidgin rap we usually hear. A few others like Imperial came out in winter coats and scarves and I couldn’t particularly enjoy their set because it all seemed gimmicky to me and I couldn’t take them seriously. VVIP came out and did a few throwbacks, including some Reggie Rockstone classics and they ended their set with their latest single “Skolom” that had the entire audience on their feet. Might I add that Reggie Rockstone looks reaaaalllllyyyy good for his age?

           At the top of every hour, the acts would stop and DJ Mic Smith would play some songs [for roughly 15 minutes] to get the crowd moving. To be honest, he helped with the show because he gave the audience something to look forward to after some unfamiliar acts.

           At 1am, the man of the hour appeared. A vision in white, E.L came on the stage preceded by an intro that shut off all the lights and left the spot light on him. 

Photo: Author

The first song he performed was “Boorle”, a song that was actually on his first B.A.R Mixtape. I must say that he performs with such energy that it had everyone on their feet. He was engaging, even to the audience that was above him. He used the stage efficiently, even though it wasn’t a large stage. He never stood in one position too long and interacted with the crowd, long enough to leave them wanting more.

           His second song was “This Is Crazy Chale” from the second B.A.R mixtape and after that, he introduced himself to new and old fans alike, a little touch that I found endearing. To hype the crowd a little more, he performed a few songs from last year’s mixtape and, after a while, he was joined on set by Kojo-Cue whose fan base is steadily growing. While E.L went backstage for a wardrobe change, Kojo-Cue rocked the stage with his hits like “Lavender” and “Low Key”.

           Now, for the highlight of the entire night. This is the one performance that  blew everyone away. E.L brought Pappy Kojo and Joey B on stage for a fire performance of “All Black”. The performance was so great that the energy was tangible. One of the best live performances I’ve ever seen, hands down. Amidst champagne showers and pyrotechnics, the artists clearly enjoyed the performance as much as the audience did. Even Twitter’s own DeezyDoThis came on stage to perform “Segbefia” with the “All Black” trio.

Photo: Author          

 Now for the downside: acoustics. Personally, I think the acoustics served as a great disadvantage to the opening acts because, for those of us who had never heard of them, we couldn’t vibe with the songs solely because we couldn’t hear them properly. If I couldn’t her them on the ground-floor, those on the balcony definitely couldn’t either. And since we couldn’t hear them properly, there was no appropriate feedback for them.

Photo: @S_tage (via iphone)              

Overall though, I thought it was a great concert. I love how Ghana-centric the concert was. The music was great and even though some of the performers were unknown [to me] they were all very interactive with the audience. Even though they weren’t the headlining act, they gave it their all. Kudos to all the performers. Also, I’m going to need BBnZ and E.L to do this every year.

 Accra We Dey

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