The top Ghanaian albums of 2020, which mostly arrived in the last quarter of the year, highlight an impressive mix of renowned and new voices ready to take up the reins. They also reveal an exciting variety of influences that begin with highlife and traverse Afropop, reggae-dancehall, hip hop and gospel.
It is imperitive to note that the year saw albums from neither Ghanaian-renowned musicians Shatta Wale nor Sarkodie. The former delayed his album due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while the latter’s decision was to allow enough time between his last album Black Love and a new one.
Overall, the COVID-19 crisis notwithstanding, the country’s music scene maintained a bubbly outlook, with many artists turning to virtual concerts and a radical streak of single releases across digital music platforms.
Son of Africa by Kuami Eugene
Because Ghana is widely deemed a cornerstone of Afrobeats, it is unsurprising that albums from the country which lean toward the African dance genre have secured the most impact. Kuami Eugene’s sophomore LP Son of Africa taking the lead in this regard. Released in October, the project, overflowing with commercial hits and big-name collaborations, crowned a historic year for the artist, who is the current VGMAs Artist of the Year.
Kpanlogo by Darkovibes
Darkovibes’ Kpanlogo is another album worth mentioning. On the project, the musician, who shot to fame as lead singer for Afro-trap collective La Meme Gang, serves a unique combination of the traditional sounds that constitute the core of the West African sound and freshly popular urban influences. ‘Inna Song (Gin & Lime)’, the album’s most successful single, typifies the sonic vision of the project. Featuring colleague King Promise, the record, which is Apple Music’s highest performing Ghanaian song, is built around passionate singing, smooth highlife references, sweet strings and bold bass layout. Meanwhile, Kpanlogo also positioned Darkovibes as a relevant pop draughtsman.
Anloga Junction by Stonebwoy
To achieve pop prominence in Ghana, one must include dance-ready rhythms in his work. While that method may be criticised by purists as being too populist, it is also a route that has produced results. Thus, Stonebwoy’s Anloga Junction may be described as a reggae-dancehall album, but it also caters well to Afropop, thanks to songs like the Zlatan-assisted ‘Critical’ and ‘Everlasting’. Also replete with infectious hooks and melodies, as well as sought-after guests including US R&B star Keri Hilson, South Africa’s Nasty C and Tanzania’s Diamond Platinumz, the LP has gone on to rake in millions of streams and clinched the title as the country’s biggest album this year.
Black Star by Kelvyn Boy
With Black Star, Kelvyn Boy takes a cue from former mentor Stonebwoy, choosing fusion over strictly dancehall, the style with which he made his foray into the industry. Self-styled as the ‘Afrobeats bad man’, the musician taps from multiple influences to whip up a colourful body of work that also adds to the list of groundbreaking Ghanaian debut albums.
10 Am by Strongman
2020 was also a big year for rap, with Strongman among its leaders. The former Sarkodie protege crowned an eventful 2020 with 10 AM. The project predominantly hip hop and featuring Medikal, Wendy Shay and KelvynBoy, among others, follows 2018’s STN EP.
BRA by Flowking Stone
In classic hip hop fashion, rapper Flowking Stone has constantly insisted that he’s indispensable in conversations about lyrical ingenuity in Ghana and beyond. This year, to back that assertion, he issued ‘BRA’, which stands for Best Rapper Africa.
Araba by Adina
After many years of successful single releases, Adina’s eponymous debut LP Araba tided ashore. A remarkable testament to her vocal prowess and connection to heritage, the 10-track album pays homage to highlife but also draws from R&B, reggae and Afropop. It also features a single guest artist in KiDi.
Agoo by Yaa Yaa
Like Adina, Yaa Yaa submitted her first full-length about a decade after first bursting into the mainstream. Agoo comprises nine songs and finds the singer and multi-instrumentalist experiment with everything from highlife, Afro-pop, Neo-soul, Afro-soul, pop and jazz.
The Angel You Don’t Know by Amaarae
Fearless and infinitely gifted, Amaarae caused a great splash with her long-awaited debut LP The Angel You Don’t Know. Selecting from alternative R&B, rock, and hip hop, among others, the singer navigates dark and saucy themes in a process she describes as “non-stop affirmations and incantations for bad bitches.”
Healing Stream by Eric Jeshrun
This year also saw Gospel singer Eric Jeshrun (formerly going by Jeshrun Okyere) release his debut album Healing Stream. The project was heralded by ‘You Reign’, which features Joe Mettle. Jeshurun said his goal for the song is to “comfort and encourage the people of Africa and the rest of the world not to give up in these times” while reminding believers of God’s sovereignty.”
The Experience by MOG Music
MOG Music’s 2020 album The Experience comprises songs that were recorded live at his New Wine worship concert back in March. The 8-track project boasts soothing worship hymns and uplifting praise medleys. A heavily collaborative album, The Experience also benefits from contributions from artists in other genres, projecting a symbolic message of harmony within the music landscape.