Opinion

NO ‘CHALLENGER’! Sarkodie Is VGMA Artiste of the Decade

By Arnold Asamaoh-Baidoo

10 years of dominance

In 2009, as part of the 10th Anniversary of the Ghana Music Awards, Charterhouse, organizers of the scheme, together with the Board of the awards, set up a special category, ‘Artiste of the Decade’ – to celebrate that personality that had stayed relevant and consistent for that duration, with some special emphasis to the Music Awards. One legend, Kojo Antwi beat another luminary, Daddy Lumba to that prize.

Another decade is upon us and once again, in commemoration of the 20th edition of the most popular music awards scheme in Ghana, the ‘Artiste of the Decade’ category is back in the fray and tense arguments have already commenced on who deserves the honour.

Okyeame Kwame, Efya, Becca, R2Bees, No Tribe & Nacee, Stonebwoy, Samini, Sarkodie and Shatta Wale are vying for the title.

The definition for ‘Artiste of the Decade’ is; ‘Artiste adjudged by the Academy and the Board as the Artiste(s) with the highest audience appeal and popularity over the last decade. The Artiste must have released a hit single/album within the last 10 years.’

Last week, Efya, one of the contenders, came out publicly to justify her inclusion in that category and was audacious enough to claim that she deserves to win.

In all honesty, Efya’s inclusion is highly justified and she has every right to make a claim for the honour – considering the fact that, she is the record holder with the highest number of wins for ‘Female Vocal Performance’ category; 5 times and 4 consecutive runs from 2011 to 2014.

However, I have the strongest conviction, based on the criteria and proceedings in the last decade, that Sarkodie is the VGMA Artiste of the Decade.

Relevance

Sarkodie is the most decorated Ghanaian artiste of all time; which means, he is the Ghanaian artiste with the most nominations and awards in the history of Ghanaian music. Let me break it down; since the civilization of Ghanaian music, he has thus far, notched over 140 nominations in various award schemes across the world, winning over 80 of them, in a spate of 10 years.

Since his emergence in the industry in 2009, with the release of his debut album, ‘Maky3’ – Sarkodie has hardly experienced any form of dip in his illustrious and exemplary career. His brand has soared and been solidified as the years have rolled by.

That level of relevance has made him one of the go-to artistes in Ghana and one with such critical mention across Africa and the rest of the world – as he has affected the culture, a generation and the craft. That relevance has ensured that he commands one of the largest following in the music industry, a fan base that is overly dedicated and committed to his cause.

Impressive run from 2009 to 2019

Consistency

In such a higgledy-piggledy music industry like ours, it is quite torrid to remain consistent for 10 years straight, but Sarkodie has been able to achieve that.

No disrespect to his peers in that category, especially the likes of Shatta Wale, Stonebwoy, Samini, Efya and R2Bees who come close somehow to making a shout for that prize.

Arguably, his biggest competitor for the honour, Shatta Wale, found his renaissance in the music industry in 2013, by that time; Sarkodie had already garnered 16 nominations in the Ghana Music Awards, winning 8 awards including the record-setting ‘Artiste of the Year’ in 2010 and 2012 respectively.  During the period, Shatta Wale was frantically trying to figure out how to get back in the limelight by all means necessary.

The album paved the way for greatness

In the 10-year span under consideration, Sarkodie has released 6 albums;  Makye (2009),Rapperholic (2012), .T.I.M.G (With Jayso, 2013), Sarkology (2014), Mary (2015), and Highest (2017); the highest number among his other contenders – and if you know what goes into the production, promotion, marketing and distribution of albums, you would extol the man for his ability to produce these number of chart-topping albums within the duration.

In this 10-year period, has there been any high profile gathering or show with the name of Sarkodie not on the list? Absolutely not! In this period, has there ever been any conversation about the projection of Ghanaian music without the mention of his name? Definitely not!

Another ground-breaking album

Audience Appeal

One of the elements in the category definition is ‘Audience Appeal’ and for the avoidance of doubt, it is only germane we understand what these words mean. According to the Google Dictionary, Audience means; the assembled spectators or listeners at a public event such as a play, concert or meeting. Appeal, according to Cambridge Dictionary means; the quality in someone or something that makes him/her or it is attractive or interesting.

Audience appeal has never been in doubt

Over the years, Sarkodie’s brand has commandeered such a strong appeal and has been alluring to the elite, downtrodden and most importantly, business opportunities.  His appeal transcends the shores of Ghana, making him the Ghanaian with the best international appeal – arguably.

The level of attention he attracts with regards to the music he puts out or whatever subject he posts on his social media handles or any interview he grants, not to mention the sort of fervor and enchantment that greets him wherever he goes – are attestation of the kind of allure he has.

Face of the VGMA

Sarkodie is undoubtedly the face of the Ghana Music Awards and his story is an exhibition and reflection of what the scheme represents. His domination of the awards cannot be overemphasized.

With 58 nominations and 21 awards at the Ghana Music Awards in the last decade, he is the most nominated and holds the record as the artiste with the most awards – and he is expected to win some more come May 18, at the 20th edition of the awards.

Too many VGMA Awards

Incredibly, in the 10-year period, he’s been nominated in the coveted ‘Artiste of the Year’ category for 8 times in the last 10 editions, scoring consecutive nods for 2014, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. What’s more; he is one of just 2 artistes (VIP as the other) to ever annex the ‘Artiste of the Year’ twice, 2010 and 2012.

There’s no shred of doubt, that his impressive showing at the Ghana Music Awards aided his enviable surge unto the international platform, where he’s been mentioned in a plethora of international awards including BET and MTV Europe Music Awards.

There’s more

Public Has No Say In Choice of Winner

Just like the technical-based categories, the ‘Artiste of the Decade’ category is adjudicated by only the Board and the Academy, leaving out another voting block – the General Public.

What this means is that, there will be no attached public sentiments in the voting; nobody is going to win because they command a bigger following or have the better ‘swag’ or possess the finest face.

Members of the Board and Academy, who are said to have expertise in the industry would rely on the criteria definition and attach empirical data or evidence to back their respective choices. There’s no room for error, and as stated with facts, there’s only one artiste that deserves the honour and it is Sarkodie.

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