2016 VGMA nominations list is an insult to artistry

This year’s Vodafone Ghana Music Awards will be a disaster, and if Charterhouse really respects Ghanaian artistes and music consumers, they should call the ceremony off and re-organise it or  they will lose their last drop of credibility. Pulse music editor David Mawuli looks at everything that has gone wrong with the awards so far, and how they can be salvaged.


The annual Ghana Music Awards has generated a lot of controversies over the years. From undeserving nominees to winners, the award scheme and its nominations board’s activities have raised storms and been chastised by music critics for several reasons.

It’s either categorisation problems or bribery allegations.

It’s either some artistes nominated in wrong categories or Charterhouse PR, George Quaye, publicly make sarcastic remarks on pressing issues.

First of all, I would like to commend Charterhouse Ghana, the main organisers of the annual award ceremony for organising the (not always successful) event for the past 17 years. But, the fact that they have refused to utilise their many years’ experience to correct the same old errors and turned deaf ears to facts by Ghanaians is daunting and contentious.

Allowing a group of artiste managers and so-called music experts to sit in communion, go over certain secret metrics, yardsticks, and criteria when the category definitions are out to the public, before they even announce the nominees is first of all an insult to artistry and secondly disrespect to consumers of Ghana music.

They keep repeating the same old mistakes but this year’s errors have been worse.

If Charterhouse really respects Ghanaian artistes and music consumers, they should call the ceremony off and re-organise it or  they will lose their last drop of credibility and probably record the least attended event in their history.

So far, we have seen major issues for this year’s awards, including:

Shatta Wale’s disqualification

The Dancehall musician was precluded from taking part in this year’s ceremony after he vehemently criticised the non-performing board years ago. I agree with President Obour saying that the industry has rules that govern every institution and if you break them you are likely to face sanctions.

But the question that boggles my mind is about Charterhouse’s rules. Are they so austere or no-nonsense that artistes should shut up on any illogical decision taken by the board? Artistes shouldn’t have a say in any of the board dealings because they have the power to ban them from the award ceremony?

C’mon! Kanye West disses the Grammys’ board, yet he is among the top artistes with the highest Grammy accolades. He has 20 Grammys so far. Artistes have every right to speak on the awards scheme when they see things going wrong.

Mr Eazi’s disqualification based on pure discrimination

Mr Eazi was undoubtedly one of the best artistes in the year under review. He produced at least two hit tracks namely “Skin Tight” featuring Efya and “Bankulize” featuring Pappy Kojo. He performed on several big stages and captured the hearts of Ghanaians. His songs are purely Ghanaian and it will be hard for you to tell by his songs he is Nigerian.

But why his disqualification? According to George Quaye, who speaks on behalf of Charterhouse, Mr Eazi isn’t a Ghanaian and as a result, he was disqualified. Imagine the US music industry say Drake, Justin Bieber, Rihanna or Nicki Minaj are not nationals so they won’t nominate them for any American awards. And aside that, if they claim he wasn’t eligible for the Ghanaian categories, how about the non-Ghanaian category –  “Best African Act”? Pity!

TeePhlow’s ineffaceable mess created by the board

What do you expect when an award nominations’ board is full of artiste managers? I understand that Last 2 record label owner, Hammer, who is also the manager of upcoming rapper, TeePhlow, is on the board so what else do you expect? He gave TeePhlow four undeserving nominations (“Best New Act”, “Best Rapper”, “Best Hip-hop Song of the Year” and “Best Music Video”) for his expired Hip-hop song called “The Warning” featuring Sarkodie.

But thanks to social media, the song was immediately googled and when results showed that it was released in April 2014 (which makes it invalid for the award) the board quickly revoked three nominations leaving one.

Even the one, which is the “Best Video of the Year” isn’t fit for the category. How can a video with no storyline and shot in a studio set up get an award nomination? Is that video better than VVIP’s“Dogo Yaro” featuring Samini or Church Why’s“Survivor” featuring Jupitar or Sarkodie’s“Mewu” featuring Akwaboah? Which of the effects used in the video is new to us? This is more insulting – a nomination based on pure coercion.

Categorisation issues

The board fell short again after last year’s categorisation flop. The board still finds it difficult to know which songs fit a certain category. Perhaps, the board didn’t nominate the songs based on submissions by the artistes and managers.

What generated more heat was the fact that, Pappy Kojo’s“Ay3 Late” was nominated in the “Hip-hop Song of the Year” category and was selected ahead of Sarkodie’s“New Guy” featuring Ace Hood.

And when did E.L’s Afro-pop track titled “Koko” become a hip-life song? Also, when did MzVee’s Afro-pop song called “Hold Me Now” become a Reggae or Dancehall song? Even if it has Dancehall rhythms, it doesn’t make it a complete Dancehall song. We can only describe it as an Afro-dancehall/Afro-pop. I sometimes wonder what the board is made of.

Atom, MzVee, Donzy and Adina’s undeserving nominations

Atom doesn’t deserve any nomination at this year’s VGMAs. How can the board accept and nominate an unoriginal song? Atom’s song “Y3 Wo Krom” which gave him three nominations is actually a sample of Gasmilla’s popular “Telemo” track featuring Capasta.

And the funny thing is, the original producer of Gasmilla’s“Telemo” wasn’t nominated, rather, the one who sampled the track got the nomination.

Atom’s sample of Gasmilla’s“Telemo” is tantamount to plagiarism. But the sleeping board went ahead to nominate him in three categories. When did VGMA become the iHeartRadio Music Awards?

Then MzVee’s seven nominations. How come? Because I heard her manager, Richie Mensah, too is on the board so definitely, you expect nothing than obvious cheat.

And come to think of Adina and Donzy’s nominations. Their nominations are just based on favouritism or probably paid to gain nominations. The most painful thing was the fact that, Wiyaala’s powerful vocal performance on AJ Nelson’s“Power To The People” was ignored by the board and rather chose Adina ahead of her in the “Best Female Vocal Performance” category.

Bisa Kdei’s classic “Brother Brother” track missing

I can’t explain this. It’s rather unfortunate that, classic Highlife tracks like Bisa Kdei’s“Brother Brother” which is produced once in a lifetime was missing in the nominations list. The song is more popular than any other song nominated in the “Vodafone Popular Song of the Year” category but the sleeping board as usual skipped it and rather nominated “Mansa” ahead.

Rex Omar’s nomination

The VGMA board thinks Rex Omar’s verses on his classic simple-guitar Highlife track titled “Paapa” worth the “Songwriter of the Year” award but the song isn’t a “Record of the Year”. The board was bold enough to nominate MzVee’s“Abofra” featuring Efya and Adina’s“Coastal Vibes” featuring Trigmatic over Rex Omar’s“Paapa” in the “Record of the Year” category. Nothing is funnier than this.

Missing names in the nominees list

Following great performances from the likes of Cabum, Wiyaala, Lil Shaker, Dark Suburb and China based Ghanaian gospel singer Bro Philemon in the year under review, most of us expected their presence in the nominations list but NO! Maybe they refused to bribe the board.

Lil Shaker had over three hit tracks, performed on top stages and released a 16-track album in the year under review but his name was missing.

Cabum dropped at least a hit track last year and made Aka Blay’s“Take Away” successful but his name wasn’t even seen on the “Unsung” category. Wiyaala’s excellent vocal touch on AJ Nelson’s“Power To The People” wasn’t heard nor seen by any of the board members. Dark Suburb and Bro Philemon dropped two successful tracks but their names were missing. That’s unfair.

Artistes stay awake throughout the night, sleep in recording studios like they have no bed to lie on, and perform on stages even when their knees feel weak. And if a certain group of people sit in one secret room and open their pockets like a church’s offering bowl to decide who deserves an award, it’s insult to artistes, their works and consumers.

The way forward

The solution is just simple. Chaterhouse should employ well informed music experts not some old men who are perceived to be experienced and so-called experts. NO artiste manager should be allowed to join the board. Music bloggers and entertainment writers should be employed on the board to check song’s validity in order to prevent TeePhlow’s gigantic error from happening in the future.

Ghana Music Awards is all we have, thus, we must treat it with respect and due diligence!

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