There’s something elegantly festive about an ocean of white tops swaying to beloved melody in a space which accommodates about 6000, but at the same time, curates the nostalgic rapport of a family reunion. There’s something elegantly festive about a crowd that understands and fully submits to party command. It is what Accra-based Citi FM gave us last night –it is what they give us every Christmas eve.
Running since 2007, the station’s annual white top and jeans Christmas party Decemba To Rememba (D2R) made a majestic return yesterday, December 24 at the Accra International Conference Center. Compered by the stations on-air gems Jessica and Osei Kwame, with music from the seasoned DJ Armani, the highly anticipated concert paraded a delightful list of top contemporary Ghanaian and Nigerian performers including Okyeame Kwame, Guru, Dee Aja, Vision DJ and A.I, Article Wan, Nii Funny, Joey B, and reigning VGMA Artist of the Year E.L.
With music concerts everywhere, the opening act holds perhaps equal potency as the closing act –at least, it is what I firmly believe. For the night, Kakai hitmaker Shatta Wale was obvious closing act -in the past five years or so, placing him anywhere else has proven to be a fatal error, as three-quarters of an audience vanishes with him when he’s done with his act. We’ll come to that in time, I promise you, but let’s talk about Okyeame Kwame, the first of the advertised performers for the night.
Fresh from his trip to the United States, Okyeame Kwame (born Kwame Nsiah –Appau), was entrusted with the weighty task of setting the show off. But Okyeame is a veteran at this, let’s not forget –he has had the art of performing on his cuticles since he teamed up with Okyeame Quophi to form Akyeame. In 1997. Their Brebre Obaahema (ft. Root Eye) is a bona fide GH classic, and their subsequent Nkonsonkonson (their debut album) is a hip-hop model without doubt.
And so his work on stage, while it’s brilliant, might not be entirely surprising. Backed by in DJ and facing a people in love with his words and braced for a party, he went right to it. Starting off with numbers as member of the Akyeame duo, and rounding up with some of his equally widespread current tracks, he did set the party off right; tuning the emotion of the audience to uptimum party mode. From then on, it was clear this wouldn’t be a sitting-down event.
Compered by on-air gems Jesica Opare Saforo and Osei Kwame of “Brunch in the Citi”, #D2R2016 will also be remembered for personnel at the helm of matters –because first of all, the station has over the years, distinguished itself as a leader in delivering “relevant radio always”. The quality of their flagship “Citi Breakfast Show” (led by seasoned broadcaster Bernard Avle), together with others in entertainment, culture, technology, and sports, has catapulted them into a superior agenda-setting latitude, which they execute expertly. Their events are just as talked about as their programming: The Heritage Caravan/ Heritage Series, Citi Business Olympics, MOGO (Music of Ghanaian Origin) Concert/ Awards and so on.
Last night also saw astounding coordination and excellent technical and security detail. There’s a case to be made for world- class event planning and execution. Two words: Citi FM.
Decemba 2 Rememba has in the time that it has been around, enjoyed praise for how meticulously it is put together, and how it traps the merrymaking atmosphere aptly, but is also notorious for providing a specific stage for “scandal to remember” …errrrm, usually of a sexual nature. It is not the doing of organizers (artists are artists, and can do bad all by themselves), but it is a detail we mischievously associate with the night –and so a 2012 wardrobe malfunction involving singer Raquel pops to mind. And then last night’s edition marks exactly a year since we came to know if singer Wisa’s other capabilities/ deficiencies depending on what angle you’re observing things from. What was this year’s addition? Nothing! Only and precisely in that regard, the event was a “flop”.
Osei Kwame’s mettle as a radio host is unchallenged; his years at Atlantis Radio and Citi FM bear him witness, but is also earning credit as a formidable master of ceremonies, especially with his performance last night. The telepathy between him and co-host Jessica on stage was perfectly seamless, inadvertently revealing a comradery that transcends rehearsal time, and that is good for flow. There is very little to say about Jessica, who is quite the humour merchant herself. She’s a goddess with these things. Finished!
There’s something about the D2R stage chale. These artists treat it like an audition, only serving their best stuff. Nii Funny, Article Wan, Joey B, E.L, A.I, Dee Aja all delivered a-class performances, sparking deafening roars from the packed venue (NB: Guru’s exclusion from the above list is deliberate. I think I speak for many who were present last night that there are expectations we have about an artist of his stature, and we won’t accept a below-par performance, especially as he has such an impressive repertoire, but let’s move on to more positive thought).
There’s always a theatrical angle to Broken Heart singer Nii Funny’s sets. It is a quality that is lacking among many of this generation’s performers. The fact that his team insists on that is laudable. Technically, Broken Heart is his biggest work so far (though he has released decent anthems subsequently). What makes him a hot cake in my estimation, is his approach to a performance. Though it’s the same song, he performs it a different way every time, and that cannot easily be gotten used to.
The same can be said for colleague Article Wan and his Solo. Once a song covers ground in coastal hotspots as Jamestown, Labadi, Teshie and Nungua, you know the rest of the city is ready for it: Broken Heart, Leebi Tso, Ekiiki Mi, Dormi Tamor Sorng… You would think that Article Wan’s Solo came from nowhere, but it has made extensive rounds on the streets, and earned verification. The served as launchpad to all the acclaim he’s getting this year. Like Nii Funny, he too rides on the wave of Solo, and is determned on milking it in as many ways as are possible (days ago, he released a remix version featuring Stonebwoy). How do you achieve new life with every performance? He opts for the power of skillful buttocks in motion…and he pulls it off. Onaapo singer Dee Aja is compliant to hat logic too –placing a high premium on stagecraft.
It is possible though, when you have put in endless work, to sit back and let the songs do the talking for you. Joey B and E.L’s set, Vision DJ and A.I’s, and most of all, Shatta Wale’s turn on stage typify this. Joey B and E.L have two of the most popular songs this year, You & Me and Kaa Bu Ame respectively (more if you push it back a couple of years), Vision DJ and A.I’s Grind has also witnessed wide traction since its release on July 7. It has seen them booked for virtually every top show this month, and when they step on stage, the audience takes over the performance.
The spill-over effects of Shatta Wale’s exploits last year have been abundant even till now. He has delivered hits this year, no doubt, but a bulk of his songs from last year have far lived beyond last year: Mahama Paper, Chop Kiss, Talk Talk etc. His power has risen rapidly over the year, and so even if he strips down his set to just a red bandana over his head and DJ Vyrusky on the turntables (like he did last night), he kills it. Those sixty minutes saw the quintessential sustained deafening cheers and chants of “Wale, Wale”, that only he seemingly can ignite.
We are a people who are deeply invested in humor. It is one way we try to make sense of this town…and so, it takes only a second for good humour material to go viral: “Two Toozin’, “Kpa kpa kpa”, “I can’t think far”, “Malafaka”. The local stand-up scene is also swarming with young talent, and patrons were treated to some of the best viral videos (mainly used as fillers), and performances from emerging comedian Khemikal and Nigeria’s Hogan.
There’s a reason Decemba 2 Rememba is widely regarded as the official Christmas party. What a show! What a crowd!