Paying tribute to Ghana's rising star who passed way to soon...
February 9th marks the first anniversary of the passing of Ebony Reigns, the tragic result of a road accident between Kumasi and Accra. The 20 year old Ghanaian artist completely changed the music industry back home! She radiated an unapologetic confidence that made many elder people clutch their pearls like, ‘We don’t do things like that here’. (First of all, umm who’s telling...)
But seriously, regardless of whether you agreed with her methods, Ebony exuded an innate drive to use the tools she was handed to dig herself out of her circumstances and shatter ceilings -by any means necessary. And for life changing moments, like her hit ‘Poison’ going number one, she gives up thanks to God. If you don’t understand the lyrics don’t worry, I don’t either with some of it!
The anniversary of her death reminded me of a trip to Cape Coast I took back in November with my cousin. (I’m so annoyed I missed out on the Christmas link up last year, but December 2019 soon come!) Her track ‘Date ur Fada’ was playing in the car on our way to the castles, and we joked about the raw hyperbole of the song. It’s a warning that takes the notion of ‘I’ll love you, but try me if you want to’ to new levels!
Her music showed us that young women are multi-faceted beings with songs like Hustle and ‘Maame Hw3’, where when leaving a toxic relationship she remembers the lessons her mother taught her, finally understanding. Or even with ‘Sponsor’, which could basically provide the musical soundtrack to one of Oloni’s twitter threads. Ebony did all this with a flair that meant she outshone most of the feature artists on her tracks (no offence intended, but let’s be honest here…). And her music put a spotlight on the side of Ghanaian society that is intent on breaking all the rules!
Though she sings in a language you might not understand, or you have reservations because of your opinions on her perceived lifestyle, the fact is, she made bangers. It’s just that simple.
So to mark her first anniversary I’ve put together some of my favourite Ebony songs. Some make you want to go to a hall party and dance with your mum and others are strictly for you and your girls!
Ebony adopted a dancehall sound which instead of feeling forced; she wore comfortably like a tailored coat, while still staying true to her Ashanti roots. Her seamless duality showed we’re all influenced by each other in some way or another. It also shines a light on the presence of the Jamaican community in Accra, I recently even found out that Rita Marley lives out there! In some ways it’s a cultural melting pot, which has produced home-grown artists like Stonebwoy and Shatta Wale.
Now, I know a few people out here probably don’t like African musicians taking on the Caribbean sound, which is fair enough. We are all entitled to our opinions (unless you voted for Brexit, then in that case you clearly can’t be trusted…) But when it comes to these Ghanaian artists, I feel like it’s more of a cultural appreciation. I know I’m obviously biased here, but it shows an understanding of a people that we actually have a lot deep rooted similarities with, but they’ve just manifested in different ways because of geographical separation. Besides, they say imitation is the highest form of flattery right?
It really would have been amazing to see what Ebony might have grown and evolved into. Where would her perspective be if her music had longer to mature? What stories would she have to tell? Either way, she made an impact in the little time she was here. And I hope young people and aunties alike continue turning up to her music, making sure her legacy lives on.
Listen to our short Spotify Playlist here!