Ghanaian dancehall singer, Charles Nii Armah Mensah Jr., popularly known as Shatta Wale, has asserted that no Ghanaian artiste is as big as Nigerian singer, Asake.
He stated this in a Twitter space hosted by Ghanaian media personality, Serwaa, on Wednesday. Shatta Wale said,
“No Ghanaian artiste has even made it like Asake. Not even me.”
“Nobody in this Ghanaian (music) industry has made what Asake has made. Let’s be realistic.”
The host inferred:
“But you said you are the richest Ghanaian artiste and you haven’t even made it up to Asake’s level?”
Shatta Wale replied:
“Why would I have to make it up to Asake’s level (before I would be the richest artiste in Ghana)? There is a Spanish artiste in Spain or Dominican Republic that is making money that we don’t know.”
Recall that Shatta Wale recently asserted that the successes of Nigerian musicians have dwarfed the achievements of their Ghanaian counterparts while congratulating Asake for selling out the 20,000-capacity O2 Arena in London, United Kingdom.
There is much at stake for Asake’s return to London tonight. Outside, the police approach attendees, inquiring whether they were present at the Nigerian Afrobeats superstar’s Brixton show last December, which tragically resulted in a fatal crush that claimed the lives of Gaby Hutchinson and Rebecca Ikumelo. The attendees are asked if they would be willing to provide evidence as the events of that night are still under investigation. This serves as a stark reminder that the incident remains an ongoing matter. With the wisdom of his arguably premature return to London already under scrutiny, Asake faces the task of being tactful and making an impact, riding on the success of his critically acclaimed new album, the sonically rich and hook-laden “Work of Art.”
However, the show is immediately marred by his lateness, arriving a full 90 minutes after the scheduled stage time, leaving him a mere 35 minutes until the curfew. Speculation arises that this delay is attributed to concerns regarding crowd control outside the venue. (During a livestream of the performance, Asake emphasizes, “Safety is my top priority tonight.”) Once the show commences, it opens with a tribute to Hutchinson and Ikumelo: actors dressed in white flood the stage, while Aina More delivers a spoken-word performance recounting the events of December. This is accompanied by news footage in the background. The segment then transitions into an appeal by the Metropolitan police, but the execution feels cold and lacking in artistic finesse. Criticism arises, particularly from Ikumelo’s sister, who notes that despite featuring her personal videos in his show, Asake has not maintained contact with her family. This critique appears more poignant when Asake finally makes a dramatic entrance to the arena via a slowly descending camouflage helicopter.
The execution of the show indicates an artist who seems unprepared for the scale of the O2 venue, even though it’s a sold-out event. Asake’s discography strength and his versatile voice become his saving grace. There’s a triumphant sequence of songs like “Organise,” “Sunmomi,” and “Dupe.” His band, the Compozers, effectively bring out the intricate rhythms of his tracks, particularly the saxophone-driven, fuji-inspired grooves. However, his energy seems to fluctuate, sparking and then waning – he appears frustrated even as he engages in running, hopping, and salsa dancing. Even while brandishing a prop flamethrower during his performance of “Omo Ope” with guest Olamide, he fails to radiate warmth.
One might anticipate that Asake would fill his short set with his hits, and while he does exceed curfew, performing for about an hour, he surprises with a barely audible, seated rendition of Davido’s “No Competition.” The special guests don’t quite hit the mark either. Fireboy DML shines during “Sere,” but Tiwa Savage appears to grapple with microphone issues during “Loaded.” The inclusion of Lighthouse Family’s Tunde Baiyewu to perform “Ocean Drive” (sampled on “Sunshine”) is a pleasant gesture, although it’s not intriguing or rewarding enough to warrant hearing the same song twice.
Interestingly, the person most visibly disappointed by the night’s events appears to be himself. His demeanor displays frustration, and as the show ends abruptly, he adds, “I’ll be back.” (He does indeed return in a new outfit to perform “Joha,” although much of the audience has already left, resulting in another cutoff.) Overall, it’s a disappointingly cautious return to the capital for a genuinely exceptional recording artist, and not in the manner he had initially intended.