Top Picks: Exploring KiDi’s hidden gems
Today, we are not reviewing a conventional album. I was inspired to write this and unofficially call them an album after a friend was shocked when I shared some of them with him.
Also, KiDi is the 2022 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards Artiste of the Year, so what better time to bring this to you. So here goes nothing:
Ghanaians love the Afrobeats/Afropop music KiDi makes – it’s great – we all love it.
But there is a section of Ghanaians who in addition to all the poppy tunes like to take things slow. They’d love music to waltz to slow, cool, RnB like music and they get their fix from US/UK/Canadian music industries.
Those two are great places to find such tunes since they boast of artistes like Celine Dion, Adele, Ed Sheeran, Mario, Justin Bieber, Mary J Blige, Usher, Neyo, The Weekend and the list goes on.
However, the Ghanaian music industry also can boast of such music only that those ones (and sometimes the artistes who sang them) are not as popular.
KiDi is one of such. I call his RnB inspired music hidden gems in his albums and EP.
Every time he releases a collection of songs, Ghanaians select their favourite Afropop/Afrobeats “jam” to give those their attention. However, because there is an effort to push Ghanaian music, this RnB inspired jams from KiDi can be ‘exploited’ too.
In 2021, in the Golden Boy documentary, KiDi talked about his growth in the industry and for the first time, he answered a question I have been looking forward to for an answer, since he became the “Thunder” crooner. The question – where did the RNB music lover go? Where is that music?
Don’t get me wrong, like many people, I love his Afropop stuff but I equally loved the earlier music he made.
Yes, it may be an RnB inspired work but his diction (exploring the use of pidgin and Ghanaian related terms) and production make his slowed versions of songs rich and enjoyable without sounding like a copy or an imitation of known RnB artistes who may inspire him.
Before ‘Odo’ became a hit I got my KiDi music fix from these songs including his mash-up of One Dance, Anointing and No Kissing Baby. He turned upbeat Afrobeats songs into one of the best-slowed songs you’d ever listen to and it never gets old.
So yeah, I was curious at the time as to why those were no longer a staple in the new KiDi music catalogue.
KiDi explained in the documentary that he was adamant about making RnB music when he started out as a new artiste. However, his label advised him to make a switch or incorporate other local genres, especially highlife and Afrobeat into his music.
He revealed that Lynx Entertainment boss Richie explained that Ghanaians do not openly embrace RnB like they do other genres of music.
I completely understood. The RnB-like music does not cater to the mainstream Ghanaian and if he needed to succeed as an artiste, it was in his best interest to make something for the mainstream and it worked and people couldn’t be happier.
Also, no award scheme rewards RnB in this country – and why should they? It’s not originally ours and we haven’t claimed it like we have Reggae, Dancehall and Hip-hop.
As a music enthusiast, who snoops around a lot, I realised after his first album that he hasn’t completely thrown away his love for RnB. There are songs on Sugar, Blue EP and Golden Boy that veered off the Afrobeats route to a more RnB sound.
My theory after ‘Sugar’ was that, he wanted to feed his ‘day one’ fans who love his RnB stuff, but also cater to the side of him that still loves that genre of music.
Why else would we have acoustic/slowed versions of his biggest afrobeat songs like ‘Enjoyment’, ‘Say You Love Me’, ‘So Fine’ and ‘Ping Pong’ – again all my theories.
KiDi may have not thought through that at all. Maybe he’s just making all kinds of music. But what’s life without a little conspiracy theory, right? Right!
This is one of KiDi’s early songs and it was released under his label Lynx Entertainment. It was the song he sang during his time at the MTN hitmaker show. The artistes were expected to sing their own songs (I’m not sure whether it was at the finale) and it won him a lot of accolades. It may not be the best song he’s written, but it surely is a good one.
In the YouTube video, Drunk, is described as KiDi’s first original song. It was produced by Kay So. After many listen, I am tempted to believe that the song was inspired by The Weekend’s ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ – Maybe, maybe not!
It’s a great song from a then amateur singer/songwriter, give it a chance, especially if you are an RnB fan.
All I have to say is I recommend this song to all the heartbroken – leave all your pain and anguish on this song. Make this your new heartbreak anthem, it’s worth it.
One Dance Medley
This is not a KiDi song but it deserves the honourable mention. In 2016, the Afrobeat uprising finally got to the world. There were great songs that enjoyed massive airplay, especially with how great they were.
KiDi on his Ground Up session turned three of those songs – namely; One Dance, No Kissing Baby and Anointing – into one of the best medleys you’d ever hear.
In 2020, I advocated for this song to be nominated in the Highlife Song of the Year category. Click play and you’ll find out why. It may not be RnB but it’s here because it’s a jam, sue me!
Jokes aside, Letter to Afia remains one of the best Highlife songs he has ever written.
There was a storytelling theme in KiDi’s debut album ‘Sugar’ which was explored in the musical ‘Sugar’ — a film released alongside the album.
This is one of my favourite songs on the album and the opening remark is one heartfelt word.
You know Say You Love Me, but do you know the remix? KiDi enlisted Cina Soul – his ‘girlfriend’ given to him by social media – for this one. It is a slow version of the original and a beautiful duet.
Where are the players??? This one is yours. This is the song spelling out all the requirements you expect from a love interest. All the job was done for you by KiDi, all that is left is to play it for the intended.
This was a hit, you must have heard of it.
This tune is a good representation of Afrobeats meets RnB in my opinion. It is mostly Afrobeat and a gem. It was part of the Blue EP which won Album of the Year at the 2021 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards.
While you are at it listen to Next Time I See You also on the Blue EP.
This is not a KiDi song but one he was featured on. American Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Stokley enlisted KiDi for this one.
This song is on this list not because it is RnB influenced, but because it’s just a great song and I believe it should not be buried by Ghanaians. Good news though, it is one of the most listened to KiDi songs on Spotify.
This song has Rnb influences. Speaking about this song in his album, KiDi revealed that this song was inspired by Micheal Jackson. He wrote it using titles of popular Micheal Jackson songs like Dirty Diana, Smooth Criminal, Black or White, Bille Jean, Liberian Girl, Bad and Dangerous (1991 album), which of course is the title of the song.
This song easily has the ability to charm everyone. This is what ‘E Be Like Say’ could be but wasn’t. Obviously, it is because he has grown as an artiste and a person which in turn has an effect on the music he makes.
Certainly, this is not to say that KiDi’s popular hits are any less good. In fact, this peace only seeks to appeal to Ghanaian music enthusiasts to be open-minded about music. Not every artiste is open to changing their style or making ‘dance’ music.
There are some artistes who truly have catalogues that are worth giving attention to, even though they do not fall within the ‘normal’ Ghanaian song category.