Africa’s reggae thriller, Rocky Dawuni, is knocking on history’s door. He is currently the first Ghanaian to be nominated for the Grammy awards, and if that door opens, he will become the first Ghanaian, and the first ever artiste without Jamaican roots to win the best reggae album. Even though the Grammy is supposed to be a technical award, these three general points make Rocky a strong contender.
1. The album is solid.
In 1998, Rocky scored a smash hit with In Ghana, the inspirational anthem that outdoored him to the world.
Even at that time, Rocky was clearly a passionate young man with huge potential. Today, he is an icon who has matured as a man and musician, and is earning his right to be recognized among reggae’s royalty.
Musically, Rocky has come a long way. Even a casual listener who compares his first album to the currently nominated album- Branches of the same tree will appreciate the maturity that has taken place. At this point in his musical journey, Rocky has arrived on a stage where he creates a sound of his own, and his sound that can fit in any playlist from any part of the world.
This album for example has influences from folk, hip hop, soul, and other African rhythms. The arrangement is solid, the production is strong, and the message is serious. The Grammy is an award that is supposed to reward music that is technically superior. If there ever was a time for Rocky to win it, that time is now.
2. Rocky is a global icon
There is a perception that some Grammy voters tend to be swayed towards artistes with big names or profiles. Understandably, it can be convenient to pick the best profile in the pack because it is safe and promotes the prestige of the award.
Whether true or false, this perception should not work against Rocky because he has a genuine international profile.
Rock Dawuni is one of the few reggae singers who have real influence beyond the world of music. CNN named him one of Africa’s Top 10 global stars, he has worked for UNICEF, and the UN Foundation, and he is the Global Ambassador for the Musicians Union of Ghana. His music has featured in popular television programmes on NBC and Showtime TV networks, and has also been used as soundtrack for various soccer video games released by EA Games.
3. The history is interesting
Though reggae is Jamaica’s signature sound, it actually has its roots in African rhythms. No wonder Jamaican musicians regularly chant their love for Africa, the continent they call ‘the motherland’.
Since 1984, the best reggae album has always gone to people of Jamaican origin. If Dawuni wins, it will mark the first time an artiste without Jamaican roots will ever win it.
Such a historic moment should crown a pioneer, an artiste who pushes reggae’s reach, and makes it more global, not somebody who reaches the same audience older Jamaican legends covered long ago. Such a pioneering artiste will be a unique creator, respected in and out of Jamaica. With such a profile, the icon can make reggae recognized for what it truly represents – universal love enjoyed in every part of the globe.
Right now, Rocky Dawuni’s branches of the same tree makes him fit that bill perfectly.
If Grammy voters choose Rocky Dawuni’s branches of the same tree, they will be making a powerful statement- that the award is a huge honor given to anybody who makes high quality music, irrespective of where they come from. And that kind of statement will go straight to the heart of the hundreds of reggae singers and lovers in other parts of the world, especially Africa.
Like Rocky himself sings in Black Star,
“There’s a rumbling in the streets/
Whisper getting loud/
Now, there’s no doubt what this is all about/
Black star arise”
2016 Grammy Awards is happening on Feb 15, 2016