Tough Love: Becca Needs Better Songs


Like a third of the population of Ghana, I have a small crush on Rebecca Acheampong. I’m ashamed to say it’s all physical: I like her smile, her shape and her style, the last of which I’d describe as ‘elegantly African’.

I’m not the biggest fan of Becca’s music though.

I have friends who have a problem with Becca’s voice. They say she can’t sing. I disagree. I don’t think you have to do Beyonce/Jennifer Hudson-style histrionics to be able to sing. Madonna and Janet Jackson are two examples of women with limited vocal ranges who have done pretty damn well for themselves. You just have to sing songs that suit your voice, which I think Becca could do just fine…

… if she was given the right songs.

Interestingly, Becca launched her debut album, Sugar, simultaneously in Ghana and in South Africa. She even had South African jazz legend, Hugh Masekela, on two or three tracks. That impressed me: South Africa is one of the continent’s biggest markets and if she makes it there, her team stand to make a lot more money than many of the local artists who stick so unimaginatively to the Ghanaian market.

The thing is – given her style (which owes a lot to artists like Miriam Makeba and Yvonne Chaka Chaka) – Becca is going to be compared in South Africa to other elegantly African acts like Zamajobe and Lira

… and frankly her songs just don’t match up.

My favourite Becca joint is ‘Hey Ba‘: the horns and arrangement of that track make it sound both fresh and funky. ‘Daa Ke Da‘ isn’t half bad either, although not quite my cup of mellow. Most of B’s other singles however are somewhat banal. That’s not to say that things can’t get better. I think that with the right songs, she could live up to the praise she’s apparently received from the likes of Masekela and Freshlyground.

Right now though – from ‘You Lied to Me‘ all the way to her latest single, ‘Forever‘ (which actually isn’t half bad) – Becca’s songs may be popular here… but they just won’t cut it on an international level.

Take ‘Fire‘ for instance. Whose bright idea was it to release a song containing the lyrics ‘there is fire on the mountain’ when another African female singer – the brilliant Asa – has a song with that title out that is not only better (kraaa…) but which is also popular both here and internationally? It opens both songs up for comparison and even the most hardcore Becca fan would be hard pressed to say that ‘Fire‘ outdoes Asa.

Let’s bring it closer to home though. Right here in Ghana, Becca’s problem can be summed up in one name:

Efya.

Efya Awindor has come a long way since her days on ‘Stars of the Future‘ and the group the talent show spawned, ‘Irene and Jane‘. She too is being managed by Ghanaians with South African links. She is also being projected as being musically mature, elegant and eclectic… with an added dash of Lady Day‘s inner chaos. Efya has a better range than Becca. In fact, when she sings, people stop and use words like ‘wow’, ‘damn’ and ‘ei’. She has a few songs that are unofficially in circulation (back when she was still just Jane) and with the time she is taking to craft her album, anticipation is high that she will deliver something that reflects the talent she consistently displays in her live performances. If she succeeds, we may just have a genuinely internationally-marketable Ghanaian album on our hands.

Becca and Efya are two completely different artists. Efya should be able to co-exist in the same market as Becca in the same way Becca did with her predecessors… but let’s not celebrate mediocrity. Becca needs better songs. If she does not get them, she can kiss goodbye to any international aspirations.

In fact, with competition heating up at home, she may just have to kiss goodbye to her local aspirations too.

7 thoughts on “Tough Love: Becca Needs Better Songs

  1. Omotoke

    thanks for saying more or less what I’d been thinking. On my last two visits to the AF stage I’ve had the pleasure of seeing first Becca and then Efya and there was unfortunately no competition. I had heard so much about Becca so was really looking forward to seeing her perform live at the Haiti show a while back but I must say I was both confused and highly disappointed by both the vocals and performance. It seemed like she had all the right ingredients to be Ghana’s version of Lauryn Hill (Mis-education era). The attitude, the stage presence and the looks but… it felt like she was just settling for being a Lauryn Hill wannabe and wasn’t giving us any ‘Becca’ her vocals were washed out as well so I kind of came away from that highly disappointed. But that’s not to say she isn’t a good artist, I think she just needs to focus more on the singing and really go back and work on her vocal exercises some more.

    This weekend I was again at the AF stage and was so thrilled and excited to hear and see (for the second time) Afya performing live! She was amazing, she was 150% herself, she was oozing with attitude and she did what she came to do, sing. And bwoi did she sing! I was needless to say very proud of her. She’s a star, and her potential is limitless.

    Reply
  2. MsAfropolitan

    Ouch! lol

    Thanks for sharing, interesting to learn about the Ghanaian music scene.

    I do see what you mean about Becca needing better songs, although I did quite like ‘Fire’ despite it’s lyrical similarity to Asa’s song.
    Let’s hope she survives the competition, def think she’s got something going on there

    Reply
  3. Last Born Child

    I agree – we must hold Becca to a higher standard. That whole Beyonce rip-off a the GMAs didn’t go well with me.

    I heard Efya sing back in the day and I always thought she was the more talented of the duo. I became a fan after I heard her rendition of Dadie Anoma. Great presence.

    BTW, I like your new space and the layout. Suits you cousin.

    Reply
  4. Rodney Quarcoo

    “Hey Ba” is my favourite song off her debut “Sugar”, but she doean’t like it, cos it sounds “too Ghanaian”!

    I thought “huh?!?”

    oh well, my money’s on Efya!
    :-)

    Reply
  5. sasha

    word up.
    I hope becca gets her act together.

    ‘fire’ did not catch good attention. Becca has setttled for the little success her first album gave her.
    It however promised far more than she is delivering now

    Reply
  6. Mawuli Fudoglo

    Many will not swallow the hard truth because it doesnt taste very nice. Much respect to you KG for preaching your opinion which is just in place.

    Becca maybe a singer but Efya is a talented singer. Many may not see the difference but the gab is huge. Becca has to focus on getting her act together. But Efya is just effortlessly talented.

    Just my opinion. Thanks KG.

    Reply
  7. mash

    i agree with you all. efya is now an international competitor and not a local one. ask me why; at the decibel’s show or concert, efya beat all the artistes on board including bb brew,nneka who are internationally acclaimed jazz singers. efya can rap, sing talk into a song while staying in key and…………she is an embodiment of pure talent….limitless. becca is just overhyped. her songs are good, but her performances are full of drama. sory 4 her. but, watch out 4 irene logan’s kabila, its killa.

    Reply

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