Unless it is one of those public stunts generally employed by artists or their management to sustain or soar up their dwindling fortunes and popularity, then the news about Promzy (Emmanuel Ababio)- arguably the front man of one of the most respected and successful music groups in Ghana over the past 15 years- signals the ‘death’ of the group’s musical fortunes.
Despite the expected assurance of their manager, Bull Dog that ‘VIP is bigger than one member of the group’, it is an undeniable fact the group can’t, unless some divine intention, maintain its glory.The gloss of VIP has in recent times been waning. This was evident at their last stage performance at the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards where the crowd, which hitherto would jump off their seats, sing, applaud and dance as if possessed to every song by VIP, sat staring, uninterested to what they were about. The magnetic force that defined VIPs showmanship was evaporating.
Prior to that performance, response to their new single ‘Follow Me’, a cover of Nigerian rapper M.I’s ‘African Rapper (No.1)”- in my view, coupled with the solo tunes of Lazzy ‘Human Gyata”, Prodigal’s “DJ” had minimal impact on the music charts and radio air plays. The sign was clear that they needed to re-invent but not in this fashion.One may argue that VIP has survived such situation before. No doubt. Before VIP became such a big brand in Ghana and going on to sweep five awards (a record) at the 2004 Ghana Music Awards, the vision of their progress nearly came to a halt.
Friction, who was a founding member, exited the Nima based group after dropping hits as ‘Rana Sallah’ and Obaa Sweetie’. Another member, Bone, also went away, leaving Promzy, Lazzy (now Zeal) and Prodigal to salvage the drowning VIP boat.
The group’s management switched hands. Mic Smith then of Groove FM handed the management to Goodies Music who partnered with Precise Music and later Allordia Productions and in 2004; VIP released their biggest album ever ‘Ahomka Wo Mu’. Remember in 2011, they picked the top prize Artiste of the Year at the Ghana Music Awards.
The success of the album cemented their credentials as a force to reckon with, opening doors to them across Africa and the UN appointing them as Peace Ambassadors for West Africa. They had been on a roll ever since.
There was a brief hiatus. They released ‘Progress’ which spurned two single ‘I Think I like Am’ and ‘Away’. Then the gloss began to wear off till this recent announcement.
NO SIGN OF RECOVERY
It will be a miracle, a grand one for VIP to rise to their ‘cult’ status again following the exit of Promzy. VIP can be compared to a tripod, with Promzy as the front leg. Now that it has broken, I doubt if the two legs can hold the balance.
The influence of Promzy on the group can’t be under-estimated. He’s bigger, larger and more like the poster boy of the group. He carries this ‘bad boy’ persona. He’s a talented rapper. His charisma could be felt on records and on the stage. He’s the force behind the performance (apologies Charter House).
I’m sorry to disagree with Bull Dog’s assertion. History tells us that groups have not been the same with the exit of their strongest link. Whether Promzy survives as a solo artist, we all wait to see. In my mind’s eye, he’ll have it tough. Even Okyeame Kwame struggled following the breaking of Akyeame.What Bull Dog, Lazzy and Prodigal will pull out of their hats is something we await. Perhaps they will draft one of their protégés from FOI, the talented Lil’ Chris to fill the gaping hole or they will have to rely on other artists as featured guests.
VIP survived the first quake and became a formidable group. This time I have my reservations. Lightening doesn’t strike the same spot twice. Whatever it is that they plan on doing, they better do it quickly or see their careers swallowed by the musical quick sand they seem to sand on currently.
Despite this, I wish is the news is nothing more than public STUNT. But if it isn’t, my greatest regret will be that they couldn’t share their collections with Ghanaians through city-to-city tours. I’m open to surprises. They should prove me and others who have predicted their ‘musical demise’ wrong.
By: Swaye Kidd.
He is freelance Writer, Blogger, Poet, Arts lover, Music head. His writing spans book, event, music reviews and social and political issues.