Hot Takes: Spotify, Ghana’s LGBTQIA+ community and the future of Afropop

Catch up on the trendy tidbits and important conversation for this week

Another day, another dollar. The week might have just started, but I’m already feeling pretty spent. Not only has Zoom fatigue and spiralling to keep up with adulting in a panasonic got me down this week, but we’re edging closer and closer to our one-year anniversary in quarantine and the thought of that really spooks me. But with officially one week to March, this means we’re also a few weeks closer to my favourite time of the year–Aries season.

For me, all things align when my season is in town (or I would just like to believe so) and so, I’m holding onto that wishful thinking in hopes that I’ll subconsciously start believing that things will get better soon. This all sounds mad bleak. so I’ll stop the rant now. In other news, my co-worker Dennis called me cool in last week’s Hot Takes column so maybe things aren’t all that bad. We started this column a few months ago to give you (more ourselves tbh) a much-needed break from the constant consumption of horrible news every day, and it’s been such a journey discovering all the latest tidbits in popular culture to get our minds off our dystopian reality. Today, I’m taking the reigns to school you guys on all things Gen-Z, the Headies, Bobby Shmurda’s release, and helping members of the Ghanaian LGBTQI+ community in these trying times.

What I’m listening to: Kaash Paige ‘Teenage Fever’

One of my greatest discoveries of 2020 was Dallas singer, Kaash Paige who released her debut full-length LP ‘Teenage Fever’ last September. Before this, I had heard her airy melodies on Don Toliver’s “Euphoria” featuring Travis Scott earlier in the year, just as the world descended into months of a socially distanced lockdown and we were all consuming more music than we normally would. Her voice was refreshing, one of the best I’d heard in a minute, and I was infinitely curious about the 19-year old singer off that one track. Her debut album ‘Teenage Fever’ converted me to full Kaash Paige stan as her 13-track album encapsulated everything the modern lo-fi r&b  has to offer at this moment. Although she chronicles her experiences as an upcoming artist on the verge of her teenage years, some feelings and experiences are universal and able to resonate with anyone. Being a music writer, I find it hard to consume a lot of music outside what I have to analyse and write about (desperately trying to break this curse, send me playlists) but ‘Teenage Fever’ had me coming back for replays. Also with a stage name that has the acronym “Kill All Arrogance, Stop Hatred,” what’s there not to love about this prodigy.

What I’m watching on Netflix: Behind Her Eyes

When I’m not watching episodes of Modern Family or The Office (US, duh!) or rewatching my favourite teen films like Mean Girls and Wild Child, I am always looking for what’s hot on Netflix at the moment. Over the weekend, I saw people talking about the ending of a new series called ‘Behind Her Eyes’, and being a lover of a good psychological thriller, I decided to give this a watch. The ending definitely was a shocker and it gave me very Jordan Peele ‘Us’ vibes in the very last 2o minutes of the show so you absolutely must watch it if it’s your speed. Complete with night terrors, astral projection, and a cheating spouse, this wasn’t a bad mindless binge if you can get through the 6 hour-long episodes.

What’s hot on TikTok: BGC Drama Effect

Over Christmas last year, when I was down with the ‘rona, I found myself finding comfort and solace in TikTok videos. They became a way for me to escape my reality and really find something to laugh about again while I was cut off from hanging with my family in our communal living spaces. Since then, I’ve become a regular TikTok user, consistently checking what’s on my timeline every day and even making a few videos myself. This week, my TikTok feed seems to be filled with people using this dramatic BGC sound effect that’s typically used in reality TV and movies when the plot thickens and a revelation is made. All week, TikTok users have utlised this effect to air out greviences in the most hilarious way. From asking why sis shaved her coochie if all she wanted was closure to asking that deadbeat nigga why he hasn’t hit if the girl he’s talking about lets everyone hit, you will for sure be triggered by one of them. If you’re looking for a way to spend a few hours laughing, this is the perfect trend for you, cause every single video has been a hit.

@orodiiolmao sorry I look rough I just woke up #fyp #viral #xyzbca♬ BGC Drama Effect – whozmanzzz

@3.pointsLike bro im just chillin♬ BGC Drama Effect – whozmanzzz

Spotify is finally coming to Nigeria and Ghana

Finally, Spotify has announced that they will be expanding into 80 new markets over the next few months, including key territories across Africa such as Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The vast expansion coming soon means that Spotify will be active in more than 173 markets. This move is one that many Nigerians have been anticipating for a while and will increase the number of streaming services that are already available in these countries including Apple Music and Tidal. In addition, this could also be This could also mean a lot for podcasters, as it means that the platform could increase opportunities and visibility for many podcasters, and reach a wider audience. With both free and subscription-based services coming with the app, it would be interesting to see how Spotify is able to manouvre the African market. Those who use the platform swear that it’s superior to all others, and we’d love to see how accurate this comparison is. A widely acknowledged constraint to the adoption of streaming is the relatively high price of data in both Nigeria, Ghana and I suspect many other African nations so it will be interesting to see how Spotify entering the African streaming market would rally up users who are already using services like Audiomack where they can stream for free.

Gen Z vs Millenials

Last week, Gen Zers and Millenials declared war on the timeline following the release of a Zikoko article that revealed what Gen Zers hate about the millennials around them. Many of the comments focused on how the sibling generations were so different, with the younger of the two disliking how similar their older siblings were to their boomer parents, and how restricted and stuck in their ways many of them could be. The enemy lines were drawn and this resulted in a full-blown Twitter war that lasted hours with each side making fun of the other for their general traits. It’s safe to say that Gen Z won the war by a landslide, and they keep taking losses even nearly a week after. If you’ve ever been around a 30+ millennial, you’ll know that they love to ask you whether you know what song was popping in 1999 even though you were probably a toddler, and for years they have fancied themselves superior because of it. Now, the tables have turned, and we’re all adults, but the millennials can’t seem to identify the new vanguard of Afropop hitmakers in pictures. Safe to say that many failed woefully and couldn’t tell who was who if they walked past them on the street, even though they probably jam to their songs on the radio and in the club (well, when outside was open).  It’s hilarious how an artist could be heard everywhere from the streets to the club and still could remain unknown or unrecognisable to a whole group of people in society, and in Nigeria, that seems to be a common trend. Nontheless, it’s all a bit of banter and we’re here for all the funny tweets. Play nice kids, the real enemy are these damn boomers.

Hushpuppi in the mud…AGAIN

Last year, in June, popular Instagram influencer Ramon Abbas aka Hushpuppi was arrested by the Dubai police. A court document claims he and co-conspirators “[targeted] victims around the world in schemes designed to steal hundreds of millions of dollars.” Hushpuppi who had become known for his extravagant and opulent lifestyle on Instagram claimed that he made his money through real estate, and was then charged with conspiring to launder that money. Investigators seized nearly $41 million, 13 luxury cars worth $6.8 million, and phone and computer evidence, Dubai Police said in a statement. They uncovered email addresses of nearly 2 million possible victims with their lives destroyed through phones, computers and hard drives.

Since then, not much had been heard of Hushpuppi’s case until now and it seems that he’s still deep in the mud–despite Bobrisky’s pleas that he makes it home soon. Further news of Hushpuppi’s case now shows that he is in more trouble than initially suspected. According to a thread on Twitter, the scammer was allegedly working with North Korean hackers to help them scam a number of US citizens of billions of dollars. But his plan was foiled when a flewed out date with Blac Chyna raised suspicions. Now, I don’t know what in the badly written Nollywood script is going on, but we can’t say for certain whether any of these claims are even true. What I do know however is that we (not me sha) made an influencer out of a man who spent his life stealing from hardworking people. There’s nothing funny or inspirational about that and he deserves to pay for his crimes. Karma is a bitch and Hushpuppi’s is definitely draped in Gucci.

Bobby Free!

Bobby Shmurda is finally free people and the summer can begin again. Bobby was made eligible for conditional release, meaning he will serve the remainder of his sentence under community supervision until the maximum expiration date of Feb. 23, 2026. Although the conditions of his release don’t seem to be that great, the news of his release has already been widely celebrated in hopes that the rapper would get back in the booth and take over again. Quavo told Billboard that he will be there to pick up the Brooklyn rapper in style. “I’m going to get my guy,” the Migos frontman says. “I’m personally gonna go pick up Bobby Shmurda. I’m bout to go get him. I’m gonna let him show you how I’m gonna pick him up, yessir,” he had shared. Fans were very excited about this because prior to his arrest, Shmurda and Migos were working on a joint mixtape titled Shmigo Gang. Quavo then teased another collaboration in the stash at the end of 2019 and now we can only imagine what the trio will get up to with Shmurda now that he’s finally free.

Defunding the Headies and the future of Afropop

It’s been over 15 years of production from the annual Headies awards and its 14th installation came and went without any lasting impact beyond the milieu of new artists it welcomed into its winner’s hall of fame including Omah Lay, The Cavemen, Fireboy DML, Bad Boy Timz and more. We know that everything is made extremely difficult in Nigeria, but there’s no way to sugarcoat it – for a show that has been around for so long, the Hip Tv award is terribly produced, disorganised, and unrepresentative of the breadth of the Nigerian music industry. This year, with loads of people stuck indoors due to COVID-19 rules and guidelines, many more people tuned in online for the award show, but didn’t quite get the experience they expected. The problems were many–the video quality was incredibly poor, the lighting was atrocious, hosts were on stage without masks, award winners walked back to their seats and didn’t exit orderly through the backstage, and the category award winners were all over the place. The most obvious peeve I had while watching the show was the lack of understanding of the different genres and the unrepresentative categories that the Headies still relies on.

Fireboy DML won awards for Best R&B and Best Pop Album for his debut ‘Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps’ and his sophomore project ‘APOLLO’ respectively. While we’re incredibly happy to see the singer earn his stripes, neither of these albums belonged in either of those categories and therein lies the problem. If we’re not even defining and understanding in certain terms what a genre means, then how can we ensure that all the albums or songs nominated within that category are representative of the entire landscape of that genre within Nigeria? Take, for instance, the Alternative category, artists such as DRB, The Cavemen, and more were nominated within this field and in previous years, many such as Odunsi the Engine, Lady Donli, Tay Iwar and more have also received nominations. But not everyone that is considered ‘alternative’ is making alternative music–sometimes they make r&b or rap or pop.

Award categories must show and recognise they are keeping abreast with moving popular culture. Considering that we’re in an era of music where full-lengths constantly defy easy categorisation, grouping albums by genres is quite the task, however, we need award shows that are properly representative of everything music has to offer, if not, then I struggle to find why we should even be paying attention to award shows bent on keeping some away from receiving accolades. It was still heartwarming to see young artist supporting each other and showing up for themselves particularly the Next Rated nominees. The future of afropop is definitely in safe hands, all that’s missing is an award show that does justice to their collective contibutions.

Ghana’s LGBTQIA+ community

All across Africa and her nations, marginalised groups are crying out for help against governments and people bent on harmfully erasing and prosecuting them. The Ghanaian LGBTQIA+ community is particularly looking for support and help at this moment. A few weeks ago, LGBT+ Rights Ghana opened its doors to the queer community within the country with a new community center that would serve as a safe space for many looking for shelter and community.

Rather than see this as a moment of celebration for the queer community who are still under attack from homophobic legislation, many of Ghana’s Catholic bishops and government officials have fired intense vitriol and hate towards LGBTQ+ advocacy. Phrases such as ‘it’s against our culture’, ‘it’s a sin’ and other harmful and degrading rhetoric have been shared on the news and on social media, in efforts to sentisise the wider public to feel empowered to carry out hate crimes on queer-looking or androgynous individuals.

These tactics are nothing new. For many years now, African nations have constantly churned out the same harmful rhetoric and language when it comes to engaging with the marginalised queer communities who endlessly facing prosecution for daring to live their lives and love who they love. The more that religious leaders and well-known government officials continue to chastise and debate the validity and existence of members of our community, the more other citizens feel empowered to hurt, attack, and harass individuals different from the norm. This comes just a few weeks after Angola decriminalised homosexuality in the country. The new penal code, which was passed in parliament back in 2019, does away with the contentious “vices against nature” provision which targeted queer Angolans and hindered their access to healthcare, education and obtaining employment. The new law also states that individuals found discriminating against another on the basis of sexual orientation will face imprisonment of up to two years.

This move by the Angolan government sparked hope for members of the LGBTQIA+ communities in other countries where it is still criminalised by legislation. That is why what is currently taking place in Ghana and being fuelled by local media is so painful to bear. At the moment, there are so many queer people hurting and hiding from being ousted during this time and it’s even more painful knowing that we have a long way to go before our existence is not hot button stories to debate and invalidate. Shutting down the LGBT+ centre in Ghana sends a clear message about the importance of certain lives over others in the Ghanaian community and we must all play a part in making sure we support our Ghanaian counterparts who deserve to be seen and heard. People continue to claim Africa is not ready for homosexuality but what gives any government the right to deny members of their society the right to live freely as themselves. To find out how to help, read more below and donate to LGBT Rights Ghana.

Featured image credits/NATIVE

ICYMI: Here’s all the hot takes you may have missed last week