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Ameyaw Says

Dear Ghanaians, this is what you need to know about ‘world music’ genre



I have been forced into a needless social media debate with several Ghanaians after I posted that Samini became the second Ghanaian, after Rocky Dawuni, to make it on the Billboard Reggae Album Chart.

Samini debuted in the eighth position this week, with his recently released ‘Untamed’ album. In 2015 Rocky Dawuni also peaked at the tenth position with his ‘Branches Of The Same Tree’ album, which was also nominated for Best Reggae Album at the Grammy Awards. 

Many people found my post to be wrong because Stonebwoy and Shatta Wale have both made an appearance on the Billboard Charts. Well, while that is true, there is a big difference between the ‘World Album’ chart and the ‘Reggae Album’chart. And no, ‘world music’ does not mean music from the whole world, as the name might imply on the surface. 

In fact when you take a look at the ‘World Album’ chart from Billboard when Stonebwoy or Shatta Wale appeared on it, chances are that the artists on it were people most Ghanaians (including you, yes you) have never heard about! Yes, that is because the genre ‘World Music’ is not for global stars but more music from certain parts of the world.

The Billboard ‘World Albums’ chart debuted on May 19 in 1990. It ranks biggest-selling world music albums, including catalog titles. So now the big question is what is ‘world music’?

It refers to traditional music from the developing world, sometimes incorporating elements of Western popular music. I love the following point of view on ‘world music’ by Alex Crook:

I believe that world music is not a particular genre of music, but instead an umbrella term to describe all the different genres of the world. World music can be used to describe genres of music that a particular culture is not familiar with. In the United States, for example, we would describe tribal music from the Middle East and Africa as world music because we are not accustomed to these different styles. 

On the other hand, people from these regions would consider popular American music genres such as country and hip hop the same way. World music covers more genres than one person can recognize because it includes everything except for what one person listens too; therefore, world music is the largest category of music.

World music parallels the ways in which each culture is different. As an American, I obviously know the most about our culture and way of living. Likewise, I am also most familiar with the various music genres that are popular within this society. Just because I do not know the music from a different culture doesn’t mean that isn’t good music, even if that is my opinion. People will like a particular music style because it is more prevalent in their culture.

An alternative term for world music, in my opinion, is culturally unfamiliar music. This title better supports my ideas because it explains that world music is not actually music from all over the world as the term leads us to believe, but it is actually music from the different cultures that we are not familiar with. Basically, world music is every style of music that we have not heard or cannot recognize, and world music is very different for each culture.

So there it is, I hope I have helped explained things better for you!