This year I was privileged to have been asked by Charterhouse, the producers of what seems to be the only remaining music reality show, MTN Hitmaker, to be a judge on the 6th season. I am happy I agreed to do so despite my initial apprehension.
My initial push back was because I find myself to be too hard a critic and I could end up hitting too hard that the contestants could be demoralized instead of encouraged. I, however, had a second thought on the realization that being very frank with people, especially those seeking to enter a very competitive industry as music is, is more beneficial to them than to pamper them.
A few times during the season when I had been to my barber’s and other places where people realized that I was judging on the show, I have had comments such as “why are you so hard on them?” “Shouldn’t you rather weigh what you say so you don’t discourage them?” and many more.
I either laugh it off or take my time to explain that it is a tough world out there and people needed the right feedback before they get thrown out there. If you are going to compete with the big names in the industry when you pass through the MTN Hitmaker machine, you needed to be told frankly when you couldn’t do much against your amateur competitors. It’s a dog eat dog world out there!
Thankfully the season has almost ended and come next Wednesday the grand finale of this gruesome grilling of young Ghanaian music talents would be climaxed and the winner, who will go home with a GHS100,000 recording deal prize and, for sure, many other goodies, would be named.
The question is, who among the four remaining contestants would become the 6th MTN Hitmaker and follow in the footsteps of previous winners Naterial (Season One), Koo Ntakra (Season 2), Togbe (Season 3), KiDi (Season 4), and Kelvin or Kurl Songx (Season 5)?
Sitting in the judges’ chair and wearing the hat of the judge, together with Caroline Sampson and Kaywa of course, I have seen how these young talents remaining in the show Yaw Berk, Xali, Drew and Freda have evolved over the season. The four give a perfect balance of genre representation: two rappers, one singer and one dancehall artiste.
For me though, the big question for each of them is what would be the one factor or combination of factors that would ensure that come November 1 he or she would be crowned the winner. Each one of the remaining contestants possesses some unique strengths, some of which I want to talk about and which could be the deciding factor on the night at the National Theatre.
Yaw Berk: Right from the onset Kaywa kept saying that he was a superstar. I didn’t quite see it until the last two shows before the final. I think he matured over the season and got to the point where we all saw him as not just a good rapper, but also a great performer.
I remember how he took Shatta Wale’s Taking Over and made it his own by infusing some great bars into the lyrics and performing outstandingly on the night. His consistency has been perfect as well and I won’t be surprised if he emerges winner at the final.
Xali: Over the period of MTN Hitmaker Season 6, the best female contestant has been this lady. Right from the beginning she came with, as they say, “all guns blazing” and to make a claim that she was in this for the long haul. There was no doubt that she would make the final.
Her presence on the stage is awesome, her performances are electrifying and her engagement with the audience when she is performing is one of her biggest strengths. Indeed, if any female would be the first to win the MTN Hitmaker reality show, Xali leaves no doubt in the minds of those who have followed the show this season that she has the ability to be the one.
Drew: Drew is a crooner and a good one. He showed over the length of the season that he is the best singer among all the singers who took part from the beginning. It is however not just his singing that has got him ino the final of the show, I believe, but also his performing abilities.
Drew is a good performer and the evidence of same is the fact that he won the best performer award twice during the season. His dance moves are legendary. He has a way of moving his hands and legs to sync perfectly with his singing and other things he does on stage. For me, until the last two episodes when Yaw Berk nailed it perfectly I had thought Drew was coasting to victory. That said, I still think he has what it takes to win it.
Freda Rhymes: Over the period Freda was the one female rapper who took on a very strong cast of male rappers including Yaw Berk and D Forina. It was tough, but each week she showed tremendous strength in the face of such adversity and delivered. She was named best performer on one of the week nights during the course of the season.
Freda’s strength is her lyrics and her performance and it is those that probably got her here. She has done so well to get to the final and come Wednesday I am sure she will put up a great performance to ensure that she would upstage the three tough customers I have mentioned above.
It must be noted that these four along with the others who have been evicted during the course of the season have been trained by a very good voice coach and helped with their own productions by beat makers Magnum, Richie and DJ Breezy.
It is important to note and commend MTN for the fact that they have chosen this path to invest in the music industry. At the end of the final next week, they would have spent GHS600,000 on winning prizes for MTN Hitmaker alone since it started and we all know that is pocket change compared to what they would have spent on production, promotion and other aspects of the reality show.
We should also mention that the final decision of who becomes MTN Hitmaker 6 rests not only with the judges, but also with the voting public. Kaywa, Caroline and my good self will say all the good and bad things after each performance, but together with the public we’ll decide who gets that GHS100,000 prize money.
Come to the National Theatre on Wednesday at 7pm and let us together see who will become the winner of season six of MTN Hitmaker. And oh, there will be performances by former winners Koo Ntakra, KiDi and Kurl Songx as well as Kwame Eugene.