(CNN)Popular music has always provided the score for daily life. There is music to cover falling in love, heartbreak and every other emotion in between. Music has also always been a vehicle for social commentary.
Terrorism, sexism and corruption, here's music that covers it all
Ghana's musical reputation was built on Highlife, a melodic genre of music that began to spread across west Africa in the 1930s and provided commentary on the age. Today the culture persists even though the sound has changed.
From Boko Haram to gender inequality and corrupt leaders, Ghana's biggest musicians aren't just making beats, they are scoring intellectual points. If you've been looking for music that puts the world to rights, look no further than these gems.
Comprised of MCs Wanlov and Mensa, FOKN Bois' are a rap duo out to help us find our common humanity. And if that involves taking down Boko Haram with verbal bullets or calling out the hypocrisies of religion, then so be it. Their brand of satire is rude and often close to the bone, but each expletive-laden verse is sure to contain a prescient critique of socio-political affairs.
Wanlov: "For us [FOKN Bois] is freedom. It's freedom to say the darkest things we feel like saying and making fun of."
Mensa: "We're really just taking the moment and having fun, but yeah, I guess there is always something underneath."
"The Bois are more than a novelty: The duo's rapping chops and production ideas, with inventive samples of Highlife and other classic sounds, place them at the vanguard of the bubbling West African hip-hop scene, even while they lampoon it (and themselves)."
The androgynous singer-songwriter from Tumu may have a past as a chorister, but today she means business -- indeed, in her native Sisaala, Wiyaala means "the doer." Her pop-inflected tunes appear breezy, but her lyrics are tough on gender equality and male-dominated culture.
"Women can never be compared to men and men can never be compared to women. God has given women power, power that even men are jealous for, but we are not using it well. We go to school and say we are equal but do nothing to show [it]. If I am a singer and act right, encouraging people to act right, a man sitting somewhere will give me the needed respect. If I do not act right, why will the person respect me? We have the charm to store and give life. Women are very special."
"Her album is a culmination of a year of perseverance and constant learning, one that has transformed her from the novice she used to be... To say she is destined for greater things would be an understatement."
As one of the fastest rappers in Africa, if not the world, Sarkodie's mixture of hip hop and azonto flits between English and Twi. You'd be forgiven for thinking the BET-winning rapper churned out commercial records, but his verses are anything but. On "The Masses" he takes the political system to task, foregrounding systemic corruption and calling out the gulf between politicians and the electorate.
"I'm a citizen, so when something hits me, I think I have the right to talk about it. I think that the country is facing a hard time now... the country is living in crisis, the prices are going up... I don't see the difference [between presidents], they keep corrupting, one after the other."
"Sarkodie makes me want to learn how to speak Twi. The Ghanaian emcee's double- (or is it treble-) time delivery, coupled with the occasional English phrase, possesses the propensity to leave one yearning for even a pedestrian-level understanding of the Akan people's language."
If Jojo Abot's music sounds like it crosses boundaries, that's because so does she. The Afro-soul and jazz singer splits her time between Accra, Copenhagen and New York, and when she's not releasing music Abot is busy acting and modelling. Her music, recorded in English and Ewe, contains a progressive message, and throughout concept EP "Fyfya Woto" zones in on the subjects of female autonomy and forbidden love.
"A woman's right [is] to choose. This EP acknowledges the burdens and expectations placed on us culturally and traditionally but to an even greater extent, it acknowledges our right as women to choose and to seek happiness in every aspect of our lives."
"As an artist, Jojo Abot is a healthy dose of all things traditional, modern, colorful, fictional, and a true model of our generation. She is a soul nostalgic about the past yet anxious for the future. To her, the ultimate art is in living. With raw, honest, challenging, and thought-provoking lyrics, Jojo's voice enchants as it transports listeners to a world where stories of pain and struggle take on a beauty of their own without masking the harsh realities of life."
Delivering kologo music from the upper east region of Ghana, King Ayisoba throws together Frafra, Twi and English with his two string guitar for accompaniment. What comes out is rhythmic Afroblues harking back to his forefathers; a music that has attracted collaborators such as F.O.K.N Bois' Wanlov, drawn to Ayisoba's distinctive voice. His 2014 album didn't merely sing about the rich and powerful -- "Wicked Leaders" was named after the targets of Ayisoba's ire.
"I see myself [...] as a preacher. I talk with life stories, what happened, what people forget... I have to say it."
"With his gnarled voice that takes the Howling Wolf blues back to Africa and his brilliant and dextrous playing, King Ayisoba deals a rough and raw mystical music."