In any field, there is need for sacrifice so latter folks can find life more bearable. In the case of the sweet romance that dancehall is enjoying today, it is worthy to not that the journey has not been easy but the perseverance of the elders is now paying off.
To refuse to acknowledge tedious work put in by the pacesetters can prove disastrous rendering a pregnant and promising romance to be still born and in the process shattering hopes and faith for the dancehall project which has enabled hungry lions to feed themselves, their families and have the opportunity to discover other lands.
Samini brought shine to the genre when he released his debut album ‘Dankwansere’ in 2004 with hit tracks like linda and gyae shi gaining ground quickly.
The second album dubbed ‘Samini’ won him three major awards at the 2007 Ghana Music Awards and also won the Best African Artist award at the Hip Hop Awards in Nigeria in February 2008. ‘Dagaati’ the third album followed as did ‘CEO’ in 2010.
Then in 2014, a branded Bandana turned Shatta Wale had his wish to gain recognition for his gift and hard work came true when he won the Vodafone Ghana Music Artiste of the Year award. A huge feat by any standard indicating the gradual emergence of the dancehall genre as a lethal and potent force in Ghana.
Then dancehall artiste, Stonebwoy retained the Artiste of the Year award for the dancehall family in the subsequent event and further grabbed the BET Best International Act award in 2015 on the first attempt.
The goodwill that dancehall is enjoying was not always there compelling some of the early soldiers to retire or abscond for years only returning recently to gauge the market. It is in this context that Emmanuel Andrew Samini deserves special mention for his stamina and his ability to dig deep into his creative reserve and remain relevant with the times.
Folks might not have taken note but Samini then going by the Batman name made a declaration on his smash hit ‘linda’ which must have been prophetic. Right at the opening of that track he announces: “Ashanti International, Batman the dancehall stopper me a sey…….” In an era where hiplife was the fish taken with kenkey, for those who doubt the man’s dancehall credibility, this clearly shows Samini was at home in either the hiplife or dancehall bed and has since birthed numerous hits too many to enumerate here.
For a time in Ghana’s music history, Samini was the currency of the music industry and it was given that when you featured the Wa native on your music, you were certain to have a hit. In the process Samini helped guarantee hits for about 40 songs spanning K.K Fosu, Kokoveli, Shiloh, King David, Obour etc.
Never one to shy away from making clear his thoughts, Samini offered ‘egwee’ in 2005 dissing all the rag-life artistes of the time making the case that he was the king and they were inferior. Ronny Coaches, one half of Buk Bak was so incensed by that tune that he slapped Samini when he physically encountered him on the set of 4×4 at Adabraka leading to a scuffle.
The rag-lifer, rapper, song writer and actor has since gone on to be nominated for the 2006 MTV Europe Music Awards – Best African Act and 2008 MTV Africa Music Awards – Best Live Performer. He won the 2006 MOBO Awards for Best African Act and 2009 MTV Africa Music Awards for Best Live Performer.
His wins at the Ghana Music Awards can fill a cabinet and for organizers to fall on him to co-host the event with Obour underlines his pedigree.
The man who responds to the title ‘African Dancehall King’ has over the years offered solid music including gyae shi, time bomb, my baby, movement, dadiekye, money biz, sweet mistake, scatter bad mind, party time, iskoki and numerous other hits.
What is beyond doubt is that when awards were eluding Ghanaian artiste at the global stage, it was the Dansoman lord who put in some solid piece of creative work to emerge Ghana’s music ambassador securing some awards for self and country very much as Sarkodie, Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy are doing now.
Other elders who did music with the reggae/ragga/ dancehall flavour include General Marcus whose ‘sane ni agba’ a rendition of Buju Banton’s song in the 90’s was so touching that it opened many doors for him even leading to his sojourn in the United Kingdom. The song addressing life’s struggles, graduate unemployment and oppression of the poor by the rich remains a timeless piece. The UK-based Ghanaian reggae musician attempted a comeback in 2006 but plans fell through.
Although not active on the music market now, 2Ga served the family one time especially with his ‘my gal’ track featuring Black Prophet.
Black Prophet is a veteran in the field and his ‘mama’ tune remains a classic.
There is Natty Joe Amanfo with his unique style who remains popular for his ‘tribal war-4 bal war’ tune.
Buk Bak’s Ronny Coaches was a formidable force in the ragga/dancehall army and helped forge solid albums including ‘kum ke kena’ in 1999, ahwehwe in 2001, nkomshe in 2001, sika kokoo in 2002, gold coast in 2004 and other rich tunes like ‘kolom’ in recent years.
From the Western region, TH4Kwagees comprising Scooby Selah now Fifi Selah, Atsu Koliko and Olasty Bingo served tunes such as ‘nana esi, ‘I’m aware’, ‘mennum meho’ and others. Selah would move on and offer the world tunes from his solo project.
Then there is Mad Fish, although easily fingered as a hiplife artiste he also showed his other love for dancehall with tunes like ‘so sweet in the eyes’, ‘wone me baby’ and ‘sexy’.
Of course Terry Bonchaka’s lethal combination of stage craft and easy on the ears tunes with his deep vocal tone enabled tunes like ‘Ghana mma’, ‘pulele’, ‘zozey’, ‘Mr. Ode’ and ‘Ghana lady’ to fly. Little surprise then that the man with the afro hair and comb called himself the ‘Ragga Dada’. His collaborations with Nana Agyemang were queer as they were fruitful.
Another apostle of ragga, the forerunner of today’s dancehall was Borax. The man just like many others of the time, horned his skills during the Fun World youth talent shows at the National Theater and after featuring on Deeba’s hit track got linked to Daddy Lumba who helped produce his debut album, ‘aseeho’ which produced hits like ‘nanayaa’, ‘eye onua’, ‘me coat yi’. Another album ‘odo bewu diie’ boasted ‘onko na menko’, ‘meba’ and ‘enyi no sika’. The man who loves farming in recent years offered ‘tini wusa’.
There is Back Tyre who came through with ‘yen ntem ma yen pue’ and Root Eye whose comeback tune ‘heaviest rain’ underscored the fact that he still had the touch.
Sonni Balli remains another soldier of the family deploying tunes like ‘cocky rasta, ‘bend my rules’ and ‘afrakumaa’ to appease the hungry fans.
Akesifuor’s ‘african gurl’ was well received as was Wutah’s ‘burning desire’ just as Shasha Marley’s ‘maata family’, ‘so nyame mu’ and ‘twin city mafia’ landed well.
Atumpan’s ‘the thing’, ‘we run the show’ and ‘regina’ earned him a spot as does Bredren B’s ‘adwoa fowaa’ and ‘life’ tunes.
Other soldiers including Shoetan one time member of Buk Bak, Skrew Face, Felix Bell, Kojo Antwi, Blakk Rasta, Mr. Logic, Daddy Bosco, Black Santino, Knii Lantei and Johnny Blaze have all served the reggae/ragga/dancehall family. Not to forget all the musicians who did various Jesus tunes in the reggae/dancehall spirit but won’t just acknowledge it.
For many moons, female representation was nonexistent till heavy lipped Dorcas Opoku Darkwa easily identified as Abrewa Nana stepped in and took charge delighting fans with tunes such as ‘odo filla’ and ‘asisi me so’. Nana’s wordplay and energetic stage work coupled with her over 3 albums certainly stands out.
The case of Bandana is a curious one. Here was a fella who gained national attention with his ‘moko ho’ tune then entered the musical wilderness only to reemerge years later as Shatta Wale. Having discovered himself during those lonely years, Shatta has managed to carve an impressive career on his return.
Going by the tag ‘African King of Dancehall’ Shatta’s ‘dancehall king’, ‘anastasia’, ‘a Ghana me sey’, ‘everybody like my thing’, ‘real hustler’, ‘maserati’, ‘huggu flat’, ‘ice cream’ and ‘enter the net’ have all earned the Korle Gonno godfather hard core followers around the globe in addition to fame, fortune and awards.
It is incisive for current reggae/dancehall practitioners to know the work put in by the elders, respect their efforts and then build on ways of keeping the shine on dancehall. Just a few years back it was unthinkable that a dancehall artiste would win the biggest award at a Ghana Music Awards event but such is the story.
Kaakie deserves special mention for contributing to the revival of female participation in dancehall music in the country with her ‘too much’, ‘DC turn up’, ‘ewoo’, ‘toffee pun tongue’ tunes.
There comes a time in a man’s life when everything falls in place. For Stonebwoy that year was 2014. With his in-demand tunes like ‘not again’, ‘climax’, ‘can’t cool’, ‘pull up’, ‘ghetto love’, ‘onumade’, ‘baafira’, ‘shikena’ and ‘susupon’, the Ashiaman don and leader of the Bhim nation is certainly enjoying the perks involving cash, global exposure, the damsels, awards and prominence.
Dancehall’s future looks bright with the youth swaying towards the genre and carving out something for themselves.
Already soldiers such as Jupitar de General, Episode, Rashid Metal, Rudebwoy Ranking, Bastero, Ara B, Vbrant Faya and Stargyal Denora are staking a claim. Only time will tell how long the dancehall romance will last with the populace.
‘Kwame Nkrumah’, released on the 16 track ‘Born Dread’ album further indicates where Blakk’s heart lies regarding the content of his music.
With a beautiful chorus: //Kwame Nkrumah ei why did you leave so soon…I & I miss you so…when me a go see you again o// the song easily warms its way into the heart.
Extolling the virtues of Nkrumah, Blakk Rasta explains; when others were not in step with the times and slumbered, Nkrumah abhorred imperialism, nepotism, ‘nyafunyafu didiism’ adding that despite the forces arrayed against the Nzema native he still fought gallantly and secured vital victories for Ghana and other oppressed states.
Often, people talk about Nkrumah’s vision but what stood him in good stead was his honesty to his people in the face of baits, enticements and threats. “Nkrumah, you loved Africa so much that you never looted any booty from the motherland” the man voted thrice in a row as the Reggae Radio Show Host of the Year by the Ghana Radio and TV awards noted.
As a man steeped in tradition and as one who respects the elderly and venerates the dead, it’s no wonder that the 41 year old born to Samuel Abu Awudu Kumburwah and Adeline Fuseina Adam has paid homage to gurus like Gadhafi and Ken Sarowiwa but for one as monumental and credited for inspiring a generation of freedom fighters, the brain behind crack albums such as Rasta Shrine, More Fyah, Ganja Minister and Ancestral Moonsplash believes it is time to pacify the spirit of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the direct descendant of Nzemaland.
The nature scenes add greenery to the video, having his children on the boat ride with him was warm, while the lovely models bring a shine only charming damsels with panache can bring. The still photos of Nkrumah undertaking various engagements is welcome but as with soup this video could have been richer.
Despite being a vegetarian (no meat, fish, eggs, white sugar, flour, salt) doing the research to add footages of some of Nkrumah’s projects i.e. Tema motorway, planned communities, vehicle assembly plant and their current states, Osagyefo’s time in Guinea, his funeral, cover shots of his various books, his family photos etc. could have offered viewers variety they would have been thankful for.
Going forward, the Dub poet could provide information so consumers can know the outfit or brain behind his recent videos which offer viewers no information by way of producer.
Freedom is a precious commodity and it appears Blakk is seizing the opportunity to wrap up videos for his tunes, record new tunes, go on tours, do some writing and spend quality time with the family. it remains to be seen which media outlet would be willing to offer him the platform and ‘free hand’ to unleash his gifts on the capital.
Consume ‘Kwame Nkrumah’ by Blakk Rasta:
For years I for my part have reckoned that our Ghanaian artistes need not worry their heads over earning a Grammy so as to be acknowledged in America and Europe rather focusing and making a conscious effort to ‘cultivate’ and ‘harvest’ loyal fans in at least 30 countries out of the 54 on the continent is the way to go.
Imagine Sarkodie, Samini, Shatta Wale, VVIP, Obour, Stonebwoy, 4×4, Efya, Mzvee, Mzbel, AK de Songstress, Kaakie, Amakye Dede, Lumba, Kojo Antwi, Rex Omar, Kwesi Oteng, Grace Ashy, Obaapa Christie, No Tribe and countless others being household names in say Sierra Leone, Gambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Ethiopia, Congo, Togo and Somalia.
For so called managers of the Ghanaian artistes, the critical job is to make inroads in other countries such that the artistes’ music is played regularly on radio and television such that event organizers make contact to have those artistes headline shows far away from Ghana. By so doing the artistes stay relevant and make money at home and on the continent. With that Europe has no choice but to invite the artiste for shows and feature them on the charts.
This proposal might have been ignored but the recent Gabon experience might encourage managers to heed the plan. It appears Gabonese event organizers have found love for the Ghanaian acts.
In January, Kaakie was invited to perform in Gabon thanks to AFJ Productions and Airtel Gabon for the ‘Tous Derrière Les Pantheres’ (All Behind the Panthers) show. That show went well and then in September Shatta Wale and Guru as well as Ruff n Smooth had their invitation. It must be said that the love shown to our Ghanaian entertainers was massive indicating that when the right work is put in place language ought not be a barrier.
To say that Wale received perhaps the warmest reception in his career would be saying the gospel thanks to the huge crowd which welcomed and sustained him through his performance. Ras Deportee, a close ally of Shatta and Wale himself have opined that the Gabonese experience was fulfilling as they made good money and were shown some amazing love.
Sample Shatta’s performance here:
Enjoy the display by Guru in Gabon:
In a cluttered market, they must make noise to be heard and it perhaps explains why they throw challenges. For some, their first commercial music remains priceless and secures them occupancy in the music realm.
Obrafuor’s ‘Pae Mu Ka’, and Tinny’s ‘Makola Kwakwei’ can be mentioned so can Obour’s ‘Atentenben’ album and track bearing the same be cited.
//Light a spliff y’all
Should a road obstacle be present, shall traverse it with speed
Should it be a nut, would pound it ‘pim pim’
Should it be fufuo, shall swallow it ‘tim tim’
When cold, better sleep before the cold overbears you
Chorus: I am fearsome, Obour I am fearsome
Able to roll a stretch of road like mat
Vocal delivery breaks down buildings, if in doubt you can bear witness
Hurry and witness my deeds as if they were on a mirror
Even when shot at, shall bend the bullet
Can use the teeth to chew glass
Can even dance ‘Adowa’ using bare bottoms
Never snores lest sleep dominates me
When Lucifer is engaged for a game of ‘dami’, overwhelms him just as I overpower him in a game of ‘ludo’
Whiles others have difficulties being porters of heavy load, I use one hand to lift loads
I run on slippery slopes
Beverage which dazes many, I drink and stand strong
Spliffs which make folks to flounder, I smoke 16 rolls with ease
Not short yet not tall
Not a noise maker yet not an introvert
Rivers serve as my mirror
Taken on hundreds of men yet haven’t tasted defeat
Without wings yet flies as a hawk
Chorus: upon hearing my deeds, you must be petrified
Surprised? I chew iron roads with my teeth
Can grind you into flour
Have laid so a truck loaded with cement can pass over me without being killed or torn
What folks can’t do in the day, I perform at the break of dawn//
Obour was so spectacular in his audio delivery and flawless in the video that it became a matter of debate as to if indeed Bice Osei Kufuor could chew glass, cart away a fully loaded truck with his bare hands or indeed sprout from the earth as the video suggested. Little wonder then that ‘Atentenben‘ won three awards for Soul Records at the Ghana Music Awards in 2002 including Video of the year.
Obour was gingerly as he was fit and his lean frame aided his jumping and running. But in life except all other things being equal we don’t always have our way and so it is that a once fit ‘broda’ is today mocked for his plump frame especially his belly.
When one is tasked with a busy life style, health can suffer and in the MUSIGA president’s case, a charitable match in Kumasi pushed forward the need to engage in a series of action to regain fitness especially when the jersey could barely contain the bulge Obour had. Stunned observers and acrimonious ones took the chance to impugn wastefulness of the MUSIGA purse.
Thankfully, the ‘Dekyemenso’ native heeded wise counsel and has begun a program to shed some weight and already about 10 kg have been burnt although more work lies ahead.
While food surely can lead to increase and decrease of weight when not consumed in a balanced way, late night eating is the true culprit as the body has little time to work on the ingested particles before sleep leading to bloated tummies of which the president of the Musicians Union of Ghana got exposed by so wickedly.
Certain folks can be plump yet catching a glimpse of them is not displeasing to the eye. Such folks including Hammer and Zap Mallet although are fleshy have the advantage of height so counter the unpleasant sight of being fat and short. Obour lacks a few inches in height and explains why although there are other potbellied media folks like Henry Harding aka Papa Nii and Psalm Adjeteyfio he was fingered for special lambasting.
Thankfully Ben Asare, a fitness instructor whom Obour is working with seems keen to ensure the musician is delivered of his load in the midsection. Weighing 113kg some months before the media onslaught, the ‘Mesu Daiye’ hitmaker strives to reach the 70 kilos mark thanks to much exercise, good sleep, healthy eating involving soups, oatmeal, fruits and vegetables.
“I made a firm decision to do it for those who care about me, as a leader, I needed to do it. I had started snoring and could not play football as I used to do in the past so I realized I needed to do something about my weight,’’ he said.
Months into the lifestyle change Obour conceded: “ I can now fit comfortably in my clothes and the feeling is just great. No more tight fitting attires. And my tummy has gone down too.”
Seeking a second term for any president is never easy and such is the fate which faces the MUSIGA president who wants the music family to elect him again to complete his projects but who faces stiff competition from good old Gyedu-Blay Ambolley whom he beat last time around but has continuously heaped hot coal on the ‘Kokontiba’ musician.
For Ambolley, Akosua Adjapong and likeminded folks, Obour’s divide and rule tactics cannot be countenanced and must be booted out but the University of Ghana alumnus is not one to be cowered.
His sheer victory bringing him to power astonished many who wrote him off considering the opposition he faced (Gyedu Blay Ambolley, Nana Tuffour, Willie Roy) and it appears the ‘Stone’ remains resolute in the face of adversity.
On why he deserves a second term as a MUSIGA president, the social campaigner states that he has brought goodwill to the MUSIGA brand, put in structures to address disputes and internal affairs, sought the financial welfare of members, organized the MUSIGA ball, given young musicians the chance to shine at administrative work while tapping into the wisdom and experience of the elderly.
The Adwinfi and Family Tree Entertainment label boss is not averse to adversity but one who embraces it and forges on. On December28, 2003 a near death accident for Obour which claimed the life of his then girlfriend at Lartebiokoshie could have ended his thriving career but Obour rose to the challenge shooting a record breaking video ‘Men Wu Biom’ estimated to have cost 32m cedis in 2004 chronicling his victory over death.
And in similar fashion, Bice Osei Kufour; Ghana’s music export, the poet and inventor of heart pumping stage performances must not be allowed to waste in ‘Obeseland’, he ought to be encouraged by all music lovers to continue to write music and perform them to keep the body in action whether he wins the MUSIGA bid for the second time or not.
His albums include Atentenben, Akademua, Dondo and Atumpan. The first recipient of the World Bank Music for Development Award has churned out classics including Palm Wine, Konkontiba, Atentenben, Me Su Dayie, Nana Obour and sounds done with highlife icon A.B Crentsil.
Life for any start-up can be bruising and the duo known as 2Tight comprising Benjamin Okyere a.k.a Figaro and David Quarcoo easily identified as Bra Skraches isn’t any different but scaling the hurdles the young chaps have offered two new singles for fans to consume.
‘Boys Bedidi’ produced by Dr. Ray opens with proverbs such as ‘when in torn clothing one ought not to engage in games which could easily expose one’s nakedness’. Skraches observes that when one perseveres and endeavors, he deserves to be assisted but folks are killing the dreams of the youth adding even when guys hustle and keep on their grind, the system crushes their efforts.
The chorus however offers some hope with the lines boys shall eat//girls shall eat//everyone shall eat.
Figaro offers crisp singing encouraging folks to keep the faith adding even when his cup is empty he shall praise the supreme divine. The two chaps further declare war on evil schemes of relations and acquaintances while urging folks to be industrious.
2 Tight’s second single ‘Social Network’ also produced by Dr. Ray speaks to the issue of long distance relationship challenges. Bearing a ragga flavour, Skraches talks about a lover who has sojourned to another land but whose absence is causing much inconvenience.
Skraches explains even though he sees pictures of his love on social media platforms such as skype, facebook and twitter amidst frequent chats and talk; as a man, there are things pictures and talk cannot do except the real deal is felt which the ‘young fellow’ eagerly awaits.
Figaro comes in urging his love to return as sleeping alone is taking a toll adding that even birds who cover large spaces return to their roots.
Having a vocalist in Figaro and a rapper in Bra Skraches, the two combine sweetly to offer something music fans can consume without side effect. Having known each other since their Senior Secondary school days, the mates performed individually at school shows and other such avenues till a chance collaboration proved fruitful having been received well by the fans.
“Even though we realized that we had a future as a duo, securing a manager to book studio section proved difficult. We nearly went our separate ways but the fans urged us on till Tema based Ebo Taylor of TAYLOR MUSIQ RECORDZ heard a demo of ours being played in the studio we had just done the piece. When the engineer advised we master the song since the content was solid, a friend of his pledged to manage us and the rest as they say is history.” Bra Skraches recalled.
Having bias for afro pop, hiplife and dancehall music, the duo’s vision is to enhance the offerings in the Ghanaian music industry with emphasis on portraying Ghana’s culture and values to the globe.
Artist Figaro and Bra Skraches look up to include Bob Marley, Sarkodie, Obrafour, R2Bees, Flavour and EL.
This is a bold outing from the Tema based lads. With hard work and more tunes 2Tight can make a living off music and become the music ambassadors they so keenly wish for.
Folks can reach them on Twitter: @2tightgh & Facebook: 2tight Gh.
Enjoy 2tight’s tunes:
Award winning rapper and musician Michael Kwesi Owusu Addo easily availed himself for interviews prior to the launch of his 4th album at the West Hills Mall and while on Hitz FM being hosted by new recruit Dr. Pounds, the leader of the Sark nation made a startling revelation albeit made in the humorous vein.
“What Joey wants to do which can hurt is…you see after dropping a used clothing…he is a good keeper so every Saturday after doing the laundry, he comes to possess some of my clothing… the torn trousers… Now Pappy Kojo has joined. After my body has tasted clothing it goes to this 2.”
The illuminati hitmaker made this known while Joey had been brought on the line and while it seemed to be good humour, the ‘tonga’ hitmaker shifted gear entreating folks to attend the mall event and show Sark some love. It remains to be seen if fashion observers can track certain clothes put on by Sark which might have found their way on the bodies of Joey and Pappy.
Still on Sark’s visit to Hitz FM, Mr. Addo explained to host Dr. Pounds that “the media plays a critical role in the work of an artist but an artist also holds opinion. I have never been a mean person rather I am a calm person but am growing more confident. As I advance my career I am constrained by my brand and can’t do certain things but that is not arrogance” he opined.
The discovery story of Sarkodie cannot be told without the contribution of ex Adom FM and X FM presenter Dr. Duncan being mentioned and so when the initiator of the ‘oh joe’ phrase was brought on line, Sarkodie paid homage and thanked the fleshy man for his love and care while Duncan for his part blessed his prodigy for keeping the shine on and making all proud’.
Asked in what way he loved to give back to Adom FM, being the station on whose platform the ‘Kasahare’ show exposed him to the world, the ‘Bounce’ musician stated should Adom FM offer a platform to host music lovers for free, he is willing to perform his songs for free till everyone is exhausted.