Obrafour took hiplife to a whole new level, after Reggie Rockstone cut a name for himself as pioneer. Out of his desire to make the trade more commercial, he took to several commercial merchandise including OB4 Wear, a clothing line, which was a spin off of a highly successful career at the time.
Execution Diary, an idea to put on one big compilation, a group of young, fairly established, and upcoming acts, saw the light of day, kicking off what would later become the mainstream career of most of the acts featured on the project.
Enewsgh.com?s Abdullai Isshak talks to Mohammed Khan Adae, one of the very few people around at the time who saw how it all got off to a start. Then General Manager of Obrafuor?s Execution Entertainment, Addae offers some background to what he calls ?Obrafuor?s Diary?.
How did you meet Obrafuor?
I was working at Abib Records, a label that was handling Buk Bak in the early 2000?s until Abib decided to move from music production to construction. And I knew Obrafuor through a friend and gave him call one day and when I told him Abib Records had rolled up; he invited me to work on his ?Tofa? album. The promotion was a bit slow and album sales were low, so we strategized and made ?Oye Ohene? remix with Tinny to revamp the campaign and it caught like wild fire.
I met Hammer in 2003 and it was through Obrafuor that I got to know Hammer and the two understood each other so much considering how easy they made it looked when they had records to make. And all this happened because at the time I was the General Manager of Execution Entertainment. And my first assignment which involved the two was to manage ?The Execution Diary? hosted by Obrafuor. He and Hammer understood each other so well and the telepathy was so great the two always trusted the other of handling things well in each other?s absence.
How did the compilation come about?
Talks about it stated in 2004. Obrafuor had released hit albums including ?Pae Muka?, ?Asem Sebe?, ?Tofa? which had ?Oye Ohene?. There were so many boys at Hush Hush Studios where Hammer was based at the time waiting for Hammer to record their albums but since he (Obrafuor) believed in the talents he saw everyday at the studio, he went into talks with Hammer and work started in early 2004.
Let?s go back into time. What were some of the songs on the album?
I remember Mantse (now running AccraDotAlt) doing the intro, outro and introduction of the artists on the compilation. There was ?Oye Nonsense? by Kwaw Kese, ?Opabeni? by Okyeame Kwame, ?Heko Ejor Ko? (I believe I can Fly) by Tinny, and ?Mad? by Hot Core. I also remember ?Susu Dwin Meho? by Dogo, ?Ayekoo? by Okra Tom which featured Tinny, ?Kp3kp3l3? by 4X4 and this featured Castro and there was ?Kornu Saa Mame? by Yoggi Doggy featuring Bandana (Shatta Wale), and then a purely English rap song ?Accra?s Finest? by D Black and some other Hip Hop guys at the time.
What inspired the coming into being of the Execution Dairy?
I stand to be corrected but I think it was the first compilation album to ever hit Ghana and it worked so perfect we are still enjoying tunes from the talents that were unearthed. Okyeame Kwame, Dogo, Castro, Yoggi Doggi, 4X4, and Tinny were established artists at the time and came to support the compilation and were paid for laying their vocals to give the compilation some weight.
And we wanted to capture and build the industry?s future at a go and so we put D Black together with some other hardcore hip hop roots on one beat to show their skills too as far back as 2003.
So it was after that compilation that Hammer rolled out his ?Sounds of Our Time? compilation, then Appiatus and the rest started following. And the compilations have really helped because it has really brought forth many talents the industry would have crash under its heavy pressure. Talk about working budgets and personnel you can trust coupled with industry politics; the industry can be likened to a jungle that might have devoured many of these talents hadn?t it be for this compilation.
And when a producer is making a compilation that?s going to have his name on it, he will put in extra work to have all rough edges smoothened so he also gains that industry respect because people are going to judge his production at all cost.
Walk us through it?s creation?
Hammer had produced a number of beats before all the known artists were called and when they were called and the business side was cleared, we gave them a chance to listen to all the ten beats and they chose which they think were their kind of beat. Then later Obrafuor will come into the studio listen to the vocals recorded and then write the chorus to the songs and it also felt right because he wanted to give these undergrounds a chance to shine.
In your view, who amongst the lot on the compilation, stood out?
That compilation gave birth to Kwaw Kese, he was Dogo?s friend and when he arrived at the Hush Hush Studios not many taught he could stand the competition but that lied on Richard Agyeman Berko (former manager of Tinny and now manager of Afriyie and part of Becca?s EKB Records) who was handling A&R and Hammer.
This was Obrafuor?s compilation album and your work will be put on the same CD as Obrafuor?s, so you had no option but to put everything on the table to make the cut. And luckily for him, ?Oye Nonsense? was an instant hit.
Promoting it wasn?t that much of a hustle. Was it?
After all the songs were ready for the market, we chose six out of the ten to be on the promo CD because we were looking to satisfy a very diverse population and we wanted variety. And I took the CD to every part of Ghana and gave it out for the DJ?s to choose the song they taught suited their audience. And someone like KOD got hooked on to Kwaw Kese?s ?Oye Nonsense? and that gave birth to a very wonderful partnership from there. Okra Tom and Tinny?s ?Ayekoo? made waves, 4?4?s ?F3f3l3?, and Tinny?s ?I Believe I Can Fly?.
These four songs really was a game changer and considering Tinny and 4X4 making hits on the compilation we were vindicated the compilation was a success. We were also very pleased when about 250,000 copies of the cassettes were sold. We launched it in Kumasi with the help of Okomfuor Kwadee and except 4X4 who had a gig in USA at the time; we took the whole crew there.
Of course Hammer of the Last Two played a crucial role in all of these. How was his skill set like back then?
Hammer is straight forward as a sound engineer and he knows his skills set and understand what he does. He is not that kind of sound engineer who lumps up all the work unto himself. He believes in specialisation and he lays the beat, vocals and do touch ups before another person whom he believes has good ear for final cut comes in and finishes the work. At the time, it was Ubeat who did most of the final works.
Thanks for talking to us
Source: Abdullai Isshak