I?m having flashbacks of a young lad waving a Ghana flag and jumping from one end of the stage to the other as i peep through my window this morning, yes! And after a decade or so, that young man has metamorphosed into the self-acclaimed ?King of Dancehall?. But long before he achieved this feat, that genre of music was almost extinct but for a certain Samini who single handedly held the fort for dancehall music in an era when the genre had lost its relevance in the industry.
I grew up on Ghanaian music and specifically Hi-Life and Hip-Life. For the purposes of this write-up, I will focus on a sub-genre of Hip-life. I recall how big General Marcus and Root-I were, though I was relatively young by then. However, by the time Pricky?s ?Obaa F3f33f3? track became a hit in the late 90?s; I had hit my teens and have vivid memories from that era. That arguably could have been how the genre started, then the likes of Sonni Balli, Yoggi Doggi, Aberewa Nana, and the late Ronnie Coaches also blazed the trail.
Terry Bonchaka of blessed memory, Batman (now Samini), Bandana (now Shata Wale), Borax and Mad Fish also ushered us into the early years of the new century. By this time, the genre had started gaining grounds and consequently branded Rag-Life, a name that clearly was coined out of two genres, Ragga and Hip-Life. It had almost become impossible for any song to be a hit without a Rag-Life artiste been featured on it.
One lost trail on the number of times Batman featured on several hit songs with King Davids? ?Aaye fe nots3? perhaps been the biggest. Bandana?s ?No Problem? and ?Moko Hoo? which had strong backings from Tinny were also massive hits in that era, not to forget the exploits of the ?Puulele? man Terry Bonchaka that was short lived. Sonni Bali also ?slew? Mary Agyepong?s ?Ade d3d3? song. I can?t turn a blind eye to Yoggie Doggie who I still reminisce for his verses on Akyeame?s ?Mesan Aba? and the ?Police Abaa song by Nana Nsiah Piesie. Mad Fish also surfaced years later with ?Yahooya? which became a chat topper, but many thought he was a replica of Yoggi Doggi and that sparked some sort of battle between the two artistes, however, they fizzled out over time.
That nonetheless wasn?t the first feud in the industry and wasn?t to be the last. Ex-Doe and Chicago had set the stage rolling years before, then the Batman-Ronnie Coaches beef also emerged, but after the well-built Ronnie had dished out a couple of slaps to a then muscle less Batman, that beef also fizzled. The genre had taken a nose dive but that was long after Mr. Borax hypnotized Ghanaians with that banger of a verse on Daddy Lumba?s ?Ase3ho?.
The fore bearers of the flag for Rag-Life then went on a vacation which will turn out to be lengthy. However, one out of the lot decided to be relevant when the genre had become irrelevant to Ghanaians. He decided to wean himself off Nana Kings? Ashanti International record label, Sonni Balli, and his Trinity group which had KK Fosu and Kokoveli as members. He then rebranded himself alongside the genre, and that gave birth to Samini and Ghana?s Dancehall genre.
For several years, Samini delivered hit songs after the other; he had become the face of not just Ghana?s dancehall music but the face of Ghanaian music across the continent. From local to international awards, he swept it all. The brand ?Samini? had become a yardstick to which artistes were been measured; he became a brand ambassador for Ghana?s largest telecommunication company MTN. Then on one of the editions of TV3?s flagship program ?Music Music?, Samini did the unthinkable, he performed to a live band, and mine oh mine! He rocked!
After many of such adrenaline-charged performances within Ghana and beyond, his fans conferred on him the name ?Africa?s Dancehall Stopper?. For a decade, Samini stood and flew the flag for dancehall music. Within these period, Bandana had gone into hibernation, and for those of us who had fallen in love with his ?Moko Hoo? days; we wondered of his whereabouts? and only kept hopes alive that, Bandana will make a comeback sometime in the future.
Then finally, in the build up to the VGMA?s 2013, Bandana re-surfaced, but with a different name and a city of his own. ?Shata City? was the song, and Shata Wale was the name. The unfolding events at the awards night in the wake of Shata losing out to who many termed as Samini?s offshoot, Kakie, brought sour grapes to Shata. Before anyone could say jack, he released a ?diss? song as he took a dig at the organizers of the awards, Charter House, Samini and Kaakie also had their fair share from it. Worldwide, the dancehall genre itself, had thrived on beefs and battles, hence many saw it as a normal sequence Shata Wale had taken. Jamaican stars Mavado and Vybz Kartel had to put their beef to rest only after an intervention from the Jamaican government. That?s how far feuds in the dancehall industry gets.
As the weeks wore on, it became evidently clear Shata Wale had finally decided to be relevant once again in the industry. He had parted ways with manager, Mr. Logic. A man many say stood by Shata Wale through difficult periods. The artiste then made his way into the camp of current manager Bulldog and signed on to BullHaus Entertainment.
Shata Wale?s popularity had attained new heights; it had evolved into a movement, almost becoming a cult. My 4yr old nephew now wanted to be called Shata, and I?m quite sure this scenario replicated in many homes. In a very short period, the man Shata had released several hit singles, his grudge with Charter House got nasty, not to talk about that with Samini and his offshoots, Kakie and Stonebuoy, who have become the new generation of Ghana?s dancehall music.
But in the most shocking of all these, he took a dirty dig at former manager, Mr. Logic. Understandably, fame was beginning to take a better part of him, and as that old adage says ?you don?t bite a finger that once fed you?; Shata Wale bit that finger. Mr. Logic perhaps took it in good strides and has worked hard to produce yet again, another dancehall prodigy, AK Songstress who I?m of a conviction might turn out as Aberewa Nana?s apparent heir.
With an upcoming music awards gazing at Shata Wale, he killed the pride and the peace pipe was smoked with the organizers of the music awards, Charter House. Nevertheless, just a few days to the awards night, news of an ?appearance fee? (apologies to black stars) been demanded by Shata before he performed at the event became ripe. With both parties not agreeing to a fee, the event went ahead without his performance, but one performer that stood tall that night was Shata Wale?s competitor, Samini. As usual of his live performances, Samini thrilled the audience to some great renditions of his songs and topped it up with his hit single ?Gbee bi?; a song many have said is a jab at Shata Wale. The song literary means, ?take a look at the puppy scrambling over my remnants?.
In a not too surprising manner, Shata Wale on the night nicked 3 awards with the coveted artiste of the year been the biggest, surprisingly he was absent at the event. By now, he had become ?The Dancehall King?, he showed up outside the event venue to celebrate his victory in grand style. That was a great feat chalked.
His value after the awards sky rocketed; he mounted the stage at almost every important event and delivered some spectacular performances. But when it counted most and the stakes were high, he withered to Samini?s performance at the Guinness Big Eruption Concert. Connoisseurs in the industry, adjudged Samini the best on the night, Shata Wale had to explain later that, he appeared on stage just after been discharged from a hospital where he was on admission.
Fast forward, just like his biggest competitor Samini, corporate Ghana fell in love with Shata Wale and he is now a brand icon for Guinness in the ?Made of Black? campaign. However, in the past few weeks, selfie videos of Shata Wale popped up on social media networks. In the said videos, he accuses Charter House and its CEO Mr Iyiola Ayoade, of being corrupt and refusing to air his music videos on their TV channel GhOne. He further tells Mr. Ayoade, Charter House and GhOne TV to ?stop fooling? and show him some respect.
Mr Ayoade sought for legal counsel and has subsequently filed a suit of defamation against Shata Waleseeking?damages of ten million Ghana cedis. But in his self-acclaimed militant style, he has recorded a new single after been served the suit. His message in the song is simple, he seems to be telling us of how broke Charter House as an entity is, and hence their suit of 10 million is to raise funds to revive their operations.
In the past days, I have heard various big names in the industry calling on Charter House to drop the case for an out of court settlement for the good of the industry whilst others have also called on the ?Dancehall King? to apologise. Amongst the many of such persons has been none other than ?Africas Dancehall Stopper? Samini.
On Etv?s Late Night Celebrity Show with new host Giovani, Samini called on Iyiola Ayoade and Charter house to opt for an out of court settlement, he also promised to get in touch with MUSIGA President Obour to see how best the music body can intervene. Furthermore, Samini sent a word of advice to Shata Wale to render an apology and categorically stressed that the apology must be that of remorse and not arrogance. Was Samini showing maturity? Or as it?s said, he just had to rub it in?
Personally, I will love to see this legal battle travel its full length, it will be a test case for the industry. However, that is a sole decision of the plaintiffs. With the election petition in hindsight, I wouldn?t want to sound pre-judicial and end up being another Atubiga or Ken Kuranchie. Whatever the outcome of the suit, my fervent hope is that, dancehall music as a genre must be the ultimate winner.
As i ?shut my windows on the sun rays, I will be hoping Shata Wale invests the time he uses to record ?diss? songs to rather record songs that will outlive him, Samini by far has done that. With my ?Nobody? status, I know Shata Wale will spare me a ?diss? song for setting the records straight.
By: Nana Yaw Sam
Email: [email protected]