Okay, it is fine with me if these one-hit-wonder kids say they do not brand their music hiplife , after all, they do their songs and I can’t define it for them; but to go on and assert that, “ Hiplife is washed up, Hiplife is dead?” They proceeded to infuriate me with comments like “Go to the clubs and check if they do play hiplife, everyone is going the Nigerian trend of music and people mistakenly think our song is Nigerian made.”
These R2Bees guys and the many upcoming hiplife artistes now clamouring to be referred to as Hiphop artistes are visionless, lack insight and lack focus, to say the least. For wanting to disrespect the brand that paved the way for them, wanting to copy another country’s trend of making music at the expense of demurring and wanting to be in the same league as the original makers of hiphop, I would call such persons – dullards.
Wikipedia, a free internet encyclopedia defines hiplife as an innovative Ghanaian fusion of highlife and hiphop that is comparable to a mix of raggaeton, dancehall, reggae and Ghanaian highlife music. I like the verb ‘innovative’ that means creativity, thinking and coming out with something extraordinary, different from the normal.
That is what hiplife is, a genre that is different from RnB, Hiphop, Jazz, Soul and all that, a genre that the world embraced as coming from a tiny country in West Africa called Ghana. If hiplife was projected in a modern, business-moulded way, it would be featuring in the Billboard Top 100 and garnering acclaimed, but due to lack of business savvy and insight, the genre seems to be standing still, not seeming to surge forward and definitely not dead.
Back to R2Bees; if these guys have thought to propagate hiplife, to continue to expose it like Samini single-handedly did by picking up a MOBO award with a hiplife song and notching a nomination in the MTV VMA.
Like Praye and Reggie did by winning a KORA award respectively with hiplife, like VIP did by winning a Channel O music award with hiplife, these guys would not be talking about copying the D’banjs, the P Squares and the 9Nices. They would not disturb us with going international when the word ‘international’ for a Ghanaian artiste ends in Nigeria. Yes oooh, when a Ghana man gets airplay and two gigs in neighboring Nigeria, he claims he has gone international. Interestingly, when these people come around boasting they have massive shows in US, UK and co., do not be deceived; they only go to perform to a small section of Ghanaian community. International indeed!
Why would you want to sell in US, UK and brand your music hiphop? Any ardent lover of hiphop would rather pick a D12 album than pop an album by some African kids trying their hands on something they cannot master. However, a curious hiphop lover walking through the racks upon seeing an appealing album cover telling him/her that this is a hiplife album, a mix of hiplife and hiphop, the possibility of him/her picking that album is great.
Therefore, I hear the likes of R2Bees shunning hiplife and then I look out for whom to blame and I get no other person than the so-called ‘grandpapa’ of hiplife, Reggie Rockstone.
I hear these guys doing crunk and I applaud them but they should not get it twisted that by trying to do something similar to crunk, you are a hiphop artiste which would make you sell outside; because Lil’ Jon and his crunk music was last heard in 2006. It is not in the hottest thing no more. Yes, these people can rap, it is incredible how they rhyme and all but, you cannot do it better than Lupe Fiasco, Joe Budden and Young Jeezy (I won’t even mention the Jays, the 50s, the Kanyes), so stick to your hiplife!
I respect Reggie so much for originating hiplife and if the genre is touted to be dying, I hold him responsible. In fact, Reggie is credited with the coinage of hiplife, that I saw in the documentary ‘Living the Hiplife’ - a documentary that was screened across the United States, Canada and UK. Reggie let hiplife down bigtime. The man failed woefully to brand hiplife in the business setting. No website on hiplife to educate the masses on the genesis, the influence and benefits on hiplife, no books, newsletters on hiplife, no hiplife TV series, no enlightenment on hiplife endorsement deals, no business-related seminars and fora. Reggie just brought it but gave it no direction, so these young ones came to do it, got stuck, left the music and many are in foreign countries now doing something else to make a living.
It was for these reasons that I was livid with Reggie when he wished to be compared to Jay-Z during the latter’s visit to Ghana. Come on dude, Jay is worth $300 million dollars culminating from album sales, sold-out concerts, mega endorsement deals, record label, clothing line, sneakers, fragrance, and part ownership of the New York Nets and others.
Oddly and exasperating enough, in several radio interviews in 2004, Reggie stated emphatically that he does not perform hiplife. So, if the ‘grandpapa’, if the shepherd says he do not do hiplife, what should the lamb say?
What am I hearing? Members of the categorization committee of the 2009 Ghana Music Awards are confounded on presenting awards for hiplife or hip-hop. We wait to see.
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