Music has gradually moved from its primitive era where all music offered were recognition, fame and respect to a current status as a multi-million dollar industry. With the entire fan and excitement, music globally is putting just more then food on the table for several souls.
Hiplife is contemporary era music genre, a fusion of Ghanaian premier music genre Highlife and America’s Hip Hop music. Hiplife has eventually come to stay without any doubt. It’s caught up well with the youth whom serve as the preachers of the ‘musical gospel’. Hip Life as a brand began as songs with rap lyrics in any GH dialect over Hip Hop beats.
This changed with time as the then little known genre got deepened with the introduction of African variants in beats. This added on a sense of originality as well as winning more admirers among the older generation.
Though regarded as the biggest and most sorted after musical genre in the land of gold, Hiplife has failed to provide its most cherished followers with a definite origin. A complicated controversy builds up anytime the genre’s origin comes into treatise. Reggie Rocstone has over time been referred to as the originator of Hiplife, hence the name Grand Papa depicting his status as a founder. This is always met with strong opposition from musical connoisseurs, who continually dismiss the notion and thinks Reggie is no God father.
After my research on the subject, it is obvious there are various opinions on this issue based on which camp the critic is rooting for. But a revelation which stands as a fact is that songs with lyrics in GH dialects over Hip Hop beats goes beyond the 90’s. Dynamic Lady Talata was tasked with finding a manager and recording deal for a La based group whom rapped in their native Ga language over Hip beats somewhere around 1985. This is a true vindication that Hiplife’s kind existed even when no one had heard the name Reggie Rockstone.
Panji Anoff is one other personality that comes up anytime the issue of Hiplife’s genesis comes into the spotlight. Several followers of the arts are of the opinion Panji deserve the title of the Godfather rather than Rockstone. Panji, an Afrocentric producer touched base in GH in 1991 and started works with Kwaku T and friends, then of Ghana International School. This resulted in the astounding group of Talking Drum. With his creativity and dedication to the trade, Panji in the early part of 1993 had put out a track ‘Aden’, a Twi track no different from any contemporary Hiplife song.
It was after ‘Aden’ had been released that Reggie surfaced in the GH supposed to be attending the then vibrant Pan African festival, Panafest. Reggie, a former martial arts expect was rumoured to have been working on a musical project in the land of the Queen. He later relocated to GH to continue his musical project, switching from English based songs to ones in a GH lingua, Twi. A single titled “Tsoo Boi’ was recorded and released by the then young adrenaline filled young emcee. A new phase in GH music emerged as Reggie went all height with commercials and promotions. Vibe FM, the newly and hip oriented media house at then were of great service with free and unlimited airplay.
Michael Cook, owner of the then hottest Vibe Fm accidentally is brought into this complexity most often. His role to the genre was only in the field of promotions as he gave out his outfit as an avenue for the growth of Hiplife, a name coined by Reggie for the genre. So it will forever remain a dubious fallacy for ignoramus in the arts to attribute him with the God Father role. Not even his contributions to UK’s music scene are enough to win for him such a role in his homeland.
On the basis of chronology, one wonders if Reggie can continue to hold himself as the originator of the current music craze. What happens to the likes of Paracetamol, Dansoman Connection and NFL, groups which were very active and gave the genre its much determined respect? It won’t be wrong to regard Reggie as Promoter of Hiplife rather than refer to him as an originator. Can Reggie then be listed on the roll call of pioneers who failed to eat off the trade they did established?
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