They have been on the underground since and, today, they rule Ghana’s hip-hop scene with two singles off their forthcoming debut album, ‘Da Revolution’.
The word R2Bees comes from the group’s mantra which is ‘refuse to be broke’, which has become some form of inspiration for the youth of Tema, the community where they grew up. With songs like ‘I dey Mad’ and ‘Yawa Girls’ making the rotation on Channel O, MTV Base and, soon, on Trace Africa; and the group’s desire to take on Africa, R2Bees are certainly one of the groups to watch out for in Africa this year.
How do you describe your music?
We do urban music, nothing else. The influence comes from anything that happens around us, we don’t really direct it. Our songs can be classified under the ‘music’ category because we do dancehall, hip-hop and a little bit of hiplife. We haven’t thrown our identity away; we have songs in the vernacular but they have an international feel to them. Hip-hop is a black culture thing; it’s not for Americans. But in Ghana when we rap in English people tend to say that we are trying to steal someone’s culture. It is black people’s culture so wherever you find yourself and you are black, you can represent the culture of hip-hop; and that is what we are doing.
So what in your opinion is the underlying problem?
First it has to do with the industry and that’s the reason why R2bees is here. We are trying to upgrade a downgraded industry. We are now in the mainstream and we have had the chance to identify some of the problems in the industry. The industry needs overhauling; it’s no industry at all. That is why people are out with their 5th, 6th and 7th album and they are still broke as hell while people in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa are living the life with their debut album.
Is that what you are trying to change with the ‘ Da Revolution’ album?
It explains itself, the revolution, it’s a new era. Love it or hate it, it’s a new day.
What is the content of the album like?
We are still toying around it. The album was supposed to come out December 2008 but we postponed it because we are hitting big in Nigeria right now. We don’t want to release the album on separate dates in Ghana and Nigeria. Looking at the way our songs are doing well in Nigeria, we are looking at launching it across Africa and not just Ghana. It’s a new era. When you listen to songs on the album, you get to realise that this is reality rap, and not some wannabe or fictional stuff. You get to feel some of the things we’ve been through in life. Also, we are privileged to have our own label and so we are able to do what we want to do. We get the chance to do what we want to do and we did songs that we really love and we think the public loves as well.
What is the direction of the album in terms of lyrics?
The direction is reality. We are underprivileged people from the ghettoes of Tema Community 1 Site 15, a place where only the strong survive and we never had role models. But right now, back in our hood everybody in our generation wants to be like us.
As new acts, do you have any collaborations on the album?
We have a song with Samini and we will shoot the video very soon. We are really toying with the song title; we are contemplating on calling it ‘Run the City’ or ‘Clash of the Titans’ because all parties killed it on the song. We are also doing remixes of ‘I dey Mad’. We want to have the bashment remix featuring DJ Black and Sarkodie. And on the main remix, we want to have 9ice and Kwaw Kesse on it.
What has been the public’s response to your music?
It’s been wicked! We have been around in the industry inactively for a long time hustling and music was like the last option. But for a song like ‘Yawa Girl’ to be the number one ringtone in Ghana for so long, we are privileged to have the reception we are getting now. Sometimes we wonder is this what music is all about? We just did this and it is making so much noise. We promise you that you can’t skip a track on our 17-track album, its all massive tracks.
What should Africa expect from R2Bees?
Fire! Pure fire!
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