From The Industry

Free Youth: Ghana’s first Hip hop trio of 1985

In this day and age of reminiscing some good old Ghanaian tunes and even artistically merging it into today’s hits by some new Lords like Kuami Eugene, let’s take a look at what was the first ever Ghanaian Hip Hop jam back in the day by the trio, Free Youth.

Around the early 80s the three members – brothers Terry “Sir Robot” Bright and Abednego “King Abed” Ayim Bright, and their friend Lenny “Nii Addy” Dimple – began regularly dancing and singing at clubs and parties in Accra, with other dancers occasionally joining them on stage – including Reggie Rockstone, credited with being one of the pioneers of the hip-life genre in the mid 90s.

But the roots of Ghanian hip-hop can be traced back nearly 10 years earlier with Free Youth’s single, as well as with highlife stars such as Gyedu-Blay Ambolley and K. K. Kabobo experimenting with semi-rap lyrics.

Free Youth were beginning to make a name for themselves as an entertainment group when the band caught the attention of the producer George Alhassan, who invited them to record music.

Out of this session came numerous tracks, including “We Can Move”, a blend of hip-hop and Afro-funk, with a proto disco-boogie beat, punchy trumpet riffs and melodic rapping. It was selected as the lead track for their first 7” single, with the B side to feature an advertising jingle for Freedom Video Centre, a business associated with their executive producer.

In a series of unlucky incidents, the band never saw any royalties, nor did any of the band members lay their hands on a copy of the vinyl. Later on, they heard 2,000 copies of the 7” had been pressed in the Netherlands but it was never released for sale in their home country.

“We Can Move” is one of the first known examples of Ghanaian hip hop, emerging at the dawn of ‘hip-life’.

Nevertheless, London-based independent label, Soundway Records has brought back to life a high-quality reissue of Free Youth’s long sought-after 1985 single “We Can Move”, the trio’s only release originally pressed on 7″ vinyl.

We take our hats off for the pacesetters of music brewed in the Ghanaian pot of which top acts like Sarkodie are now thriving on.

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Emmanuel Ghansah, Ghana Music

Singer, Songwriter, scriptwriter, blogger, lover of the creative arts, brands and communications expert.

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