Stonebwoy is undoubtedly one of Ghana’s biggest musical exports. The Afropop, Dancehall, and Reggae musician has won a plethora of awards and recognition, toured many countries across the world, and was recently signed by Universal Music Group’s Def Jam Recordings — one of the world’s leading music companies — which has heavyweights like Justin Bieber and Kanye West, among others, in its roaster. In this interview with TheCable Lifestyle, the 34-year-old singer gives his two cents on the controversial debate on “If Nigerian artistes support their Ghanaian counterparts”. He also argues that Reggae music belongs to Africans — and not the people of the Caribbean.
TheCable Lifestyle: What spurred you into choosing Reggae as your genre of music?
Stonebwoy: I chose Reggae because it’s the most relatable way I could express my talent. And I think over the years, I have proven that it’s not the only avenue I can express my creativity through but it’s actually the foundation because I can relate to the message and the style that it brings.
Dancehall and Reggae music is the avenue that I think is the most comfortable for me and what I really relate to.
TheCable Lifestyle: Many would argue that Reggae is not an African thing. What is your viewpoint on it?
Stonebwoy: Reggae is rooted in the heart of Africa. It’s not a foreign style or movement. It only has more consciousness and awareness attached to that style of music.
Even our Afrobeats of today also stem out from the highlife core, where the highlife core tells stories and brings people to consciousness. Whether Reggae, Dancehall, Highlife, or Afrobeats, they all come from the same source.
To me, it’s not that it’s very difficult to actually express oneself with those styles, all those names in Jamaican. Remember that Jamaicans are all Africans by virtue of the slave trade. So, it’s just the music that we’re doing back again.
Music is music, you have just got to present it well and find the manner in which you can express yourself the best and the most.
I’m not the only one doing it, there are tons and tons of people, who are inspired by that genre of music. It doesn’t belong to any Caribbean society from its core. It belongs to Africans and we are enjoying it in diverse ways.
TheCable Lifestyle: As an accomplished artiste, what part of your career do you think you haven’t explored yet?
Stonebwoy: So far so good I’ve charted far and beyond and I just want to develop and grow. So, basically to whom much is given, much is expected. I have proven myself. From a dancehall Reggae base, I have been able to throw my tentacles all across. I have been able to collaborate with several artistes across the board.
I think I have enough already to deal with, therefore I pray to God to give me strength so that I can push further because there is a lot more room for growth.
And later we can take it further to something really strange, but once it’s the music that falls into the DNA of black people, then I think I’m privileged enough to try and test and do.
TheCable Lifestyle: Ayo Sonaiya, the Nigerian music business executive, claimed in his documentary that Afrobeats originated from Ghana, is this true?
Stonebwoy: If it was a Ghanaian saying it, then I’d think it can be up for a debate a little bit but I think Ayo would not do research over the years of his contribution in the industry to share with Africans and fellows all over the world any form of lies.
This doesn’t create any form of competition. It’s all about education and level of understanding that primarily we share a lot of historical records, we are the same people.
If its stems from Ghana, I think credit should be given to those brothers where it stems from. If it rolls to the highest of heights by Nigerians, we also have to acknowledge the fact that it’s our other sister who has done this. That’s the kind of mentality we need to have.
I’m proud to be a Ghanaian and to date, it is very obvious that there are several other people across the continent who create different stuff that Nigeria as a brother sells better. Like the new Amapiano – most Amapiano sound that we’re really enjoying come out from Nigeria. And the Afrobeats has opened so much so that it contains anything and any kind of inspiration of today.
Basically, there is a lot of education to be done, so we all understand that it’s instead an umbrella representation of Africans than a particular region. There are different spices from different places that come to form today’s Afrobeats that we are proud of.
TheCable Lifestyle: In that vein, do you think Shatta Wale was correct to say Nigerian artistes don’t support Ghanaian artists?
Stonebwoy: I cannot make an explanation for someone who made certain points because only they have the details that necessitated that points. But, we are all playing roles in Africa, therefore, our Nigeria brothers have paved the way and have continued to push the level to the highest of tops, therefore if they can, they are the ones to drive everybody along, that was the kind of submission I made when this matter came up.
I believe I’m not an ignorant artiste, so my submission is well-clear and well-researched. So, I know that Nigeria has a significant role to play to be the one to lead the continent irrespective of everybody else contributing its quota.
I don’t have anything to do with a particular Nigerian artiste supporting a particular Ghanaian artiste, that is too basic and individualistic, and I can’t deal with that. I have friends over on this side, we owe ourselves the responsibility to push the movement. I think industry, continent, and peace and love.
TheCable Lifestyle: What has been the inspiration for sustaining your career?
Stonebwoy: My inspiration is basically to connect with the bigger picture. I know I’m a Ghanaian but I also understand that I’m inspired to think afar that there are brothers and sisters scattered across the whole place and we all have similar things in music.
Therefore with the level of talent that I’m giving, I’m not afraid to dare and connect with RnB artists, Reggae and Dancehall artists, or Latin, Portuguese or Francophone artistes. And all these areas, I have been doing it. My inspiration has been to connect to the bigger things.
That’s my core inspiration, to speak for Africa’s voiceless, to actually represent the people just like Kwame Nkrumah and Fela Kuti.
TheCable Lifestyle: When you’re not doing music, what do you do for fun?
Stonebwoy: I’m probably resting because I’m always thinking. In my free time, I read a book or sleep or play some PlayStation but that is even rare.
There is not too much time to play, that time is going to come but now I’m focused on the work to be done.
TheCable Lifestyle: What are your thoughts about up-and-coming artistes in Ghana and Africa?
Stonebwoy: I think everybody is born to deliver their quota of what God has given them creatively. People have to pick from where we actually push it to. So, we can all be in the same boat, playing at different times. So, I really respect all the newer ones who are putting in the work and pushing to add to the historical benefits of our music, culture, and art.
That I can’t say anything less about. They are doing amazing.
TheCable Lifestyle: What should we be expecting from you?
Stonebwoy: I’m going to be dropping my album by March next year. I dropped a single titled ‘Gidigba’, it’s running hot all over the place. It’s a masterpiece. The first single was ‘Therapy’, a beautiful love song.
From here, we might drop another single before December comes when we would be busy headlining all the shows, festivals, and concerts.
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