EXCLUSIVE: Stonebwoy gets featured on TAP Online Magazine


Dancehall Star Stonebwoy on January 30 got featured on one of Africa’s most credible News Magazines, TAP, The African Perspective, a mag which tends to telling stories the way they supposed to be told. Below is the full story covered by TAP Magazine;




Stonebwoy 29, (born Livingstone Etsey Satekla) is widely regarded a successor to such African reggae pioneers as Lucky Dube, Alpha Blondy, and Rocky Dawuni.
********
Why my phone wouldn’t just stop buzzing, I wondered, more asleep than awake. It was around 5 am that fateful Sunday, and being exhausted from the night before, I had no desire to look at my damn phone. But the vibration persisted, and finally, I stretched a lazy hand toward my nightstand for my Infinix, on which a dozen missed calls and messages from a single contact awaited me. It was Moses (affectionately known as Ras), CEO of The African Perspective (TAP) Magazine. He had just learned of (and instantly become hooked to) Ghanaian Reggae talisman Stonebwoy, after seeing him some thousand miles away at a Toronto gig.




“How good is this guy, chale?” he inquired eagerly when I finally returned his call. “Is he a legend in Ghana?” As I contemplated which question to answer first, he exclaimed: “this guy is bad!”, and instantly, I knew what words would follow –the real reason my phone had been quivering at this hour –“we have to have him on TAP!” –
“Ok Ras”, I sighed.
Six months later, on another Sunday, here I am, at the Bermuda Gardens, Accra. It’s 22:50 GMT, and Stonebwoy’s TAP conversation is finally about to happen…

STONEBWOY JUMPS FROM THE COUNTER ON WHICH HE HAS BEEN SITTING – his feet stomping gallantly on the concrete floor below. The hoodie of his red sweater comes off in the process, exposing sparkling earrings on his ears, and short braids that bounce excitedly on his scalp. He begins flailing his hands, swiping at the air before him. Behind him, a DJ blasts “Pepper Dem”, a vibrant dancehall number off his recent album “Epistles of Mama”.
Mighty tungsten lights surround him, as do members of the crew for this video shoot, and a small crowd that has collected at that side of the bar to behold him. Thoroughly engrossed in his performance, the singer’s gaze remains fixed on the RED camera shooting him, chanting along to the lyrics of the song. The music stops suddenly, and a young lady –a make-up artist –rushes to dab his face which now houses beads of sweat, with a white tissue, and then, with a powder brush. Stonebwoy’s face is tidy once more.
He hops onto the counter again. “From the top!” yells the director, and the music resumes. He jumps down, pretty much the same way he did a short while ago, throwing gun signs, and roaring along to the sound of his own voice.
A new-age jewel from the ghettos of Ashaiman (a suburb of Accra), Stonebwoy 29, (born Livingstone Etsey Satekla) is widely regarded a successor to such African reggae pioneers as Lucky Dube, Alpha Blondy, and Rocky Dawuni. It is not for nothing. Since beginning his career a decade ago (and over 4 well-received studio projects so far), he has steadily endeared himself in the hearts of music lovers far and near.
A repository of rich melody and a charismatic stagecraft, Stonebwoy is now a major African ambassador for the genre on the global front, appearing on Grammy-nominated projects, as well as partnering some of the most influential names in the genre: Morgan Heritage, Sizzla, Sean Paul, Chronixx, Demarco, Kranium, I Octane, Pressure, and a host of others.

For those who witnessed the start of his career, his feats are hardly surprising, as he has constantly demonstrated an ethic and style that is both fresh and consummate. Always the humble youth, Stonebwoy is thankful that he comes up at all in conversation pertaining to Reggae legends on the continent: “I’m grateful to even be spoken of, when it comes to names like these”, he tells me during his break, though he maintains that becoming a first-rate act has always been an ambition of his: “I’ve been at this dream for a long time…only time is showing us what dream I have always had”.
Franchise act for Ghanaian creative arts giant Zylofon Music, Stonebwoy also runs his independent imprint, Burniton Music Group (BMG), and is ambassador for global lifestyle brand Tommy Hilfiger among other powerful brands. All through our dialogue, he maintains in his eyes, an intense yet warm look. His responses are conveyed in a voice that is molded by both dense conviction and magnetism. Everything that comes out of his mouth is intended, and most likely will cause you to nod…even when he jokes that the scene he just performed was done entirely on an empty stomach.




By illustrating superior spirit and drive, this humble ghetto youth has now grown to wield immense influence over fellow youth all over the country, especially those treading the specific streets which once served as setting for his own search for greener pastures. Just last September, a concert he held in honor of the inner city, attracted a crowd of over 50, 000 strong.
A 2015 UN report estimates that some 226 million people aged 15-24 live in Africa, accounting for 19% of the global youth population. This number is expected to shoot up to 42% by 2030. With the continent being the only region with a youth populace that hasn’t peaked yet, much of development rests in the energies of young men and women waking the streets of Ashaiman and other such towns all around the continent.
“I’m blessed to come from Africa, there’s never been a better time to be an African”, adds Stonebwoy,
The creative arts are, without question, pivotal towards reducing unemployment rates afflicting the youth. Though still not fully explored, the industry already employs millions across Africa, and serves as reference for the new wave of portraits of success –something that Stonebwoy unquestionably is. “…ambassador to the youth, me never force it”, he sings on “Pepper Dem”, fully embracing this new role that his success has bestowed him with: “Representing for the youth is key for me. I am one; I have to be one to represent. They [the youth] chose me, and I pray to keep living my life and making them understand what message I send across as a ministry”.

Whereas being a youth on the continent proves an especially mighty hurdle to surmount, Stonebwoy is confident that ultimately, opportunities exist for all, if only they’re willing to trust the process.
“Be strong-minded. It’s ok to grow, it’s okay to be steady”, he is regularly found charging his many disciples.




The darling of his Jamaican counterparts (Morgan Heritage, Tarrus Riley, Sizzla, Chronixx among others –whom he frequently refers to as his “brothers” during our chat), Stonebwoy observes their mutual admiration for his craft, and how fittingly he represents the movement back on the motherland, as well as an unforced camaraderie when they meet, often enhanced by social media: “we are all still discovering. With the help of social media, we can all read and learn about each other’s endeavours. When you [finally] meet somebody who is in that line, you can click. That’s how it’s been with me and most of them — we meet each other at a certain level where we know we are fighting or standing, or representing for the same cause, so it’s easy to gel”.
Although Reggae became a name out of Jamaica, we all know that you can’t talk about Reggae without linking it to the roots …me being next in line only means that we’re gonna take over the world just like they have”.
“I’m blessed to come from Africa”, adds Stonebwoy, emphasizing that there has never been a better time to be an African, as people gravitate toward the identity in a unique way: “It’s easy to find an African who can speak several other languages and relate to other people and sell their Africanness to them, than other people speaking African languages to sell their original ethnicities to us”, he further explains.

Stonebwoy leads the pack in Reggae/ Dancehall on the continent, but he’s just as prominent in the field of Afrobeats. Indeed, quite a number of his most-known submissions have arrived as Afrobeats. “Master of it all”, he proclaims of himself, and his ability to blend his influences. Epistles of Mama is a 24-track twin CD divided equally into Reggae and Afrobeats sections. That is testament to what a major component Afrobeats is to the modern African sound.
It would appear that on the continent, Reggae falls in 3rd place behind Afrobeats and Hip-hop, in terms of popularity. But Stonebwoy argues that the reverse is the case, indicating that while Afrobeats and Hip-hop may be dominant today, Reggae is better-known and established, often serving as foundation for Afrobeats. “Everybody knows Reggae”. That statement, with which he ends with, makes better sense upon second thought.
Aside his acclaim as talisman for the youth, he’s also seen as perhaps, the foremost African reggae ambassador; the others being Patoranking, Buffalo Souljah, Samini, Shatta Wale, among others.




Relentless at this point, Stonebwoy looks not just to participate, but also compete on the global scale, while still remaining true to the path charted by the Lucky Dubes and Rocky Dawunis: “Reggae music has gone far, and these names have represented the culture –the Reggae music that is from Africa.
Although Reggae became a name out of Jamaica, we all know that you can’t talk about Reggae without linking it to the roots …me being next in line only means that we’re gonna take over the world just like they have”.
Sidi, Stonebwoy’s manager, who has all this while, observed from a chair behind us, rises gently to his feet. Dark and well-built, he possesses a persona similar to Stonebwoy’s: imposing from a distance, but a charming fella up-close. He says nothing, but it is interpreted all around that we should be wrapping up.
A minute later, the conversation comes to a close.. We shake hands and exchange goodbyes and, flanked by an entourage of two or three, he swaggers to a room out back, where he had changed into his costume for the shoot, and where presumably, a table has been set before him.

“A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house”, reads Matthew 13: 57 (KJV). Stonebwoy is a prophet alright –it is the prevailing sentiment that exists among the multitudes that constitute his following and indeed anyone who spends even a little time with his music –but unlike the Bible verse, this prophet is revered at home alright.
Aside his perpetual presence on the list of top songs in this country, he has picked up every major plaque the country has on offer, including multiple laurels at the Ghana Music Awards. Stonebwoy is also nominee and recipient of several international honors as the BET Awards, IRAWMA, and the MTV Africa Awards.
In his lyrics, Stonebwoy has remained brave in envisaging greatness for himself, and gone on to prove it: “If I die today, I’m a hero”, “Like a diamond from the dust, I knew my star will shine”, “whether alive or dead, my name shall forever remain”. Tonight, in the course of our discourse, he proclaims yet another: “Reggae music will never be mentioned without my name”. As an intimate witness to his phenomenal journey thus far, I wouldn’t dare you to bet against him.

FIN.
Images by = XVXY Photo
Videography by = Eben Yanks
Gabriel Myers Hansen is a journalist and pop critic from Accra. He’s the editor for online portal enewsgh.com, contributor for musicinafrica.net, and Ghana correspondent for The African Perspective. (@myershansen on Twitter).

Comments

comments

About Kojo Cure

%d bloggers like this: