In the 90’s, an explosive trend took over the nation, this trend would go ahead to elevate Ghanaian music, create employment and put Ghana on the map. There has never been a dispute over who originated HipLife; honor has been given to whom honor is due, until now.
Apart from originating an art form that gave life to our music scene, Reggie Rockstone also promoted hiplife and pushed the younger artiste to prominence. A few months ago, Reggie Rockstone, in his bid to honor his pioneering brothers and the journey of hiplife, together with his group “VVIP”, penned a song titled “Book of Hiplife”.
The video for this tune featured the likes of Barima Sidney, Zap Mallet, Rooteye, Pozoh and many other pioneering partners of hiplife. This act by Reggie Rockstone, not only gave some of these cats, much needed relevance, but acknowledged them, when no one would. Why then are some of these people part of a malicious ploy, to unseat Reggie Rockstone from his legacy after over 20years, with no evidence?
I know you may have heard a lot of conflicting reports on who actually originated the art form, but if your keep reading, by the time you reach the last paragraph, you’d be enlightened.
Barima Sydney, who is well known for craving controversy, in order to stay afloat, has argued on so many platforms, that Reggie Rockstone is being given undue credit; his argument is that Hip-life existed before Reggie Rockstone hit Ghana’s shores in 1994. Well, it’s either the man really wants to talk up a media storm to keep his career afloat, or he isn’t consistent in his accounts; during my research for this article, I came across a video from way back, on this tape, Barima Sydney is seen giving credit to Reggie Rockstone for bringing in a new trend, I think his exact words where, “When we listened to his first album and we listened to some of the lyrics, it was so amazing, for a moment I thought he was rapping in English, trust me, but it was Twi, so we was like, this is a REVOLUTION, let’s do it”.
In this phrase that Sydney spoke 11 years ago, he referenced Reggie Rockstone’s first album, the album which featured the hit song, “Tsoobui”. It was on this track that the word, “Hip Life” was heard for the first time, once in the intro of the song and twice in the second verse. Who then is Sydney trying to deceive when he says hip-life existed before Reggie Rockstone came to Ghana? What revolution is he referring to in his phrase? And what did he mean when he said, “So we was like, this is a REVOLUTION, let’s do it”?
The sad truth that Sydney Contradicts himself, makes me doubt the credibility of his accounts. Furthermore, in the course of my research, I began to understand that there was a buzzing rap scene in Ghana; a few of these guys were also featured on Reggie Rockstone’s album. This rap scene was nothing like hip-life, the styles and culture was different and it was being defined with names like, “Hip hop”, “Afrocentric Hip Hop”, etc. Groups like Talking Drums, had never referred to their stuff, which was taking over high schools, as hip-life. It was more an emulation of western hip-hop and not a fusion of western hip-hop and hi-life components.
These groups were rapping in English with indigenous Twi choruses, the first whole Twi rap, was written in the overseas living room of a certain Esme Nkansah, by a certain Reginald Osei, also known as Reggie Rockstone. This was 5 years prior to when Reggie Rockstone would come back home and begin the Hip-life revolution at Panafest.
This Esme Nkansah, coincidentally is the ex-companion of Panji Anoff, another big gun who says that Reggie Rockstone has been receiving wrongful accolade the whole time.
Panji’s claim is that Hip-life was originated by Talking drums, a group I have already made mention to, this same group has never and would never lay claim to being the originators of hip-life. My research also unearthed a video that pointed to the fact it was legendary designer, Ricci Osei, who suggested that the music be treated a bit more African; his idea and thought, gave birth to hip-life. This Ricci Osei, happens to be Reginald Osei’s father.
It’s no surprise that in all this raucous, the young cats like, Sarkodie, D-Black, Kwae Kese and more, are sticking with the Reggie Rockstone legacy, they know where to place their loyalty. This is as a result of Reggie Rockstone’s effort to individually give these cats a platform, voice and identity. His struggle was never supposed to benefit him alone, after all, how much does he make from the name, “hip-life”? His struggle was to make a case for Ghana and make sure that Ghanaians are fed by good Ghanaian music.
When all is said and done, ain’t nobody dancing to the title or name, “Hip life”, it is the music that the people would sing to, and the last time I checked, Reggie Rockstone has kept the nation dancing, from 1994 to 2015. The next time you pump your head to “Skolom”, remember that the ruthless fight for a title, never did any good.
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