Getting to Know Afrobeats Star Stonebwoy

 

 

Ghanian Afrobeats star Stonebwoy has impressed the world with his artistry.  His hit singles are staples on charts, and his presence on social media, complimented by engagement from his most loyal fans makes the star one of the most sought-after performing artists to collaborate with.

One of the artists landmark events is his annual BHIM Concert.  Held every year, the sold-out concert that attracts thens of thousands of spectators is deemed the African-Caribbean link up.  Mark Wilberforce sat down with Stonebwoy for this exclusive…

MW:  Tell us about the BHIM concert in terms of what it stands for and what its targets are? 

SB:   The BHIM concert which stands for Bless His Imperial Majesty. So, when I say “BHIM it’s like a slogan, a catchphrase, a fire starter that I coined. Because for me, I only give praises, thanks and glory to God which is His Imperial Majesty. So, everything I do goes directly back to the source that brought us all here and created the universe. So, I bless his name every time and honour him every time which is, BHIM – so, that’s what it stands for.

And this BHIM concert is a way of bridging the gap between the acts from Africa and the Caribbean. And it’s really the music, the arts and the culture that can be at the forefront of it but, behind it you find the business and the entrepreneurship etc. It’s a collective kind of dream.

MWWhat is it about Busy that inspired you to select him for The BHIM concert 2022?

SB:  Busy signal is one of the most versatile Reggae-Dancehall artists. And he’s inspired us from time! And let me tell you one thing that people don’t necessarily think about. I believe it’s easier for Reggae-Dancehall artists all over the world to connect and collaborate with each other than it is for Hip Hop artists. For us (reggae dancehall artists) we see that we are cultural custodians and therefore somebody like Busy Signal really fits my bill. Before featuring guest acts on The BHIM concert, I used to carry this event on my head, solely. And despite the tough economic period we’re In, I still had the passion to invest resources into making sure I produce a world class experience, to showcase the unity and bond between us as Black people. And whoever was lucky enough to be there knows that it was an explosion of greatness!

MW:  You’ve recently returned from shelling down the closing ceremony of the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar. What was your response when you got the call and how was the experience for you? 

SB:  Qatar was an amazing experience. We were judged as being the best performance out of the entire world cup fan festival. And that’s a great thing to have on your resume. I can’t even quantify the feeling but, I’m very humbled and grateful for the opportunity.

The feeling was great when I got the call to perform at the world cup. I was already paying attention to the progress of Ghana’s Black Stars and the rest of the African teams. Big shout out to Morocco for getting to the semi finals. It was actually the biggest platform I’ve ever performed on, being that it’s the world cup. I’ve performed on several huge platforms before but that platform (world cup) says it all.

MW:  Growing up, who were the Reggae-Dancehall artists you listened to and why?

SB:  Busy signal is one of them. From Sizzla, Capelton, Buju Banton, Shabba Ranks, Anthony B – just names upon names. Phantom Mojah.. Bro, I can’t even remember all them! Turbulence, Morgan Heritage, Damian Marley, the list goes on and on. And I think we share the same vibes. I come from a place that I can never forget. I come from the ghettos of Ashaiman (a rough neighbourhood in the east of the capital, Accra). And I’ve noticed that their surrounds and upbrings they describe are very similar to ours. And some of these same artists have come from these hard environments and elevated to become global icons. And these are the things that inspire me as well from the Reggae-Dancehall genre.

MW:  With regards to GH dancehall, where do you stand on the debate of Ghana artists imitating patios as opposed to be inspired by it? 

SB:  I think topic of artists imitating patios etc, is a shallow thought that pushes towards division. What’s wrong if a Ghanaian learns patios, which comes from indigenous languages, rooted from Africa and other cultures. Patios is embedded in Blackness in ‘Africaness’. It’s part of the contribution to the blackness of who we are as Africans. The closest people who have the moral write to communicate in Patios, are definitely their African sisters and brothers. What is wrong with learning to communicate in patios, which comes as part and parcel of Reggae-Dancehall as a core tool of communication.? So, if you love Reggae-Dancehall you ought to learn patios, too. And as an artist from anywhere in the world (especially Ghana for me), it should be 100% allowed to add your own dialect to it and reach a wider audience. So, I do not buy all that imitation business. I’m inspired by anything, especially that has a sense of blackness attached to it.

 

MW:  It’s fair to say that the country (Ghana) puts a bit of pressure the likes of yourself, Wiyaala and Rocky Dawuni to secure Grammy wins for Ghana. What’s your thoughts on the importance of awards such as the Grammys and is it something that artists should be seeking? 

(Bob Marley, Snoop and Nas never received a Grammy yet they’re icons). 

SB:  Awards are very good, when you deserve them. Awards are put together to reward people’s hard work. How ceremonies such as the Grammys can enable you to be seen on a global scale, which is a good thing. I don’t believe my country puts pressure on us to win what we’ve not earned yet. I’ll just say that awards will come when it comes. I do not do work to only aim at getting awards. I work to engage the hearts of the people. I work for longevity. Getting the world to hear my music and making a living off of it. I’ve won a lot of enviable awards and Grammys is a target as well. But, it’s not the ‘yard stick’ ya feel me. So, I do not really have no pressures on that. And as you may or may not know, some of the greats never received no Grammys. Like the Bob Marleys and the Snoops (Snoop Dogg) and The Nases (Nas). So, you can understand there are lots of dynamics involved with the process. What I think we should worry about is the work. Ensuring that it gets maximised. And everything else shall follow.

MW:  Two huge stars from Africa and Jamacia Davido and Aidonia sadly lost their son’s recently. The world witnessed you paying tribute to Ifeyani (Davido’s son) at the world cup. As a father, what went through your minds when you first heard the news about both of the two tragedies?

SB:  It’s really very sad. It’s even something that I don’t even want to give attention to because it only continues to spread sadness on major platforms like this. And it’s my aim to amplify greatness not sadness so, I’m gonna amplify that God should bless Davido, a very good friend and a brother who stood strong despite the insensitive comments made to him regarding the death of his son. Aidonia as well, he’s a good friend of mine. We’ve done songs together.

As a father of young ones, too I can understand what they must be going through. It hurts to lose young ones at a young age. We must praise the parents of these children who have shown such strength in difficult times. And we should all send prayers their way.

MW:  What’s been your highlight of 2022?

SB:  2022 has been a great year. Stonebwoy has escalated the levels. I’ve been in the game for almost fifteen years and still running things, from a teenager till now. We continue to diversify our sound and go through the ranks in order to raise the flag of Ghana high. And I’m grateful for being one of the key players that continues to do this, when it comes to promoting the culture and arts from Ghana. Big respect!

 

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