Several debates had popped up from traditional and social media like television, radio and internet over the years to find the true originators of the Hip-hop music genre.
The art, which was believed to have developed from the United States of America (USA) in the 1970s, consists of a stylised rhythmic music that is commonly accompanied by rapping and rhyming speech chanted with synthesised beat.
Touching on the subject, the Godfather of hip-life, Reggie Rockstone, has expressed regret on the rate people tag hip-hop art to Westerners and insisted that the art originated from Africa.
According to him, rappers from the Western world traced their descents from the blacks who were sold into slavery, hence the genre not from the whites.
Speaking exclusively to Times Weekend (TW) in Accra on Monday, the multiple awards winning hip-life legend indicated that Africans had incredible vibes and accents that rap originated from, stating that ‘RAP’ is ‘Repetitive African Poetry’.
In addition, he said that the hip-hop culture developed from the African tradition which aided musicians to transfer and share their opinions to the world with a ‘kasahare’ tone just like the way linguists translate the speeches of chiefs.
Born Reginald Osei, also known in the showbiz circles as hip-life grandpapa (godfather), Reggie Rockstone spent his early life in United Kingdom (UK) before returning to the country to help in the development of the ‘hip-life’ genre.
He is a multiple award winner with five albums to his credit and is known by his back to back tracks like ‘Mapouka’, ‘Mensesa da’ and ‘Ah’.
TW: Good morning Grandpapa!
Reggie: Good morning.
TW: How did you get the name Grandpapa?
Reggie: The name was given to me by a friend called Giles Bossman as a brand name for my contributions in Ghana’s entertainment fraternity.
TW: What did you do differently in the industry to have earned such title?
Reggie: When I came back home from the western country, I reinforced Hip-hop in my own language to authenticate it, but when it came to the branding of the genre, I took the ‘hip’ from the foreign genre ‘Hip hop’ and added ‘life’ from ‘high life’, which was the reigning genre in the country to make it ‘Hip life’, and that earned me the title.
TW: What inspired you to introduce ‘Rockstone condom’?
Reggie: I wanted to impact the lives of the youth, so I was looking for something productive that had to do with them. I don’t want to fool myself that youngsters are not having sex, so I introduced the condoms to protect them from contracting Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and Infections.
TW: Why didn’t you join the crusade on abstinence to teach them the dangers associated with premarital sex?
Reggie: Abstinence has never worked in history; many people crusade on abstinence, yet these youth do not heed and engage in unprotected sex. Through the act, STDs have become rampant in the country. I thought carefully and realised that the only way to sensitise the youth is to talk to them about protection, hence Rockstone’s condom.
TW: Is it still in market?
Reggie: No, we are working on something new to take the industry by surprise.
TW: Aside inspiring many youngsters to embrace hip life music, what other things are you doing to help the youth in the industry?
Reggie: Currently, I am working on the ‘Kasarock’ label to sign talented individuals.
TW: We woke up one morning to hear that Reggie had bowed out of the industry, what made you to rescind on your decision?
Reggie: I did not actually bow out, but it got to a point in the industry where everything was in a mess, where DJs wanted to take money before playing songs on air. This really created lots of problems and I never wanted to have anything to do with bribery and corruption.
TW: Was it not appreciation that DJs were requesting for?
Reggie: We are not kids ooo, we know what is appreciation and we know payola, an act of bribery to get your music played. There is nothing wrong with showing appreciation after you play my song, but the issue is when you demand for money before playing the song. DJs are employed to play music and the work of the musician is to provide them with content. The sad thing is that musicians are not working on a fixed salary but for the DJs their money is guaranteed at the end of the month.
TW: Any advice for the DJs?
Reggie: I will plead with DJs to equally play everyone’s song because there are talented young artistes who have no funds to promote their art. I believe when DJs do that, they will attract more listeners and compel artistes to produce good content as they will know that DJs will not be induced by money but will only promote good arts to the world.
TW: There is a conspiracy theory that artistes use a deity or juju to become ‘hits’; what is your take on that?
Reggie: It will be disrespectful for me to shun our culture, I respect everyone’s belief! Before the whites introduced Christianity, Blacks already had their form of worship, so if an artiste chooses to go the traditional way, good for the person but for me and VVIP, we always pray before we perform on stage.
TW: Before we come to VVIP, will you accept to train an upcoming artiste?
Reggie: You can’t really train someone but you can guide the person and I always do that.
TW: coming back to VVIP, what inspired you to join the group?
Reggie: Actually the thing started as a joke on twitter, I tweeted that since Promzy was out of the group, I would love to join and they accepted because I was very good and that was a time music lovers and fans were calling for my return to the industry. VVIP is a great and a disciplined group that is why I joined.
TW: It has been long since we heard from the group, anything new cooking?
Reggie: Yes, we are working on an album and it will soon hit the market, since we are still in the process, I would get you posted once we settle on the title and the date it will be released.
TW: Thank you!
Reggie: You are welcome!
BY JOYCELINE NATALLY CUDJOE