Ghana-based Benjamin Lebrave speaks fluent French and English, and can schmooze in Spanish and Portuguese. He’ll report on new African music every other week. This week, he writes about some soothing highlife.
Three weeks ago when Max le Daron and I dropped by Genius' studio in Mataheko, we met his buddy Bullet, another Dansoman beatsmith I'd never heard of. Since Max and I were in full #RootsofAzonto mode, we followed Bullet to his studio to share sound engineering tips and listen to a few beats.
Max and I had been running around all day, listening to loud music: most producers here know that music sounds best when it's not too loud, but radio and DJs in Ghana demand music that is as loud as possible. Think waveforms shaped like solid bricks.
So the prospect of potentially damaging my ears yet again at another fortissimo studio was less than appealing. But that's what we do, so Max and I listened to Bullet's productions. Thankfully, and surprisingly, Bullet produces a lot of highlife, exactly the type of soothing sounds we needed at that point in the day.
Stream: Wiper, "Amanda" (Prod. by Bullet)
When I say soothing, I don't mean Michael Bolton. Bullet's music is still very much danceable. But after hours of extra percussive azonto, a few melodic bass lines and guitar riffs go a long way. One song I grew particularly fond of is "Amanda," by Wiper. I just met Wiper, a new artist on the Accra circuit, who happens to be friends with Shatta Wale—a very good friend to have!
Shatta Wale, aka Bandana, has been around for about a decade, but he was off the radar for a long while until his song "Dancehall King" took over Ghana a few months ago. You cannot rock a party here without rocking some Bandana. Thanks to him, Wiper has been getting a lot of stage experience, something hardly any up-and-coming artists get here.
Wiper's only been recording for two years, but already his achievements are remarkable: videos and loads of shows, collabos with Skrew Phaze, Stay Jay or Tinny, all heavy hitters in Ghana. But like most up-and-coming artists, Wiper feels stuck without the major funds needed to properly push a single in Ghana. Little airplay, little traction beyond his native Larterbiokorshie neighborhood. But loads of inspiration and energy. Another GH cat to follow!