Stonebwoy; A major player in Ghanaian Music

29th May 2020 BY Ivis Ngwenya

Every single month without fail African artists are constantly reminding us that they are in fact the Kings and Queens in this music game. So far in terms of music, this has really been our year and I could not be more excited! One album we cannot stop talking about here at COA is Stonebwoys ‘Anloga Junction’. This is his fourth studio album and a body of work that the Ghanian musician has been working on for the last 5 years. He describes it as a beautiful African scene with a touch of western experience and influence – Anloga junction is the juncture between those two contrasting perspectives.

Specialising in dancehall, reggae, and afrobeats, Livingstone Etse Satekla is not only a major player in Ghanaian music but in African music as a whole which is why he will forever be one of the continents most celebrated artists. Having rose to international stardom after being the first artist of his kind to win a BET Award in 2015 and has subsequently won many other international awards such as Afrima, Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award as well as received nominations from MTV EMA, Grammy Awards and more. This man is not to be slept on!

Who was Stonebwoy 10 years ago?

I mean, I was still doing music …. I mean I was and still am a son, I come from a Christian family, you know? I have been doing music since I was 16, you know what I mean? It never stopped, I just kept going harder and harder. YHHH 10 years ago, I should be out of school, out of uni or something!

You create Afropop, reggae and dancehall, which one out of the three is your favourite genre and why?

I mean all three because, for me, it’s all the same roots but different branches. So when it all comes to me, I comfortably create either of the genres, I find it difficult to actually choose a main one. I think I always do all together because when you pick up any Stonebwoy song, you still feel all three; some dancehall, some afrobeats, some reggae – every single time you pick up any stonebwoy song. But you may notice that it is mainly the dancehall and afrobeat that you can feel everytime you hear any of my songs.

You’ve worked with the likes of Kranium, Sean Paul, Burna Boy and of course the beautiful Ms Keri Hilson. Who has been your favourite to collaborate with so far and why?

You know, when it comes to this type of question – the favourites question, it sort of limits me in a way because every collaboration of mine is a favourite, they are all unique in their own ways, you know what I mean? So I can hardly pick which one stands out amongst all of them. However, the one that is making a lot of noise right now, making a lot of impact and that one that needs to be very much appreciated at this moment in time is the one with Keri Hilson – Nominate. It’s so crazy, it’s amazing! The combination of afrobeats and RnB with some dancehall in there is just crazy, it’s really nice to hear.

How did the collaboration with Keri Hilson come about and should we expect more collabs in the future?

Uhmm what happened is that whilst we were recording the album we really planned to have an American collaboration on it, but the collab with Keri Hilson, it so happened that it was not planned, because if it was planned then that would sound like I called her up and said I wanted her on the album. But none of that happened, a friend of mine met Keri on a flight and that’s how beautifully it happened – we got introduced. My friend didn’t even know it was Keri Hilson until something happened and they got the opportunity to talk and so by doing so, the conversation turned to music, we ended up exchanging contacts right there and then and we gained some nice relationships. Then when I went on tour in America, it so happened that she invited me to the studio and then we cooked up nominate as a beautiful song and here we are today!

What was the idea behind calling this album Anloga Junction?

I mean it’s my roots, the intention behind the album is to give it that identity you know? It represents the fact that I have gained some influences and a lot of things having learnt from the African perspective when it comes to the music and it is at this junction that it meets with the influences from the west as well. That is why you get the name Anloga junction.

You said the theme of the album is a beautiful African scene with a touch of western experience and influence. Can you go into more detail on what you mean exactly?

Exactly! Yeah, I just think sonically it is a beautiful African song, the sound and the way the musical wave has taken a diverse turn when it comes to African music and the way it’s been received by the western world lately. All that has influence because I am one of the people, I am one of the musicians, one of the new schools who have added their voices to that type of style, especially coming from mixing the afrobeats with the reggae and dancehall to create the afro dancehall which is what I have been known for these last 10 years. When it comes to the continent of Africa, I think that I am well representing for that African sound and wave, that is a representation of that sound. Plus the Caribbean sound and which is at large the Western sound, which is what I mean by that!

Why did you choose to record the intro track (Le Gbs Gbe) in your home language “ewe”, what was the initial idea behind this?

Yeah, the intro track is in my home language because that is what the album is representing, cause when I say Anloga you know that anybody who is going to pick up the record they have to find that masterpiece, they have to find that significance or that representation of the whole of the Anloga vice in there, that is why you find I speak in my dialect for the first track on the album, so it can truly represent what I mean with the album.

You said that some of the songs in your album are actually 5 years old, which of these are and why did you wait to include them in Angola junction rather than epistles of mama?

The reason being for that one is that there had always been a plan and I had known this particular song is timeless enough and that the project that I wanted to bring out was not yet, it was not yet due for that song and so you know as we’ve gotten here and as we started the Anloga junction project, this one here qualified. That particular song is called “Nkuto” feat Kojo Antwi, track number 5 – that’s the one, that song is like 5 years old and bow down is like 2 years old. I take time to fix these songs, it took me a total span of 5 years to fix this body of work for the people.

Which is your favourite song from the album and why?

Track one, nominate and everlasting. But the whole album literally! I love the whole album, not going to lie.

You’ve worked with SA artists (AKA, Nasty C and Cassper Nyovest) in the past, do you yourself listen to SA music? If so what’s your favourite thing about their music/ artists?

Yeahh I do, I do. I love their sound and their whole African culture. You know the whole of Africa is culture – when you see Africa, you see strong accents, you see strong melanin, you see black, you see strong people. And all of that is depicted in our music when we sing so per the various places we have and the diverse cultures we have is well well enjoyable when you are a creative and span your scoop into all these areas. I listen wide to all these forms of music, I love south African music; their house, their kwaito etc.

How does it feel to be inducted into the Grammy museum sound of Africa exhibit?

It feels great! That was an exhibition that happened 3 years ago around 2016/2017 that they had to select some African artists who have won in that category before and those who are making strong waves and that exhibition, it was only meant to last a week but went on to last a whole year and it had me in there and legendary Kojo Antwi in there. So it was a coincidence to have him on my album and then for the both of us to be inducted at that level and that is one of the great levels that afrobeats music has been able to reach by the help of Ava Hall and the whole team who put together the BET international category. So thank you to the whole team who made it work!

What would you say is your biggest achievement so far in your career?

So far I still have a lot of things to do, I still have a lot of miles to reach, you know I’m just taking it easy now and I can only say that at this level it might even be difficult to choose my biggest achievement but I know that I must be the number one when it comes to afro dancehall and reggae and I am grateful for that.

What do you believe is the future of African music/ afrobeat’s?

In the next 10/20 years, African music is still going to be on the rise. You should understand that it can only get better and better. I pray that, not only musically but on the African continent that everything can work together for good because our arts and our creative industries are dependent on the governors of Africa. So in the next 10 years, we pray that Africa becomes more independent, more resourceful and more developed in the right sense and that way our music is going to go far. Big up to every African artist who is putting in the work!