Entertainment of 2014-05-14

The rise and rise of Shatta Wale

Shatta Wale is arguably the most controversial artiste Ghana has seen in recent years. He has managed to ride on controversy and good music to be one of the forces to reckon with in the Ghanaian music industry.

Born Charles Nii Armah Mensah Jnr, he made his debut with Moko Hoo about a decade ago with Tinny. He had other hits including Obaa Yaa and No Problem.

Afterwards, he struggled to get hits till his ‘Shatta City’ hit failed to win the VGMA 2013 Reggae/Dance Hall Song of the Year.

His ensuing rant and music releases, which were seen by many as childish and disrespectful, gave him some publicity. He capitalized on the hype and released a string of hits and videos to make his case.

Shatta Wale’s songs were in perfect sync with his personality. He lived his music, identified with the people on the streets and became a household name. He whipped up public interest in dance hall and got the likes of Samini and Iwan to join in his lyrical wars.

A year on, Shatta Wale has three awards to show for his stubbornness and creativity. He has featured some of the heavyweights of global dancehall music and is gradually trying to enter the Nigerian market with a collaboration with Davido.

Some industry commentators have predicted doom for him but IMANI Ghana’s Franklin Cudjoe believes otherwise and has asked that people rather study how he made it:

Dancehall King had not only rebranded himself, but had also started a movement – Shatta Movement – which had attracted many converts in Ghana. Pompous Marketing executives and religious hypocrites should take time to study how Shatta Wale made it.

Despite Frankin Cudjoe’s praise for Shatta Wale, Selorm Branttie (also of IMANI) believes the musician is making some unpardonable mistakes by his recent demands:

The fact that you get famous does not mean you should begin to insist on premiums from day one. Most Ghanaian top brands suffer because they insist on exacting the full market premium from day one. Such brands never create the presence of mind to last in the long term.

Reggie Rockstone and Okyeame Kwame, two very successful musicians and entrepreneurs, believe that for a musician to survive in the Ghanaian music industry (s)he must work at becoming popular. Speaking at this month’s Accra Discourse, the two advised musicians to leverage on their popularity to make money. Reggie Rockstone alluded that any politician who manages to get Shatta Wale on his campaign could easily win the next elections.