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Legendary Ghanaian Music Producer Fred Kyei Mensah (Fredyma) Shares The Genesis of Hiplife Music I



Music evolves, however music notations, has never changed since its creation. Doh ray me fa so la te doh, remain same!

There has been a conversation about the emergence of hiplife music after a BBC documentary was shown about it and, i can see the furore and the conversation surrounding it.

Let’s begin this journey.

The late 1980’s especially between 1989 to 2014, saw the surge or the revolution in Ghana’s  music when the Atari computer was introduced to Ghana with the likes of Nat Fredua, Nana Boamah’s Arc Studios, Charles Amoah, Alhaji Sidiku Buari, Sami Helwani, Fredyma Studios, Kays Frequency, Ghana  films 🎥, now TV3, Panji Anoff, the late Willi Roi, the late Kwasi Yobo, George Abban, Zapp Mallet and others, having access to this beast of a computer then.

In 1990, we had the Pafam Festival (Pan African Music Festival) at the Ghana International Trade Fair Centre where the likes of Jermaine Jackson, attended. There was a music exhibition where the late Willi Roi through Arc Studios, exhibited the state of the art equipment which elicited some of the youth, to get involved in other genres of music apart from hilife.

When Kool and the Gang came to Ghana in November 1990, that was the time some people like Panji Anoff, Michael Ayekoo Smith and others, mooted the idea of combining hilife with rap. Panji Anoff, had produced a film  on celluloid entitled “Back Home Again”. Rex Omar was emerging as well.

Guys like late KK Dua, had a 4 track studio at Asylum Down where he had started producing music of hiplife with the likes of Fafa Blagogee, Gabby Adjetey and the rest before expanding his studio with the state of the art equipment.

Zapp Mallet, was also working with the Arc Studios and Sid Studios producing hits. Ghana Films, Arc Studios, Elephant Walk Studios which was at the present day Light House Cathedral at North Kaneshie, Sid Studios and Faisal Helwani, were the only professional Studios one could find around between 1989 to 1993. My studio was a programming studio where music tracks were laid before getting to the main Studios.

The big evolution in the hiplife genre, started when Danny Blue, the son of Combined Farms, opened the state of the art studio at Mataheko known then as, CHM(Combined House of Music)together with guys like KO, Amef, Cox Tamakloe , Nii Ayite Hammond , late Kroppa Akuffo, Zapp Mallet, Sami Helwani , taking charge. Some people had started producing hiplife music but, had not been exposed because, they lacked executive producers at that time.

Some of the artistes who had their first breakthrough at CHM were, Ekow Micah with “Mesi wo Ohemaa” and Obo Gyimah.

It was in 1996 when Vibe fm, had their station at the premises of CHM at Mataheko where, i had gone to book the CHM studios for some days when the admistrator then, Mr Nsiah told me that, a guy called Reggy, had booked all the night sessions for months.

That was the time the “real revolution” of hiplife had started but the late KK Dua of Kays Frequency and his guys, had started some hiplife productions already.

The likes of JQ, Appietus and others were under training from 1995 to 1997 at Fredyma Studios when the hiplife conversation began however they embellished it from 1998 till now with the likes of the Da’ Hammer, Jon Dee, another prolific producer now in the US Army getting involved.

Production houses like that of DKB Studios, Nana King Ashanti International, Kampsite, Town House, CK Mann studio in Takoradi and Dompreh in Kumasi, had also started production.

In part 2, i will delve more into some of the artistes who benefited from hiplife and their craft.

Let’s tell the hiplife story well.

Good beads don’t rattle.