Musician, Guru, who was born Nana Yaw Adjei Yeboah Maradona, talks to enewsgh.com in an exclusive interview on career; about making Obrafuor’s controversial single “Kasiebo”, and his ‘Boys Abre’ album.
He also reacts to accusations of him hijacking songs.
You’ve been nominated in seven categories at this year’s GMAs. It’s coming after a long push. Looking back, how easy was the journey?
It never came cheap; right from day one when I stepped into the real game people attacked my brand and approach to music. And it was Obrafuor who believed and introduced me to this industry officially with the “Kasiebo” song, and I was glad I did that song because that was the whole idea of the Guru brand, I wanted to be outspoken and be far away from the trends and norm, and that song captured all of that and I have never looked.
Talking about “Kasiebo”; how did that song happen?
I was called to meet Obrafuor after I met Jam Master Jay. Obrafuor was recording his Asem Beba Dabi album and he was looking to project many underground musicians of that time with that album.
So many artists had laid their verses on several songs that were all building towards the release and the decision on which song to be released first was not yet realized. I was made to understand the album was done and “Kasiebo” wasn’t supposed to be part of the album, it was to help me get into the game.
Obrafuor and JMJ gave me the beat and said I should try and put my best flow on it and bring it back, on my way home, I was riding the trotro from Dansoman where JMJ has his studio to Darkuman when I heard Agya Brefa on Peace FM doing the introduction to read the news at 6pm on radio and the idea hit me right there in the lorry and that’s the line I toed.
I wrote my verses with a conversation in mind and when I met Obrafuor and he heard the whole concept he just jumped on the song and it sounded amazing, I didn’t know how he was able to get himself into the song that flawless but it was things like that that proved to many of us his talent was on a whole new level.
They didn’t tell me what to do when I got the beat, so I was briefing him (Obrafuor) about what was happening in the game while he was gone and asking him about his opinions about certain issues and he responded without even asking questions about them as to why I chose to talk about those particular issues, he told me to let my imagination run wild and true to his words when I returned the record, he didn’t question it, he played along and many still never believe Obrafuor allowed me to control the song creatively.
So I followed up with the “Democracy” record to let people know, what happened on “Kasiebo” was all me. And we won collaboration of the year for “Kasiebo” with no official single out for me.
What goes into deciding which next song you are going to work on?
I make songs having the target I want to hit in mind, “Nkwadaa Nkwadaa” was for the kids, Mmakuo for the adults, “Lapaz Toyota” for the lovers, “Boys Abre” for all those going through whatever hardship. I only want to share my ideas, opinions and view of whatever it is about this life that influences a large group, how you decide to relate to the songs is your own to decide.
I put just a little of my experiences in my song and even most of it, I won’t talk about the glorious aspect, I will share the downside because already you are famous and people expect things to be a bit easier for you, telling them in every song life is good for you is not fair, let them know you are human and go through hard times too.
Your current album ‘Boys Abre’ is responsible for all seven nominations. Why Boys Abre?
I chose Boys Abre because in reality things were hard and there was a lot of tension in the country because of the court case and as time went on you could sense the fear and fatigue on every Ghanaian you met.
We had run out of energy and couldn’t dance and sing faster like we were already doing. And we put Lil Win on the record and Ghanaians got it and were cheered back to happiness.
Lapaz Toyota, Nkwadaa Nkwadaa, now Boys Abre and you don’t have a single Ghanaian award; do you feel underrated?
I don’t feel that way, I just feel they are challenging me to do more, and many at times I just think I don’t concentrate on what the industry’s reaction is when I am creating my music, all I think about is the audience and the audience only. Yes, at some point you need the industry to endorse you for you to do certain things but the biggest award is releasing a song and getting massive positive response. Who knows may be my best is not enough for them.
Any time you release a song and it hits, some persons later lay claim to it being theirs. How do you handle that?
In every field you should expect propaganda; people find it difficult to accept change or your impact. So people find ways to attack the brand and artist. Competition is using ways and means to get your brand down and those coming up also want to climb on the back of your brand to gain some attention, I didn’t use those tactics and I just think people should work hard on their talent instead of trying to cut corners. I work hard for my hit songs and expect everyone to do that.
I’m addicted to making hits, the struggle to make a single hit song is huge and we try and put in work and replicate the same procedures as we find new ways and avenues to make those viral songs. “Lapaz Toyota” contributed a lot to the Azonto era and when the trend was moving to the Akayida where the kicks were slow, “Boys Abre” stood out because we captured it better in terms of audio and visually with Lil Win.
What’s next for you?
Now I just look towards the music bodies that matter to endorse the brand so we can take the brand out there with confidence knowing the audience and the music stakeholders have endorsed the brand.
I just want everyone to know we have worked tirelessly and hard enough to get the recognition and they should endorse those who deserve the endorsements. It never came cheap, running up to the awards, I had five hit songs back to back. It’s very painful if you look at the amount of work you have put in and then when it’s time to award the hardworking ones, the award goes elsewhere.