For some days now Hip Life musician and music producers have been struggling with who is the real originator of the most loved music genre in Ghana called Hip life and how the name came about. There is an Akan saying that comes to mind in regards to this issue and it is…” yensan kokromoti ho nbo po” which means you can’t tie a rope without the thumb finger. With this in mind, we try to ge to the bottom of the debate by reaching out to a Ghana music icon in his own right.
Veteran sound engineer, producer Zapp Mallet was there when Hiplife was born and he shares his history with Kwaku B host of INFOTAINMENT on Anapua 105.1FM.
Kwaku B: Could you please share with us the little history you know about Hiplife?
Zapp Mallet: It was around the mid 90s when Hip Hop was making waves around the world. As Ghanaians, as an artiste we decided we can’t just take the Hip Hop line like that nor maintain it and couldn’t let it go either, we needed to do something to it as Ghanaians so that it will maintain our identity as well. We also decided that we have to add our own elements to it especially in terms of the instrumentation so we took the Hop from the Hip Hop and Life from Highlife then we got something new called HipLife. We started this around 1994 -1995 there about and we decided to move on with it. We were like, lets change and add another music style, a new art form of music to what we have at that time.
Kwaku B: Have you work with Reggie before?
Zapp Mallet: Oh Yeah. I did his first recordings from “Agoo, Twoo Boe, NightLife in Accra, even Keep your eyes on the road, I wrote the backing vocals.
Kwaku B: Were you working with some Hiplife artists before Reggie came?
Zapp Mallet: No, at that time no one had come out like that except him. But for other genres I worked with Rex Omar, Hannah Marfo, Francis Agyie and others.
Kwaku B: Is Reggie the originator of Hip life?
Zapp Mallet: No, I don’t know if he means to say single handedly. One person can not claim ownership or originator of Hip life perhaps as an artiste he thinks that he is the first to come out with an album but thats a wrong perception about musicians in Ghana. We focus on the artist rather than people who were very instrumental in making the artist. Especially, musically we leave out the beat makers, engineers, producers and others. When it comes to the genre itself it wasn’t just him but there were other people who played important role in making it and I can mention a couple; the late Ricky Osei and Michael Cooke who was then C E O of Vide Fm now in London. When we were recording Twi on the Hip pop, I will record Reggie then we will mix, my self and Michael Cooke so it was concerted thing we put together. One person can not be originator of HipLife.
Kwaku B: Were you using Reggie Rockstone as an experiment?
Zapp Mallet: No, It was not like I was using him, we were all in it together. Reggie is a person of his own entity but he came with the desire to succeed as an artiste in Ghana because by then no one knew him as an artiste and for us, we were in the background to create something new for Ghana and he was the one who were used because he was ready and available at that time.
Kwaku B: Can you remember the person who suggested the name Hiplife?
Zapp Mallet: That was when I and Michael Cooke were coining the words; Highlife and Hip HoP then we came up with HipLife. There are other forms of music in Ghana we could have use Agbagya to add to Hip Hop but we chose Highlife and Hip Hop.
Kwaku B: Your final words to our cherish listeners.
Zapp Mallet: The young generation of today do say something like “he is old and archaic” they should remember, they won’t be young forever. One day they will be old and those same words will be used on them so.…. Wo wee ofoo nsa no na w’ahw3 wode3.
Tune in to Anapua 105.1FM for the hottest entertainment show in Brong Ahafo “INFOTAINMENT” Every Saturday 3 – 6pm.