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[STATISTICS] FROM SOBOLO TO GOOD MORNING RMX: How Stonebwoy hijacked Ghana’s digital music scene

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the music industry, mirroring its impacts across all arts sectors. Numerous music events, including music festivals, concert tours, award shows, and the like were cancelled or postponed. While some musicians and composers were able to use the time to create new works, there were flow on effects on the many supporting people who relied on performers for their income.

Several musical artists delayed the releases of albums due to the pandemic. The Record Store Day, which would have seen the release of several re-issues and exclusive material, was rescheduled from April 18 to June 20. In contrast, some musical acts moved up the release dates of their upcoming albums. Others released new albums with little or no advanced notice.

However, for internationally acclaimed and Nickelodeon & BET Winner| 3-Time Best Reggae/Dancehall Act in Africa; Stonebwoy, although the consequences of the global pandemic are extreme, he did not let his will shimmer as this year, by far, is the best season for him to cement his status and redeem all priceless accolades received from notable and high profile personalities (both within the creative arts sector and cooperate region) as an entertainer, thus far, rejuvenating the zeal in his craft.

Stonebwoy locked the whole Country this year with music. He commenced 2020 with Sobolo and his globally acclaimed compilation dubbed Anloga Junction the Album came through and now ending the year with Putuu Freestyle and Good Morning Remix. He has utilized available props and has created captivating videos with no tension for the deterioration in quality. His contents are being appreciated and admired.

In these hard times, his digital stores and website have witnessed monumental traffic like never before. This is the clue, that digitization and the music industry are becoming intertwined like never before. With the audience waiting eagerly for content, he converted this pandemic into an opportunity to array his skills set. Digitization of the of his craft with the internet being all-time available is the most viable solution to the current situation.

Earlier this year 14th February, he released Sobolo which most Ghanaian music fell in love with. Currently the song has over 4 Million streams across all music platforms. Fast forward, on 24th April, he released his much anticipated album, Anloga Junction, and it’s currently Ghana’s top Album so far, the album has earned over 30 Million streams across all music platforms and still counting.

The album is currently 4th on world most streamed album on apple music.

Below is the metric from Spotify;

On April 30, he was ranked first in the top 5 most streamed Afro-beats recording and performing artiste in Africa. According to a statistic presented by Audiomack – a music streaming and audio distribution platform that allows artists to upload music and podcasts to listeners across its mobile apps and site, Stonebwoy garnered an organic 7million impressions in less than a week following a successful release of his fourth studio album.

July 15, from hitting 10 million streams in just 10 days on Audiomack alone, it’s just over 7 months into 2020, and three months since the release of his fourth studio project, but Stonebwoy already broke yet another music record. According to metrics, he become the first Ghanaian recording and performing artiste to have his album to reach 20 million streams on Audiomack streaming app.

Beating Drake, Stonebwoy, became the most streamed artiste on Deezer and the second most streamed album on Deezer. His lead single “Nominate” featuring legendary American singer, Keri Hilson, off the chart topping “Anloga Junction” album made an entry to Billboard World Digital Song Sales chart.

The track-8 off the multiple award-winning musician’s fourth Studio album leaped to the 19th position on the 25 best-selling international digital singles chart in the United States. He was also ranked according to sales, streams, or airplay, and based on the popularity of the song and album in the United States and elsewhere across the globe. He becomes the first the Ghanaian to to make it to sales chart.

On 17th July, he released his controversial freestyle Putuu (PRAY) and it’s the most listened Ghanaian sound on both the internet and radio. The tune is currently number one trending on YouTube, with 411K+ streams, number one on Apple Music Top 100 Ghana, number 24 on Audiomack top songs chart with 1M+ streams and also 100k+ streams on Boomplay.

On 24th July he released the Remix to Good Morning (off Anloga Junction Album) featuring Sarkodie and Kelvyn Colt. The song is currently trending number 4 on YouTube with 506K streams, number on Apple Music Hottest Track, number 5 on Apple Music Top 100 Ghana and number 2 on Audiomack’s verified Afrobeats chart.

Stonebwoy has released 5 official music videos in 2020. Only 1 – Sobolo was released as a single and the remaining 4 were released off the Anloga Junction Album. Sobolo (single) – a highlife inclined tune released 5 months ago has accumulated 1.6M+ YouTube views, African Party 500k+ YouTube views, Good Morning (original version) 700k+ YouTube views (both were released 4months ago), Understand 900k+ YouTube views, Nominate 3.1M+ youtube views (both were released 3 month ago) and finally Le Gba Gbe [Alive] has garnered 600k+ YouTube views in 2 months.

Nominate, Good Morning and African Party remain the only videos on Apple Music’s top 100 video chart.

The data shows that, Stonebwoy’s audio and video streaming numbers have witnessed a spike of around 14.5%. There is even a high possibility of an increase in percentage since the reggae/ragga & dance-hall honcho is expected to drop more projects to climax the year 2020.

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How Stonebwoy’s songs influenced social campaigns in Africa – an enviable Legacy for any artiste

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“Music has the power to move us and to change us. Yet today’s music mostly does not seem to have the same earth-moving, society-shaping effects as that of the past. Much rarer are the antiwar sentiments of composers like Bob Dylan of the USA. The anti-apartheid and government-challenging lyrics of musicians like South Africa’s Miriam Makeba and Nigeria’s Fela Kuti have largely been exchanged for party-hard, live-the-rich-life lyrics.” – according to United Nations

In today’s digitised world, music has become an even more integral part of our lives: we listen to it on our drive to work, when we go to parties, while we study, when we exercise, and in so many other settings. Yet in the most critical times, when the need arises for activism to bring down much needed societal change, we see fewer taking to the streets with picket signs which bear profound lyrics from the songs of the day. In a generation of musicians focused on feel good and party music, Stonebwoy towers above his peers. The Afro-dancehall, Afrobeats, Afro-pop and reggae superstar is well known for his inspirational songs, focusing on good governance, poverty eradication, and spreading good cheer through positive messages with even more delightful melodies.

If ever there was a time when the world needed musicians like Stonebwoy, that time is now. 2020 has proven itself to be one of the most bizarre and tragic years in recent history, with tragedy and grief sweeping across the globe and its continents unendingly. From the truly horrific COVID-19 pandemic which forced countries to shut borders and order lockdowns, to protests against police brutality in the USA and Nigeria, among many other sufferings, the atmosphere has never been more prime for messages of hope and positivity.

His most recent studio album- Anloga Junction, which was released during COVID time, was warmly received by a severely ravaged world with messages from songs such as “Strengh and Hope” – a vibrant prayer which reminds listeners to keep faith and not despair even in the midst of adversity when all seems lost. Indeed, the message from this song resonated so well that Stonebwoy was called upon to perform it for the COVID time virtual concerts organised by global powerhouses such as Billboard, the African Day Benefit Concert hosted by Idris Elba, “Bathroom Sessions” organised by Clash Magazine to help Water Aid UK in their fight against the gobal pandemic.

In recent times, during the ENDSARS PROTEST organised to call for social change in Nigeria and to protest bad governance and police brutality, several of the protesters found comfort in the repertoire of Stonebwoy, through his songs like Suit and Tie which decries corruption, and more especially Run Go- a song which laments how African leaders are failing to satisfy the simple demands of their electorates and how that is leading to African youth to flee its shores in search of the proverbial greener pastures.

As some part of the lyrics says; “Tell we where we gonna run go, After making our motherland a bitter place to live. Tell we where we gonna run go, Wen dem say we have to pay for the oxygen we breathe, Answer me now Mr. big man. You no see everybody want to go run go up foreign no, Simple life, is all we want life. Give me food, give me clothes, give me love and give me shelter shelter, ‘Cus simple life, is all we want life”

To the Nigerians, Congolese, persons from Cameroonian descent, the combination of the lyrics of the song, rhythm and instruments have established a group identity, stir strong emotions, engage audiences and amass people to take action to demand for their due right to live as citizens and as matter of fact, “Run Go”. Top Nigerian celebrity and award-winning musician, Davido, tweeted some lyrics extract from the song, as a way of adding his voice to the campaign. Other social media users also quoted Stonebwoy’s lyrics in their posts addressing the issues affecting Africans.

Without a doubt, Stonebwoy’s lyrics have been relevant in 2020 and will find themselves being used long after he is gone – an enviable legacy for any artiste

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ANLOGA JUNCTION: A conscious compilation fused with Dance-hall, Hip-Hop, R&B and Afro-pop

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Stonebwoy – Ghana’s shining Black Star has for years been consistent with his music and international growth, making beautiful music with some of the world’s leading A-list musicians of our time. His brand new album “Anloga Junction” is a complete body-of-work set apart by its intentionality with regards to features, music structuring and song compositions. This album is a 5-star project.

On Anloga Junction, the Afro-dancehall don pulls off an ambitious task by folding his collaborators’ varied styles into his signature sound. Fellow Ghanaian Kojo Antwi fits the reggae feel of “Nkuto”, and the bass rhythm of “Bow Down” flows in sync with Nasty C’s energy. Frequently singing in his Ewe language, particularly on the Keri Hilson collab “Nominate”, Stonebwoy always finds his way back to the unique style that has made him special.

Here’s our track-by-track breakdown of this stupendous music project.

Track-1: “Le Gba Gbe”

On this track Stonebwoy features his brilliant side to Afro-Reggae sound where he plays and enjoys himself on the track. It’s a motivation song which has a lot of meaning and deep-messaging attached to it. It brings out the actual African vibe that we love to hear from the Pan-African superstar.

Track-2: “African Party”

This track has a party vibe that engages everyone to want to dance and vibe to. “African Party” is passing a message literally of how parties are engaged in African. A whole vibe and a fan favorite. He speaks of how he enjoys his life everyday as it comes. A beautiful message timely delivered for the world today. Watch the very colorful music video below!

Track-3: “African Idol”

“African idol” is an African inspiration song. He mixes his craft, bringing out different parts of his sound. Stonebwoy speaks of Africa’s culture on this track. It has a solemn vibe attached to this tune.

Track-4: “Ever lasting”

One of the bangers on the album, “Ever Lasting” is a party vibe mixed with the African spice to make every listener want put on their dancing shoes. The construction of the chorus is superbly crafted as he mixes his tribal language with English and how it blends together to make a perfect sound. It’s a song to vibe to at all times!

Track-5: “Nkuto” feat. Kojo Antwi

This track speaks a lot about the Ghanaian heritage and culture. It features a great sound changer, Kojo Antwi who adds his sauce to the track, making it sound bold and solid. It brings out the true Black Star culture to the world. Something we are proudly celebratory of here at MUSIC UNITES AFRICA.

Track-6: “Bow Down” feat. Nasty C

Nasty C with his unique vibe, came on this track making it a masterpiece along side the master craftsman himself, Stonebwoy. The track speaks volumes about life and how the world turns. With great rap verses from Nasty C, Stonebwoy mixes the rap with his African vibe to make this banger a classic. It is a must listen to song on this album. Highly recommended and a fan-favorite.

Track-7: “Only Love”

“Only Love” which is one of the top-love songs on this album, entails pure African love and affection towards Stonebwoy’s African Queen. He show pure black affection to a lady he really cares about and how to treat THE LADY like the Queen she is. Stonebwoy also uses this song to teach African men how to treat a Woman right, putting aside all forms of male misogyny and selfishness in order to put our Women first; treating them with love and with utmost respect. A true eye opener and much welcomed change to the norm of objectifying our African Queens as seen by most pop-stars in African and all around the world.

Track-8: “Nominate” feat. Keri Hilson

“Nominate” is a passionate track which sees Stonebwoy team up with world renown international superstar, Keri Hilson. This song is a masterpiece with all the ingredients of a proper African vibe attached to make it a ‘gbedu’ (a jam). It also can be taken as a love song because of the vibe it brings and how it connects to the ears. It’s one of the biggest songs from the album. Watch the video below.

Track-9: “Journey”

On this track, Stonebwoy speaks about his life, how he started from nothing and appreciated himself to what he has become now. This track is more like a motivation to upcoming artists looking up to him and also trying to make ends meet. From his point of view, Stonebwoy tries to explain how life can be. He passes an inspiring message across to all listener. This track is a must listen to!

Track-10: “Understand” feat. Alicai Harley

A masterpiece collaboration of two lovely voices, “Understand” entails the vibe Stonebwoy brings with the back up and perfect verse from Alicai Harley. While some would take it as a rap song or soul music, Stonebwoy tries to enlighten his fans to understand where he is coming from and what he’s been through to get to where he is today. But Alicai – bringing in her vocals, made it a lovely track with a different vibe, creating a whole new dimension to this song. It can also be said to be a love song. It is a go-to sound. Watch the video below.

Track-11: “Critical” feat. Zlatan Ibile

Stonebwoy and Nigeria’s very own street leader, Zlatan, take on this track as they all show how beautiful their crafts are and how sweet it is to listen to. It has a unique vibe that should have a dance, following the track from our point of view. Zlatan shows a different side of his music prowess, making it a complete jam. “CRITICAL” is a banger off the “Anloga Junction” album that keeps the body moving one way or another.

Track-12: “Black Madonna” feat. Diamond Platnumz

Tanzanians favorite brings his sound on this beautiful track to make it a masterpiece. Diamond Platnumz took very good care of the chorus with Stonebwoy doing the back up. As usual, Stonebwoy comes up with the complete African vibe to make every listener’s head bang. “Black Madonna” is a club/party banger and also a love song. A must listen to!

Track-13: “Motion” feat. Jahmiel

“Motion” has a reggae vibe, an ultimate sound appealing to all ears. Stonebwoy speaks of his past and motivates the youth not to give up on their dreams and aspirations in life. Jahmiel came in with a different spiritual vibe that could make one’s spirit come alive all day long. It is a favorite from the album.

Track-14: “Good Morning” feat. CHIVV and SPANKER

Stonebwoy flexes his wealth on this track without regrets of how he grew up. Giving thanks to God, he made this track banger with the great vocalists, CHIVV and SPANKER. “Good Morning” is a go-to track at any point of the day to bring light into your day. It’s also a motivational song as the lyrics go ‘NOBODY HERE, LOSER’. A great song to start-off your week with. Watch the music video below!

Track-15: “Strength and Hope”

With this masterpiece, Stonebwoy was rest assured that he made a smash-hit album. Bringing out different personas to his craft, Stonebwoy comes-in spiritual on this song, speaking directly to his listeners never to give up and HOPE for better days ahead.

In conclusion, this album is a conscious body of work fused with dance-hall, Hip-Hop, R&B and Afro-pop. The features on this project were sublime to the very last. Production and branding were/are excellent and we can’t get enough of this wonderful Pan-African project, made in Ghana.

(Written By: Voices Of Afrikans/www.musicunitesafrica.org)

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STONEBWOY: An African Idol and a Diamond Dance-hall made in Ghana

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Following collaborations with the likes of Sean Paul, Sarkodie and Burna Boy, the Ghanaian singer continues his popular ascent with Anloga Junction, a star studded album riding the inspired waves of The Black Atlantic without forgetting Stonebwoy’s hometown of Anloga.

In 2019, Ghana surpassed South Africa in becoming the largest producer of gold on the African continent, whilst also going into competition with Nigeria, in establishing Ghanaian musicians on a global scale. Amongst this fountain of talent that turned Ghana into an intensive musical laboratory, a name stood out from the top of the charts for several months: Livingstone Etse Satekla, aka Stonebwoy.

Anloga

Following the raw debut productions of #Grade1 (2012) and Necessary Evil (2014), and then Epistles of Mama (2017), a more intimate double album dedicated to his mother, the singer seems to have found the perfect formula in creating his “afro-dancehall or African dancehall”, a fusion of Afrobeats and dancehall sprinkled with touches of reggae, soca, R&B and hiplife.

Whilst openly claiming responsibility for the creation and success of the genre – at the risk of provoking his rivals, Shatta Wale in the first instance – Stonebwoy also recognizes that he has somewhat matured: his new opus Anloga Junction is proof, made clear as early as the opening track “Le Gba Gbe”. “I’m like a diamond being refined now. I’m at the junction of my influences, inspirations, identity and ambitions. In the last ten years, I have found a way to grow up spiritually alongside with my music, it’s a growth process. Today I’m able to celebrate my ethnicity. From being a son of the soil of Africa, in this world where people are lost, you really have to know where your roots are, to acknowledge them and to spread the diversity of our cultures.”

With a clue in the title of the album, Stonebwoy’s roots are in Anloga, a fishing town made of sand in Keta Lagoon, 160 kilometers from Accra. “That’s where my parents were born, where the elders and ancestors live. It’s not far from Accra so we used to go there a lot and we always loved it. This countryside is very beautiful and wild. It’s a big inspiration for me,” he explains. Naturally, he puts his family in the spotlight for the “African Party” video. Whilst Stonebwoy has sung the majority of his hits in English, he now takes it back to Ewe, the language of the Anlo people, which holds a certain magic. More surprisingly, the record also features a few songs… in Jamaican Creole!

Bridging the gap

The son of a middle-class upbringing, Stonebwoy grew up in Ashaiman, a suburb in Accra. “I was lucky to grow up in Ashaiman. It’s a blessing, a privilege, and I’m very grateful for it. I grew up in between the low low kids from the ghetto and the upper class people. So I grew up with different cultures and a bunch of different types of musics.”

Before switching to dancehall permanently – by nature more festive, lighter and perhaps even more modern – he first fell in love with reggae. That of the Jamaican founding fathers (Bob Marley, Burning Spear and Peter Tosh); that of their descendants (Damian Marley, Jah Cure and Sizzla); and that of Africans such as Lucky Dube and Rocky Dawuni, a generation that united many Ghanaian Rastafarians since the ’90s.

In fact, it’s not in Ethiopia – the land of messiah Haile Selassie I’s – that the largest Rasta community on the continent lives, but in Ghana, a very tolerant country towards Jah’s worshippers, unlike many African countries where dreadlocks, vegetarianism and ganja do not mix well with the local culture. In addition, in Ghana, President Nana Akufo-Addo campaigns for the return to Mother Nature: last year he embarked on a Caribbean tour, including a visit to Jamaica, to promote what he called “The Year of Return”, responding to a growing desire from descendants of slaves to return to the origins of their ancestors. An old story in Ghana.

Stonebwoy chose the opposite route. When he landed in Kingston, Jamaica for the first time in 2016, the singer immediately felt at home and the journey confirmed his intuition: “Reggae music is the musical connexion that reveals the terrible journey that Black people, slaves, have made in between Africa and America. It really is the connexion between the lands and the people. Africa is a bigger Jamaica that’s all. We’re all brothers and sisters: reggae brings unity.” A transoceanic union Stonebwoy has pushed for since his debut and continues to evoke on Anloga Junction, specifically on the song “Journey”.

Babylon

Stonebwoy however, seems to prefer the reggae sound to Rastafarian philosophy, and enterprise of the Rasta lifestyle. Ghana encourages business: political stability, a dynamic and diversified economy and a relaxed lifestyle… At 32, Stonebwoy has long since joined the ranks of artist-entrepreneurs.

“My drive and determination are in-born,” evaluates the artist who, as early as his high school years, has done everything he can to break through. After a few homemade singles and radio freestyles that earned the singer solid notoriety in Accra’s underground scene, Stonebwoy’s career really took off when Samini, the godfather of Ghanaian dancehall, took him under his wing in 2010. Two years later, he released his first album and launched his own label, Burniton Music Group. Then things moved on quickly: a few years later, Stonebwoy opened for Lauryn Hill and Wizkid, won a number of awards including a BET Award in 2015, followed by high-profile collabs with Sean Paul, Sarkodie and Burna Boy.

As a successful businessman, Stonebwoy has developed his own clothing brand, BHIM – Bless His Imperial Majesty – and is now investing in up-and-coming artists such as Kwesi Arthur, DarkoVibes, Medikal and Kelvyn Boy. Oddly, he also jumped into the energy drinks business: Stonebwoy became the face of advertising and owner of Big Boss’s Ghanaian franchise. What about Babylon then? “A leader has responsibilities. The more you lead, the more you sacrifice,” he answers.

African Idol

Anloga Junction is a testament to Stonebwoy’s international ambition, inviting the talents of Ghanaian pop-reggae legend Kojo Antwi, South African rapper Nasty C, North American R&B diva Keri Hilson, Tanzanian bongo flava star Diamond Platnumz, London-based Jamaican singer Alicai Harley, and even Nigerian phenomenon Zlatan. A Ghanaian, Pan-African, diasporic and global XXL cast that forgets no one. Likewise on the producer side, full heavyweights feature, including Nana Rogues (Drake), Andre Harris (Usher, Chris Brown, Kanye West), Kabaka Pyramid and Phantom (Burna Boy) the latter using, as the great Timbaland and Major Lazer did, the famous “Totó La Momposina” sample on the excellent “Critical”.

Sounds like the American dream, doesn’t it? “Yes I dream big, and I’m ok with my ambitions,” admits Stonebwoy. “My main dream is a Pan-African one. This is exactly where I am on the state of mind right now. I never wanted to leave Ghana to go somewhere else. I never had an American or London dream no no. Dreaming of moving to the US or Europe is very dangerous for us Africans. We can stay here in Africa to make it better, we can bring unity and pride.” An African pride that the singer exuberates on “African Idol”, led by the smoothness of Ewe percussion. Who are his African idols? With a machine-gun-like flow, Stonebwoy off reels a list: “Kwame Nkrumah, JJ Rawlings, but also Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X and Elizabeth Nyamayaro, a Zimbabwean feminist UN officer specialized in politics. In a word, kings and queens who have fought the forces of darkness and evil, to redirect us to a good direction for us to go. I don’t wanna go political though,” he said, anticipating the next question.

“Politics has often proved disappointing. I don’t like this concept of using people and dividing them for your own [interests]. There are other ways to make a better place for the people.” Instead, much like other artists in Ghana, Stonebwoy has forged his own foundation. The Livingstone Foundation positively supports disadvantaged students with access to education and has proved to be very active amongst the poorest people in society in the time of epidemics. Solidarity however is a political action, is it not?

(By: Jeanne Lacaille)

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