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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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Stonebwoy is the most sought after Ghanaian talent with over 100 collaborations [SEE COMPLETE LIST]

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Musical collaboration occurs when musicians in different places or groups work on the piece. Typically, multiple parties are involved (singers, songwriters, lyricists, composers, and producers) and come together to create one work. The music industry comprises people with innumerable skillsets and trades. Working with talented music producers, singers, songwriters, audio engineers, and others who can provide complementary skills and ideas will improve your music and musical knowledge.

Stonebwoy; known by birthright name as Livingstone Etse Satekla, might be one of the most versatile dancehall recording and performing talent in history and yet he never has to sacrifice an ounce of essential ferocity. In this write up, he brings the raw feeling of the Ghana dancehall to other notable genres, including Afrobeats, Reggae, Highlife, Hiplife, Pop, Rock etc. While his reggaetón duets showcase his universal appeal, he also stands out like a proud conqueror in team-ups with his fellow reggae&dancehall luminaries.

However, Stonebwoy has not only benefited or gained some level of musical expertise from working with other artistes. His collaborative projects have exposed him to other fan-bases. He has also been able to connect with other industry contacts, as having an extensive network of professionals within the music industry is vital to his success. When it comes to collaborations, Stonebwoy is not discriminative. He supports every talents, be it an established or a budding creative.

In no particular order, check the list of some of his collaborations below;

  1. Stonebwoy ft. Keri Hilson – Nominate
  2. Stonebwoy ft. Kojo Antwi – Nkuto
  3. Stonebwoy ft Karamanti- Xfactor
  4. Stonebwoy ft Gappy Ranks – Wicked
  5. McGalaxy ft Stonebwoy n Cynthia Morgan – Go Gaga
  6. Dj Neptune n Olamide ft Stonebwoy – Baddest
  7. Skiikane ft Stonebwoy- Loke
  8. Irene Ntale ft Stonebwoy- Boggie down
  9. AKA ft Burna boy x Stonebwoy x Redsan – All Eyes On
  10. Stonebwoy ft General Pype – Chat Dem Ah Chat
  11. Stonebwoy ft VVS Verbal – Ganja Pipe
  12. Stonebwoy ft OutLaws – Watch Out
  13. Cynthia Morgan ft Stonebwoy- Bubble Bup
  14. Rre ft Stonebwoy- Nana Remix
  15. Tifa ft Stonebwoy- Paradise
  16. Khalia ft Stonebwoy- Spring break
  17. Fay- Ann Lyon ft Stonebwoy- Block roads
  18. C4 Pedro ft Stonebwoy- Quero Mais Love
  19. Sizzla Kalonji ft Stonebwoy – Shoot Yuh
  20. Collie Buddz ft Stonebwoy – Bounce it
  21. Beniton ft Stonebwoy – Struggles
  22. Stonebwoy ft Khalia – Hold On You
  23. Stonebwoy ft Jah Vinci – Happiness
  24. Stonebwoy ft Vanessa Blings – One Man lady
  25. Stonebwoy ft Agent Sasco- Hakuna Matata
  26. Stonebwoy ft Pressure Busspipe – Savage
  27. Stonebwoy ft Kabaka Pyramid- Suit and Tie
  28. Stonebwoy ft Sean Paul- Most Original
  29. Stonebwoy ft Beenie Man- Shuga
  30. Kalado ft Stonebwoy- Crazy Wine
  31. Teff ft Stonebwoy x Versatile – Know Dat
  32. D’Angel ft Stonebwoy- Tingisha
  33. Kabaka Pyramid ft Stonebwoy- Borders
  34. Agent Sasco ft Stonebwoy X Kabaka Pyramid X Spragga Benz – Change
  35. Stonebwoy ft Burna Boy – Sick Inna Head
  36. Stonebwoy ft Burna Boy – No Sir Remix
  37. Stonebwoy ft Burna boy and AKA – Take You Home
  38. Cassper Nyovest ft Stonebwoy- Fever
  39. Stonebwoy ft Damaris- One Thing
  40. Stonebwoy ft Damaris- On My Way
  41. Stonebwoy ft Cassper Nyovest – Wame
  42. Alaine ft Stonebwoy- Monday to Sunday
  43. 41 . La Sra Tomata ft Stonebwoy- Para Ti
  44. Wizzy Pro ft Stonebwoy x DJ Jazz x Wilfresh- On my mind
  45. Stonebwoy ft Patoranking- Pull up remix
  46. Morgan Heritage ft Diamond Platinum x Stonebwoy- Africa-Jamaica
  47. Karamanti ft Stonebwoy- Ase ase ase remix
  48. Stonebwoy ft Smoodface – Dumsor
  49. Smoodface ft Stonebwoy- Inna Real Life
  50. Wayne Marshall ft Stonebwoy- One Man
  51. Jahmiel ft Stonebwoy- Mama
  52. Mr. G ft Stonebwoy- California
  53. DJ Sawa ft Mr Eazi X Stonebwoy x Moelogo – Tomorrow remix
  54. Starzee ft Stonebwoy- Leader
  55. Young6ix ft Stonebwoy- For Example
  56. DJ Xclusive X Jez Blenda ft Stonebwoy X YungL – Real face
  57. Stonebwoy ft Cara Braia
  58. Morgan Heritage ft Stonebwoy,… – Reggae Night remix
  59. Chichingching ft Stonebwoy- No Weakness
  60. Chichingching ft Stonebwoy x Patoranking x Fatman Scoop- Rock Di World remix
  61. St Brikama Boyo ft Stonebwoy- Fi Di Gyal Dem
  62. K’ Coneil ft Stonebwoy- Balance
  63. Stonebwoy ft Stylo G – Baafira remix
  64. Jemere Morgan ft Stonebwoy- ABC
  65. Admiral T ft Stonebwoy- Ghetto Survivor
  66. Praiz ft Stonebwoy x Jesse Jagz- Body Hot
  67. Praiz ft Stonebwoy- Hustle
  68. Stonebwoy ft Teni- Ololo
  69. Danagog ft Stonebwoy x Davido x Burnaboy – Hookah remix
  70. Jaij hollands ft Stonebwoy- Jah Pinga
  71. Stonebwoy ft Eindo – Mzanzi
  72. Stonebwoy ft Chivv & Spanka – Good Morning
  73. DJ Mathematics ft Stonebwoy
  74. Banky W ft Stonebwoy n Shaydee – Mire Do
  75. Gappy Ranks ft Stonebwoy – Cover You
  76. I- Octane ft Stonebwoy- Weh Have Ova Dem
  77. Stonebwoy ft. Alicai Harley – Understand
  78. Stonebwoy ft. Kevin Colt x Sarkodie – Good Morning Remix
  79. Stonebwoy ft. Zlatan – Critical
  80. Stonebwoy ft. Jahmiel – Motion
  81. DJ Cuppy ft. Stonebwoy – Karma
  82. Stonebwoy ft. Davido – Activate
  83. Stonebwoy ft. Diamond Platnumz – Black Madonna
  84. Stonebwoy ft. Nasty C – Bow Down
  85. Juls ft. Stonebwoy, Maleek Berry & Eugy – With You
  86. Emeli Sande ft. Stonebwoy More of You
  87. Fay-Ann Lyons ft. Stonebwoy – Block The Road
  88. Walshy Fire ft. Stonebwoy & Timeka Marshall – Amazing
  89. Kenny ft. Stonebwoy – Renmenw W’a Lenfini
  90. Tarrus Riley ft. Stonebwoy – GYAL – Girl You Are Loved
  91. Wauve ft. Stonebwoy & ZieZie – Pamela
  92. Nana Rogues ft. Stonebwoy – Don’t Stress
  93. Stonebwoy ft. Tekno – Last Station
  94. Weslee ft. Stonebwoy – London Love
  95. Marley Waters ft. Stonebwoy, Kranium – Wine Pon It
  96. Satrinos Raphael ft. Stonebwoy – Monica
  97. KickRaux, Stonebwoy & Yung Alpha ft. Lisa Mercedez – No Make Up
  98. Victoria Kimani & FKi 1st ft. Stonebwoy – Afreaka
  99. Cali P & Teka ft. Stonebwoy – Rise Up & Shine
  100. Rocky Dawuni ft. Stonebwoy – Wickedest Sound
  101. Weirdz ft. Stonebwoy & Ayo Jay – Play You
  102. Trifecta, Stonebwoy & Niniola – Rollin
  103. Gappy Ranks ft. Stonebwoy – Cover You
  104. Leslie Tay ft. Stonebwoy & Syster Sol – Stjarntecken
  105. Kito Mumba ft. Stonebwoy – Missing Bone
  106. Stonebwoy ft. Sean Paul – Most Original
  107. Boddhi Satva, Preto Show, Stonebwoy ft. Tenny – Raga Raga
  108. Jay Rox ft. Stonebwoy – Duty Call
  109. D’Amgel ft. Stonebwoy – Tingisha
  110. Danagog ft. Stonebwoy, Davido & Burna Boy – Hookah

Check full list here: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/stonebwoy/572206113/see-all?section=top-songs

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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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[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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