Scotland, Europe, the world '
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he persistent honk of taxi homs. hum of generators
during ‘lights out‘ (power cuts) and pounding of
cassava and plantain to make local staple food.
fufu. deﬁnes daily life in the Ghanaian capital. Accra. But in the past few years. a new rhythm has emerged.
The distinctive heavy beat of hip hop plays in surround
sound: out of the window of every taxi. on the airwaves of
local radio stations. on TV and in the small sparse drinking holes, known locally as ‘spots‘. In Ghana it‘s called hiplife. a variation on hip hop which gives a nod to highlife. the western-influenced. largely urban pop music that dominated the music scene of the 70s. It‘s also a statement that. for the new generation of Ghanaians. things have moved on.
The ﬁrst to make this statement was Reggie Rockstone. the self-proclaimed godfather of hiplife who rapped in a local dialect. Twi. on his 1997 debut album. Makaa Muka.’ (‘I said it. and that's thatl‘l. Reggie's a big character. with ample charisma to support his fabulous name. Talking over the beats and the battles of Vibe FM‘s weekly hip hop jam. The Playa's Ball. he jumps between ideas. leaving a trail of unﬁnished sentences in his wake. He sees hip hop as a natural progression for Ghanaian music. ‘Things are as they‘ve always been — Africans celebrate life with music,” he says. ‘We‘ve just stepped it up. giving a different flavour to the sound. When I came on the scene. people were ready for something different and there I was — boom!‘
Hiplife exploded just as independent radio stations started setting up in Accra‘s districts. giving support and
1 18 THE LIST 19 Sep—3 Oct 2002
‘It’s going to get political because you can address any issue with
3 ‘ :3”, m 'J- a L’_, LIV“; H J“. L I I I I
Discovering Ghana’s hip hop scene. Words: Beth Pearson
airtime to upcoming artists. The new emphasis on lyrics as well as rhythms caught on quickly with Ghana’s youth, meaning that in the short history of Ghanaian hip hop. Reggie‘s from the old school. Artists such as Obrafo, Lord Kenya. Lord Lust. Deeba, Cy-Lover and the VlPs have followed his lead. with MCs Mensah and Baza rapping in English to make sure that hiplife travels well.
They may have intemational ambitions, but the message is having an impact on Ghanaian society. Reggie Rockstone. for one. thinks it’s about time. ‘Finally. the youth has a voice,‘ he says. ‘We are living in an adult society and if you’re older your word is your word and that’s it — that’s how we’re constituted in Africa. We all know it‘s not right, because kids become adults. and it’s going to get political because you can address any issue with rap. No one has heard the African point of view through the youth of the motherland.‘
As the scene matures. and the west wakes up, it’ll hopefully build-up to gain the wide acknowledgement and distribution that has been experienced by Afro-funk, the blanket term given to the jazz and soul influenced Afro-beat in the tradition of Nigerian Fela Kuti. Hiplife. along with its pan-African counterparts, is very much part of this history, using the natural rhythms of traditional instruments such as the djembe drum to accompany the scratches. bass and breaks of hip hop. The irony is that the natural beats and rhythms developed in hip hop originated in Africa, which makes it something of a return to the motherland.
www.9hana.co.uk or www.africanhiphop.com
Festivals, ﬂights and fabulous fares
I IF BEER’S YOUR TIPPLE OF choice. get on the phone pronto and book yourself a ﬂight to Germany - Oktoberfest (21 Sep—6 Oct) is ofﬁcially upon us. And there are tasty rumours flying around the List camp that there's a staggering five million litres of beer and 300,000 pork sausages going a- beggin'. With those impressive stats duly noted it seems sacrilege to miss it - and you don't have to. STA Travel has flights from Edinburgh for as little as £153 return. Alternatively, if you fancy a little more adventure why not opt for Top Deck's ﬁve-day coach “camping tour'. Prices start from only 9159 return and include a tour, return transport from London, Channel crossing and free transfer to and from the Beerfest. For more info log on to www.statravel.co.uk, or call 0870 160 6070.
I SHIP AHOY CAPTAIN! A NEW ferry service sets sail from the Scottish mainland to Orkney and Shetland on 1 Oct. Northlink Ferries’ three new state-of-the-art vessels include two and four berth cabins, complete with ensuite bathroom. Ferries depart Aberdeen with adult fares starting as low as 232 return. For more info check out www.visitshetland.com or www.north|inkferries.co.uk.
I WHY NOT BE ORIGINAL and do your bit for the UK while holidaying in the Big Apple? Mencap's New York City Marathon takes place on 3 Nov and helps raise money for peOpIe with learning disabilities throughout Britain. Call 0845 9777 779 or email events@mencap. org.uk for an info pack and application form. I BARGAIN OF tTHE WEEK goes to Trailﬁnders’ San Francisco Package. For a paltry £476, recipients can expect return ﬂights to Glasgow or Edinburgh and five nights’ accommodation at the Powell Hotel in San Fran, located nice and near to Union Square. Departures are available until 27 Oct. For reservations and Trailfinders Tailormade North America brochure call 0141 353 2224.