After a decade of entertaining music lovers worldwide, Samini talks exclusively to enewsgh.com on how it all started, the non-existent dancehall crown, and switching to live band music among other interesting let-ins.
Read interview below
Do you remember your first attempt at recording music?
My first ever recording was in 1996 when I did a demo on a cassette; back then it was a friend called Derek who told me I could do music, there was also Nii Asirifi at whose house I would go and do demos with his family’s living room tape recorder and Vandyke; another childhood friend who always believed in my free style ability.
In 2001, I was introduced to Nana King the boss of Ashanti International, one of the biggest labels at the time by Sonni Balli. Sonni Balli was also an inspiration and a big brother figure to me when I started out.
And when did you officially take music as a profession?
Before my first official studio album, I was only a high school graduate awaiting results to continue at the university. However I had been able to build up a massive following as I was featured on almost every major hit on radio and TV at the time.
Pressure started coming in from fans who wanted me to embark on my solo project and critics who swore I couldn’t survive as a solo act and that my uniqueness was with collaborations.
With all these in mind and a university education on the line I went in as hard as I could ever go on my first album. After days and nights sessions and uncertain recording schedules my debut album was ready. The uncertainty was because the studio was a commercial one and Old Koff and Nana King would only have time for me when all official recordings were through.
I had hope and also my mother’s believe in me was my only tools throughout the hustle. I also had a very positive attitude towards work till I finally had an album and it set me in motion for all that you have heard and experienced thus far.
It feels good to still be here and in the top list after 10 solid years of music and performances. All I can say is to GOD be the GLORY
You recorded “Scatter Badmind” recently. It’s been received well. Is there a limit to how far one should go on a song?
For the entertainment and amusement of our fans artistes will go to an extra mile to gain presence and respect, however when this exceeds self-acclamation to the degradation and disrespect of another artist’s brand and legacy with mere fabrications and blatant lies it gets out of control. Let’s keep to the music.
You have been a strong disciple of the Dancehall genre for more than ten years now. It’s popularity is huge now; how does it feel and did you see this day coming?
I’ve been doing what I personally call African Dancehall for the past decade and more. I decided to uniquely Africanize my dancehall to be able to get an identity out there in the mainstream alongside my Jamaican counterparts who do authentic Dancehall to its very core. Since 2004 till date I’ve seen different changes in style of music in our society and most of them influenced my perfection of a style that can be readily attributed to me.
Not once did I feel like changing my style but I always looked for ways to blend in perfectly every time. I’ve survived from Hiplife to Jama to Crunk to Highlife to Azonto and finally to the trend I’ve championed over a decade.
Yes, I saw this coming if you ask me. I’ve been single handily doing this for far too long and it started feeling boring and non-competitive. It feels good now to look around and see new acts that I’ve inspired and even some that I trained and developed sharing the same platform with me still in my prime. It feels so good.
Is there something like a Dancehall crown, and if yes, would you be willing to pass it on at some point in your career?
In my opinion there is no such thing as a dancehall crown. It’s all a self-encouraging move to keep one on your toes as you keep facing different phases of the genre as you grow in it. My claim to African Dancehall was because I came up with the term “African Dancehall” and that is my style so I’m simply the king of my style and not necessarily king over any one per se.
With that said I don’t think it’s a thing of a handing over kind because it’s not there in the first place. It’s your legacy crown and that can only be put in your museum after your physical being is no more. Music is an intangible art form that is only felt by the soul and so its quantity and quality is hard to define as critics will always hold different opinions.
Pound for pound you are one of the best live performers of our time; how difficult was it switching to live music?
I’ve always admired great performers who do it live with a big band and I always said to myself I would go live if I were to do music professionally. After my first trip to the UK in 2004 for a series of shows I got a wakeup call to rebrand myself and go live for that matter.
From 1st January 2005 I said NO to play back performances. Just a year into my career.
My manager Tony, was very influential in this move as we would usually pay a band to back me even when we weren’t paid to cover the band, just to prove what I could do live.
Eventually event organisers had no choice but to pay whatever it would take to get me on the bill as the demand got higher after that. Shabo band was actually born from my switch to live as I brought guys like Dan Grahl, Bronzy, Dan Tetteh, Oko and a few others together to play all the time for me. Eventually they formed a band for the new school music. The first of its kind in our time.
You and Tony Pun have been together from day one; it rarely happens in this industry?
Me and Tony Pun Daning come from way back and we are happy to look back today at a very successful legacy built based on simple trust and loyalty, respect for each other’s views.
In every ten year long working relationship, there will be a few ups and downs and progressive arguments all aimed at achieving the primary objective which is success. In all this, Tony Pun was the manager and I the artiste on the quest for global recognition.
He’s been a brother and a true friend.
Above all, a true soldier in times of difficulty you can always trust Tony to pull what we call the “magic” and make something happen. In my entire career I’ve worked with ONE manager and that’s been Tony Pun aka Tunnnnuppppp.
Heard about your sports bar; what prompted it?
After all these years of entertaining the masses both locally and internationally, we have to be honest that as a label we’ve made a lot of money and we are looking at channelling into assets rather than lavish living as this industry does not promise any artist a hit record tomorrow.
With that in mind we thought it wise to move into different business ventures, one of which is my own restaurant and lounge called Dancestardom to cater for the general public and my fans as well as create an avenue where one can access everything Samini at a go.
There will be a local and continental restaurant, a live music session and an inner pub. It’s will also have a sports bar with screens all over to catch your favourite sporting events at any time. We have other attractions like a mini gulf course and a pool table and a shisha lounge to entertain almost everyone who walks in.
Interview Conducted by: Abdullai Isshak/enewsgh.com