I knew the Shatta Wale concert was going to be huge –it was a Shatta Wale concert, after all. It was going to be intense sweaty fun, electric in the way that is peculiar only to ghetto youth, and peppered with deafening chants of “Wale! Wale!” whenever Shatta Wale went quiet.
Of course, it was going to make news, because, knowing Charles Mensah, he would do or say (more likely say) something scandalous.
Oh yeah, the show went well… better than well. It was great. Shatta Wale is the storm after the storm, a real tornado. He cannot be stopped, he will not be stopped. It was impossible to do it four years ago, it is impossible to do it now . Let it go, Thomas.
The show went great. Shatta Wale did own the headlines Saturday morning. The dominant reaction was nothing but praise. One thing was missing from the reports though –it was scandal-free, and I don’t know how to react to a Shatta Wale show sans controversy yet. Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing…I’m just saying that it’s not something you can be used to suddenly –it takes time. It is remarkable, all the same. Maybe he’s really changed after all. I mean, he didn’t respond to Criss Waddle et al, and so on…
Shatta Wale must be very happy, because he’s deeply loved. Maybe twenty thousand fans trooped to the Black Star Square Friday night to celebrate the launch of his latest album, After The Storm. I’m not surprised about the turnout. Shatta has some of the most loyal followers out here. Sarkodie said it himself later when he and Shatta performed their two most famous collaborations: Dancehall Commando and Megye Wo Girl:
“…when you talk about SM fans, you’re talking about loyal, loyal, loyal, loyal fans”
Shatta recognizes this. Somewhere during this set that I can’t stop thinking about, he says, in a soft grateful voice: “People, before I sing this song, I just wanna say I love you all for the support”
What is symbolic about that opening set is this: the atmosphere, that rare energy invoked out of an exchange of genuine and unconditional affection between artist and nation. That realm which is only comparable to a perfect dream.
Like I said, Shatta Wale’s opening performance, is what I take from his concert. He came out in an all white suit and performed some of his most interior, reflective anthems. The party would come later. Sarkodie would make a surprise appearance, Abeiku Santana would come give him props, he would perform Bie Gya in the fake adidas hoodie, again…and if you had an opinion about it, well it was too bad. But his opening set, is what held all the grace, for me.
The performance was filled with songs which were specific testimonies about life, through his eyes; what emotions he’s had to wrestle with. It was chilling –some of the things he said. “… we’ve been hustling for so long”, he says in a song, and we know all about it.
Not many rise from the ashes. Even fewer can do this a second time. During those thirty minutes or so, is the barest I have seen him… the most sombre I’ve ever observed him. It’s also his best performance thus far, to me.
I do think that often, his performances have been about proving himself to someone, but this one was nothing like that. Here, he offers himself, entirely. This concert might as well have been an intense conversation between brothers, with tears, and laughter, and deep silence and heavy sighs. He had been on a long journey, and had learned a thing or two, and his brothers could benefit from sound advice from his adventures too.
“…I know some of you dey here wey, den I no get food to chop, you dey give me food, I know say some of you wey I no get water make I drink, you dey give me water. The time I no get somewhere make I sleep, I know say some people dey here wey give me some place make I sleep”.
Aside all that emotionality, the performance itself was near-perfect. No other artists were advertised for the event. Not many artists can manage that, even “big artists”. Patrons had gone there to see him (just him), and share in his triumph. He was simply a joy to watch; from the roaring freestyles, to how he involved all twenty thousand fans, to how he immersed he was in that whole experience.
NB: he did a live set we had absolutely no qualms about.
It was indeed his show, I’m telling you.
Of course, as is characteristic of all Shatta Wale performances, occasionally, you would see a hypeman of some sort, or several, behind him…but to hell with them. He brings enough heat on his own.
For the set in question, he required no dancers, no extraordinary effects…nothing…just a loyal band and overwhelming energy from adoring fans.
You see, it’s about connection –this whole thing –it’s about being bold with your truths and being honest with your story in a way which synchronises with our emotions, because we all experience the same things: the joys and the fears. As an artist, you are sharing your life with us, so that our lives will be improved by it. It may take years to cultivate, but when it happens, we have formed a kingship.
Everything happens in the storm. It’s hard to swallow, but the blessing is hidden in the storm. The realities of life are appreciated better during rough days.
These times we all dread, are necessary, because in the final analysis, they’re where life truly takes place: we are shown good friends and hard lessons. We stare our ambitions in the face and then have to fight to prove that we deserve to have them. That fight requires heart and soul, courage and spirit…and we could try going against it, or we could resign and sulk, but then, we will never know what our dreams could have become.
Yet, when we have exhibited resilience enough, the storm gradually passes. And after the storm, there’s a victory. When we’ve seen and gone to war with the storm, we have found ourselves…we have found love. Shatta embodies this idea. I mean, look at him. We could be subdued by situations, or could use them as momentum.
Thank God for storms.
*After The Storm (Shatta Movement Records, 2015) consists of 22 songs and was entirely self-produced by Shatta Wale.
@myershansen on Twitter.