Welcome to our continuing analysis of selected performances from the ongoing Coke Studio Africa show. Throughout this series, ENEWSGH editor Gabriel Myers Hansen looks specifically at Ghanaian reps ( E.L, Efya, Stonebwoy, and Feli Nuna) and how they match up to their colleagues from the rest of the continent.
In our first piece, rapper EL’s rendition of Kenyan act Jaguar’s One Centimeter, as well as their collaborative effort with South African DJ Maphorisa on Warrior came under focus. We also discussed the sultry Efya’s efforts on the Loss/ Decepticon alongside Uganda’s Eddy Kenzo. Read that review here:#CokeStudioGhana: EPISODE 1 REVIEW (E.L, Efya)
In today’s breakdown, we look at dancehall singer Stonebwoy’s partnership with Ethiopia’s Haile Roots on People Dey and Harambe.
Aside the curious label for their set, it was a memorable performance. Titled “On the Spot”, it is that segment of the show where musicians are challenged by audience members to literally come up with music right on the stage. The purpose: to test their creative abilities in real-time, and at the same time bring fans to within inches of an artist’s process of creating songs.
And so when Stonebwoy, the more “spirited” of the pair, rattled convincingly about how this was not premeditated and that it was strictly “freestyle”, we looked forward to something absolutely new. Inviting audience members to start rhythms on a drum machine next to the stage, both Stonebwoy and Haile roots set into lively renditions of songs we already knew from them.
Specifically in that aspect, it leaves one significantly puzzled. How is it possible to be able to sing along to lyrics which are not supposed to have been previously composed? Everything else was all too perfectly coordinated too have happened “on the spot”.
But outside of that lens, the performance was tremendous; steered by buoyant chants and vivacious stage-craft characteristic of reggae and dancehall. Stonebwoy’s People Dey performance was masterful. A definite high point is when he wove the words “Coke Studio Africa” and “Haile Roots” into the performance. Other elements of the performance like instrumentation, backing vocals, as well as audience involvement were brilliant–something Stonebwoy now does routinely thanks to constant practice and growth. Stonebwoy’s stage presence is hardly paralleled by most of his contemporaries without a doubt.
The Coke Studio Africa franchise brings top artists from various parts of the continent together to create medleys of some of Africa’s favorite anthems, and has been graced by some of the biggest African stars yet, including Nigeria’s MI Abaga and 2Baba (2Face Idibia), Kenya’s Avril, and Mozambique’s Neymar.