Known for producing hits including “Azonto” by Wizkid, and “Life” by Efya, as well as a chunk of Sarkodie’s mixtapes, Possi Gee is gradually becoming a household name.
In an exclusive interview with Enewsgh.com’s Adbullai Isshak, he lets us in on how R2BEES, Killbeats and Sarkodie took music as a passion before moving on to making it a business.
Among other interesting let-ins, he talks industry and also tells us the Posigee story.
Who is Possi Gee?
My real is Awal Alhassan, a music producer from the Northern region and I love music. I love listening to music and the production of music is great that is why I got into it. I was rapping back then until 2001 when I switched to the production side and years down the line we are here producing almost all the songs people love in and out of Ghana.
Why music production?
Most of the production works I heard weren’t satisfying enough so I took it upon myself as a rapper then to produce my own work but when I got too involved, I shelved my rap career and stayed with the making of the beats. I started here in Tema. This very MOB studio initially was my bedroom and as artists heard about my production skills and started approaching me, work expanded and I had to turn this place into a studio. And now all the big names come here to record. Wizkid, D Banj, Tiffany, Chase, Efya, Rough and Smooth, R2BEES and Sarkodie have all walked out of this studio with smash hits.
Which do you prefer? A packed studio or working alone in the studio?
It’s more fun when the artist is here and you are making the beat because you are able to bounce ideas off each other and produce a song that resonate with the artist and producer; and that is one of the ingredients of a hit record. When the engineer and artist enjoy doing the song, it has a bearing on it and the energy with which the record was made is felt by whoever hears the record after it’s finally executed.
Has there been pressure on you at any moment in time to outdo yourself?
Because I made most of Sarkodie’s songs and Wizkid’s “Azonto”, people come with all sort of expectations and premeditated ideas of how things should flow.
Most of the underground acts come here with concepts in their heard and want the record to sound the same when its finally produced but I listen to everything they have to offer and make suggestions with my years of producing experience and many understand and changes happen because they realize just like them I equally want a hit record to come from my studio, so I get more business and the bragging right.
Music for most people starts as a passion and then business takes over. When did this become a business for you?
The business aspect started in 2005 when I started recording Sarkodie’s mixtapes. I realize this could be a business. Sarkodie, R2Bees and I were friends’ way back before this entire music thing so when we finally got the direction we wanted to go, it was easy to agree and disagree to do things because the understanding was there. And that’s why we have been able to keep the relationship tight and well knitted together to continue to supply the good music.
What is it like working with Sarkodie?
Sarkodie is a friend and I believe doing business with a friend always pays off. We know how each one of us feels towards the music we want to produce, so we don’t talk much when we have a session. Being friends I know the music he likes and the kind of music he will like to produce.
He like’s rap music and he is the best rapper in my opinion.
And all this wasn’t planned. It was faith based and we knew we were heading for greatness but we didn’t know when and where all this will come together.
When he started everyone thought he was going to be Obrafuor. Yes, the crown was passed unto him and he is still flying the flag high till now. We knew we were talented but we wouldn’t have believed it if someone had shown us all that is going on now.
We were having fun and letting people know we could do something “cool”, but in 2007 we all brought the business side in our creative processes and now could charge per session, per feature, and per show and all that.
And when Sarkodie took five awards in 2007 and everyone wanted to record with Possi Gee and others wanted to record at the same studio where Sarkodie recorded his success album.
How long does it take to lay down a single beat?
To produce a beat, it take close to 30 minutes because we are working with concepts and when the concept is relatable you draw from your experiences and get the beat done and mixing and mastering takes up to three hours because we have to select the appropriate tones for the record. As for the laying of the vocals, it all depends on the artist’s talent. But Sarkodie is pretty quick with that because he seems to be privy to everything he wants say on a record before he steps into the studio.
Which genre do you relate to more as a producer?
I am more of a Hip Hop person but when the trends change you have to adjust and serve the people with the music they want. People say don’t follow trends, but when the whole of Ghana wants to dance and you make slow music, they will have to go out there and find dance music and that might take business out there to someone else. So we play for the consumers because in the end it’s about entertaining the masses.
Do you mind if an artist gives a record you have worked on to another engineer to rework on?
We are imitating God’s creation because this music is inspiration and if the artist at a point thinks he needs someone to touch the record to make it excellent, I don’t really worry much.
What has changed for you at this point in your career?
In the beginning there weren’t equipments of this caliber, I relied heavily on my talent and ear for sound. I want to just get the respect of the industry.
We talk money after we discuss the music and it is a great concept to work on. I am so consumed in his creative ways I hardly get the chance to appreciate his work on the level fans will look at the work. I listen to my works a lot to know what could have been done better. You listen to “Kumasi” and “Shatta Wale” and you wonder.
We recorded all that in a day and finished it in a day. He spends about 14 to 15 hours in a studio. Many merge work with pleasure because there are artists who want to get ladies around them before they record.
But it’s funny because these same artists in the beginning of the career recorded in empty studios and now they make a hit or two and they can’t record when ladies are not hanging around.
Where do you see yourself now?
Considering “Life” by Efya and “Shatta Wale” and “Kumasi” by Sarkodie, I think I’m in good shape. Most Ghanaian artists think being out there in the clubs and parties are ways you will get noticed. But I think that’s not okay because an artist has to allow their work to speak for them and not their presence in every club and party.