Stonebwoy takes Keri Hilson, Collie Buddz through “Afro- pepper” baptism

This much is true of Stonebwoy, particularly in the past couple of years: the venerated Dancehall/ Popstar is on a mission to bridge a specific sonic gap. Since Epistles...
Stonebwoy, Keri Hilson/ INSTAGRAM

This much is true of Stonebwoy, particularly in the past couple of years: the venerated Dancehall/ Popstar is on a mission to bridge a specific sonic gap. Since Epistles of Mama, his ubiquitous 2017 album, the singer has undertaken extensive globetrotting, partnering overseas voices with a striking obsession, and stopping by every stage where Reggae matters.

And so, we have seen him enlist and be enlisted on works by members of Reggae/ Dancehall royalty. The list includes but is not limited to Morgan Heritage, Sean Paul, Kabaka Pyramid, Sizzla, and Beenie Man.

When he proclaimed on an Edem and Amaa Rae -assisted joint off his last collection: “I go dey pepper dem,” few questioned his credentials, for already, he was bearer of sought-after trophies (including countless VGMA laurels and a BET plaque). For the one per cent who still harboured misgivings, though, his voyages since Epistles of Mama should prove a more-than-sufficient antidote. He has supplied the pepper, a spicy Afro iteration.

Ahead of his widely-rumoured 2020 album, the singer, known to his mother as Livingstone Etse Satekla has hardly taken a break, venturing new frontiers and courting new converts. As with everything he’s ever achieved, notice arrived early, on “Pepper Dem” via the following phrases: “Manna burning fire, burning everywhere I go/ Cannot retire/ You see the talent I dey carry overload,” Stonebwoy had belted via the vicious charisma of a man struck with afflatus.

On October 15, when he posted imagery of himself and American R&B chanteuse on social media, it sparked rippled water-cooler conversations, reviving debate about why he’s the nation’s foremost Pop practitioner today. A subsequent short clip depicts him schooling Hilson on lines in his native Ewe tongue in an unreleased joint they’re partnering on. That song, like the album, is now being feverishly anticipated, and Hilson, who has been absent from pop discourse in these parts for a significant while, is alas, experiencing a resurgence.

In the eve of that news, a new international collaboration has surfaced, a flirtatious Afro-dancehall partnership with Collie Budz (famed for penning the Marijuana advocacy song, “Come Around,” and “SOS,” (to which WWE superstar Kofi Kingston walks against the wrestling ring). A pounding jam, “Bounce It,” as the song is titled, reintroduces Buddz to Ghanaian audiences on a scale that is particularly advantageous, especially in a year when the African diaspora is looking to return home.

Stonebwoy currently faces legal action for branding an assault weapon at the Ghana Music Awards held only months ago. Rightfully, both he and Shatta Wale, his opposite number on that fateful morning have been widely bashed for the indecipherably distasteful stunt. They have also been handed an indefinite ban by handlers of the scheme. The two musicians have since patched up in a ceremonious “peace conference,” and are expected to perform alongside one another in December. That legal battle will be long, hard-fought and fraught with abundant lessons for a lifetime; both for the embattled acts, and their onlooking colleagues.

On the sidelines, though, Mr Satekla is touring the nations, baptising them that believe with the spicy gospel that is “Afro-pepper.”

Buy “Ololo,” Stonebwoy’s recent single featuring Nigeria’s Teni here.

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