The age-long debate over hiplife’s true creator was revived on Wednesday’s Daybreak Hitz interview with music producer, Panji Anoff and hiplife artiste, Barima Sydney.
During the show, UK-born CEO of Pidgin Music, Panji Anoff said that the man believed by many to be the originator of hiplife, Reggie Rockstone, is merely responsible for the genre’s popularity.
“He’s the Godfather of hiplife. It is foolish journalists who have translated ‘Godfather’ into ‘creator’.”
Mr Anoff explained the difference between the two, posing the question “how can somebody who is influenced by others be the creator?”
He listed the likes of Talking Drums, Azigiza, and Mahoney P as the real pioneers of the music genre that combines hip-hop and highlife and as major influences on Reggie’s involvement in what eventually came to be known as hiplife.
“They convinced Reggie to start doing Twi, because [he] didn’t do Twi before them. He was rapping in English. Reggie came to Ghana and saw that…this Twi rap can work.”
The question of who dubbed the genre ‘hiplife’ is one that dates back quite far, having infamously taken over headlines in 2015 when renowned sound engineer and producer, Zapp Mallet, said in an interview that he invented the name ‘hiplife’ in 1994.
Insinuating that queries into who first introduced the term should not be so controversial, Panji rhetorically questioned,
“Why does it have to be branded by somebody?”
Without crediting anyone in particular for the name, Mr Anoff revealed that the existence of ‘hiplife’ dates back farther than Reggie Rockstone’s initial attraction to the music category.
“The word ‘hiplife’ had been used to describe the movement before Reggie came to Ghana,” he clarified.
Panji, who came to Ghana in 1991, recalls encounters with the Godfather/Grandpapa of hiplife during the early 1990s, when he says Rockstone was not yet interested in doing hiplife.
Despite his initial disinterest, after venturing into making music that combined hip-hop rapping and beats with aspects of highlife and a local Ghanaian language, Reggie Rockstone became known for popularizing ‘hiplife’ after the 1997 release of his first hiplife album, ‘Makaa Maka’.
When asked whether he felt Reggie had done anything wrong by accepting the title of hiplife’s Godfather or Grandpapa, Panji strongly disagreed, saying that the former deserves credit for what he has done for the genre.
Admitting to his personal use of the nickname, Mr Anoff reveal that Rockstone was responsible for making people understand what the aforementioned pioneers, amongst others, had been trying to relay for so long.
He expressed that he was happy about Reggie’s adoption of Twi in his music and the focus on hiplife, as he knew he would be crucial to the genre’s success.
“Reggie, himself, does not believe he is the creator of hiplife,” Panji confidently declared, despite Reggie Rockstone’s past claims of being the creator and originator of the music style and its name.
Reiterating that “foolish journalists” are to blame for the confusion, Mr. Anoff maintained, “I don’t believe that it is Reggie who wants to take all the credit.”
Over the years, the topic of hiplife’s origins has been a heated one, but the dialogue maintains an amicable tone when Panji affirms that he means no disrespect to his good friend, assuring that “I love Reggie dearly.”
In a related development, Barima Sidney, a long-time hiplife artiste and member of Nananom, added that he is very happy with hiplife’s progression and current state, in comparison to the early 1990s when not many people had faith in the genre.