DREAM TEAM: THE STORY OF ASEM AND MAGNOM BEATS

mag Asem2

Ask me about any prominent personality from my alma mater, St. Peter’s Senior High School, outside the entertainment industry and I would be found wanting. Why speak about others when you have names like C-Real, Bebelino, Dampoo, 2Ras, 99Kay, Kwabena Kwabena, Obrafour just to mention a few.

Back in school ( a decade ago – 2005), there was a rap group by name The Dream Team whose two members have graduated from headlining variety shows during entertainment to dominating (or dominated) the music scene in Ghana and beyond. The members were Nana Wiafe Asante Mensah, popularly known as ASEM and Joseph Bulley aka Magnom Beats, a producer.

I won’t pretend to know much about their musical background prior to St. Peter’s. It was only said that ASEM had picked up few rap lines from his senior brothers to ‘show off’ at school (from St. John Junior High School to his early days at St. Peter’s). At St. Peter’s, ASEM was always spotted with a black backpack with “Asem of Hip hop” inscribed over a hand sketched headphone using a white correction fluid.

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ASEM once proclaimed himself Africa’s HOV (Jay Z)

Interestingly, the two were in the same class and unsurprisingly, were the first from the 2005 batch to mount the school’s entertainment stage, rapping in English; original pieces both had helped each other write.

The two later joined other rappers to form Front Liners and brought out the school’s first ever music compilation. ASEM dominated the tape. The entire compilation was produced and recorded by Richie Mensah (Richie) of Lynx Entertainment who was a school mate of Magnom at Christ the King School.

mag&asem

Magnom Beats (in white tee) and ASEM (with mic) with some members of Frontliners at St.Peter’s

Having established contacts with some big wigs on the entertainment scene and other close associates of the Lynx Family like OJ Black, ASEM became a close pal of Richie. This close bond and subsequent success for ASEM and Lynx developed because ASEM and his family had relocated to Achimota, the same neighbourhood as Richie.

ASEM found his musical success quite early, during his years at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) when Lynx Entertainment headed by producer Richie was starting out. Magnom went ‘quiet’ during his tertiary years at the University of Ghana where he honed his beats making skills; something he would unleash on the music scene years on.

Thanks to technology, specifically bluetooth which was an item on most smartphones during the late 2000s, ASEM had his first major breakthrough in 2009. Gimme Blow which was produced by Richie became a smash hit less via radio, more through bluetooth technology across the country.

The success of Gimme Blow established Lynx Entertainment Label as a force. ASEM, backed by Richie became a formidable team, dropping hit singles like Pigaro, Manger and Likel Girl. Many who knew ASEM were surprised at his transition from an English to a Twi rapper.

He released his maiden album Better Late Than Never in 2009. His success led to him headlining shows and performing on big stages including the Ghana Music Awards (GMA); performing “Gimme Blow” on stage at the awards night despite the song getting no nomination because of ‘its uncensored lyrics’

ASEM boasts sharing stage with hip hop icons such as Jay Z, Rick Ross, and Sway among others; brokered endorsement deals with Nigeria’s telecom giant Globacom and winning the GMA World Bank sponsored award for Music for Development with his School Dey Be song.

In 2011, in a move many still can’t figure out ASEM, almost through with his sophomore album decided to part ways with Lynx Entertainment in what both parties called mutual agreement.

During his time with Lynx Entertainment, he proved himself a good songwriter; penning hits like Frema, Runaway and Little Things for Richie, Irene Logan and EFYA respectively.

The other half of the Dream Team, Joseph ‘Magnom’ Bulley was, all this while a minnow within the music circuits. Together with his late brother Dominic ‘D. Mag’ Bulley, they began running their studio at Madina, Accra. The brothers began recruiting talents to work with. The first batch of people they worked with included Dampoo, Jackie Norris, Laylow, Bebelino, Gasmilla and Yung Pabi.

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Magnom (m) with his Blue Paper Crew

Magnom co-founded Blue Paper Entertainment, a record label that had most of the artiste the brothers worked with signed to it.  Hard work and good contacts saw Magnom growing in stature, with success running through his studio doors.

HARD TIMES

In 2011, in a move many still can’t figure out ASEM, almost through with his sophomore album decided to part ways with Lynx Entertainment in what both parties called mutual agreement. Speculations were rife that Lynx was not able to decide on the future direction of their biggest artiste.

Before the split, promotion of singles for his second album had begun. “No More Kpayor”, “Ebi Your Own” which featured VIP was getting rotation on radio and the clubs. The artiste, whiles dealing with his split from Lynx, was hit with a rape allegation. In a move to clear his name and put issues in perspective, ASEM reached out to his Dream Team partner, Magnom and his brother to record “Moati”, a song produced by D.Mag and featured Laylow.

Magnom lost his brother not too long after “Moati” was released. This was a heavy career blow for the young, up and coming producer. The producer was around the same time struggling to relocate to his studio from Madina to Adabraka – his current place.

Instead of Magnom sulking over the painful loss, he found in this unfortunate event a renewed strength and purpose leading him to becoming the ‘Go-To’ producer for those in search for that big hit.

BACK TO WORK AGAIN

The determination of the Dream Team members rose above these setbacks. ASEM started his WBDN Record Label. Magnom had adjusted to the loss of D. Mag and settled in his new studio at Adabraka. The Dream Team was good to go.

The first song released under this ‘Dream Team Reunion’ was “Last Song”, a sequel to ‘Fylla’, released by ASEM the previous year where he recounts the year’s big news in the music/arts scene.

https://www.hulkshare.com/ghrapciti/asem-the-last-song

Last Song did not only thrust ASEM’s name back within the music scene, it also introduced another name into the music production arena in Ghana; Magnom.

The Dream Team was back albeit each involved with their solo projects whiles keeping strong friendship and business ties.

ASEM’s next single was the Kaywa produced classic “Bye Bye” which featured crooner Kwabena Kwabena. Even those who did not like him gave the song its due recognition. His grounds in the music industry had become solid and this resurgence paved the way for the release of his second studio album Solid Ground.

Unlike his first album which was entirely produced by Richie, the second featured the likes of Richie, Kaywa, Jayso and Magnom- who produced a greater part of it. Songs on the album included “Bye Bye”, “Ede Go On”, “No More Kpayor” and “Something”.

The Dream Team was back albeit each involved with their solo projects whiles keeping strong friendship and business ties.

In 2013, Magnom inched up his popularity within the music circles with the production of Sarkodie’s smash hit Illuminati. Though a Sarkodie song, one can never make mention of the song without acknowledging the brilliance put in by Magnom. Following the success of Illuminati, Sarkodie and Magnom have collaborated on many other projects.

In 2014, Magnom kept the whole continent dancing when he produced Edem’s “Koene” which featured Zambian rap empress Cloe the Ice Queen and Lil Shaker. Magnom’s production credits include the likes VVIP, Pappy Kojo, Joey B, Samini and the list keeps growing by the day.

On his own, Magnom has collaborated with his ‘partner in crime’ Lil Shaker on a couple of covers including “Click”, “We Tear Chain” and “Bugatti”. He has also released a couple of singles in a build up to his maiden album. Singles off his yet to be released album include “Kpa”( a dance music banger featuring Castro), “Jam Jam” and “I No Dey See You Sef”.

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Success is defined by consistency and truth be told ASEM, after ‘Bye Bye’, failed to stay consistent and relevant. ASEM’s woes stem from the fact that he has failed to make another song at par or above Bye Bye. He has become as a friend described ‘a top contender now playing catch up’.

His attempt to reclaim his spot has been woefully inadequate leading to what seems to be a temporary retirement. His joint album with Samini never came materialized despite the release of a single-Running Away produced by Magnom. His third studio album, Tough Times Don’t Last (TTDL) which was released in 2014 for free failed to live up to expectation even though it had good compositions like ‘Love’, ‘Wasted’, ‘Hold You Tonight’ featuring Wutah Afriyie, ‘Fela’, ‘Nightmare’, ‘Buyaka’ with Black Prophet and “Go Harder”. Most of the productions on the album were by Magnom.

A lot of questions have been raised about the future of ‘controversial’ ASEM. His decision to relocate from Ghana to USA, his new appearance and a health campaign he is now championing, raises more eyebrows about what he has to offer.

Lately, the young and dynamic producer, Mike Millz handles most of ASEM’s new recordings The two have released a couple of joints- “I Aint Gone Lie”, the controversial “BRA” and “Seim” which got a couple of rotations. The most recent song by ASEM was Wifey, a Brainy Classic Riddim put out mid 2015.

ASEM and Magnom have a story that transcends today. Their path crossed earlier in their younger days (they are still young) and it’s interesting how their dreams have evolved till date. Whiles ASEM seems to be inactive on the music scene for now, Magnom continues to stay on top of his game with his production.

Word on street has it that the Dream Team have something cooking in the studio. Would the magic of the Dream work? Only time can tell.

Written by @swayekidd @forksafo and @mannyfbc

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