Samini’s influence on dancehall music in Ghana is remarkable; spearheading it to become an alternative music to hiplife. But, in using his influence and status to make others become stars is where my admiration for him lies.
There is a popular Akan proverb that translate as a rope get to top thanks to a tree. The import of this widely known refrain is simple: nobody get to the pinnacle of life without help from others. Success does not just happen to you. Your success is based on the contribution of a person or group of people you meet in the course of life.
Be it in business, career development or other aspects of life, a helping hand comes to someone on the strength of their talents, ambitions, passions and enthusiasm. A remark, a co-sign, a recommendation, financial assistance or an unplanned meeting could open doors to realizing a dream.
In the music scene, the examples are endless. Kanye West meeting Jay Z and Damon Dash, Dave Free meeting Top Dawg Tiffith and playing him a Kendrick tape, Eminem meeting Dr. Dre via Rosenberg and Drake getting signed to Cash Money/Young Money (Lil Wayne) courtesy Prince Jaz.
The situation in Ghana is not far from this. Obrafour working with Hammer by way of Abraham Ohene-Djan. Akyeame meeting Zapp Mallet and Sarkodie impressing radio presenter Dr. Duncan, who became his manager and shepherded his illustrious career. Or Guru getting his break through an Obrafour feature, Reggie Rockstone teaming up with Dj Rab.
Samini, formerly known as Batman, a young and up-coming ragga artiste got noticed by former Ashanti International label head, Nana King around 2006. That meet up was courtesy another ragga artist, Sonny Bali who was one part of the duo Gee-Life. Gee-Life were signed to Ashanti International at that time and Sonny Bali was a recognizable name within the music circles in the 2000s.
That meeting with Nana King changed the life of Batman. From being the most featured artiste in Ghana to his first single-Linda and an album, Batman was on the throes of stardom. Ten years on, Samini’s musical catalogue is nothing less than envious.
His impact has been massive both within and outside music. The current feat being chalked by dancehall artistes today can be largely attributed to the distinguished contribution of Samini.
Samini did not pioneer dancehall music in Ghana. There were many before him. But, he drove the genre from the sidelines to the centre of the musical playfield; giving would-be dancehall artistes the belief to be different; to localize dancehall music as a way to satisfying the musical taste of Ghanaians.
One of the unwritten rules in the music industry when an artiste becomes successful is to use his new found success to help push other artistes (underground acts) to also reach the top by directly signing them or collaborating with them. And in the last ten years-or going back to when hiplife began in 1995- no artiste has used his position and influence to help underground artistes become mainstream success like Samini had.
The likes of Reggie Rockstone tried with the Mobile Boyz who never made any impact. Obrafour offered some rappers opportunity on his Execution Diary album but many could not break beyond that. Even the most successful rapper of our time, Sarkodie, has not groomed anyone to be formidable on the scene yet. Samini, however, has managed to offer some young and previously unknown acts the needed push to become stars, just like the gesture he received when he started out.
Direct beneficiaries of Samini’s ‘generosity’ include dancehall diva Kaakie and rapper cum singer Kofi Kinaata. Kaakie was the first artiste signed to High Grade Family/Samini Music label in 2012 and has had a very impressive run; becoming the foremost female dancehall act in Ghana for few years. Her success obviously inspired the likes of MzVee, AK Songstress and others-even if they reject this observation.
Kofi Kinaata was a Takoradi (Tadi) based rapper whose musical fortunes changed after getting noticed by Samini. His first radio hit, Onye Chorus (No Chorus) brought him some attention and on the back of it got swooped by Samini, who has since nurture him into one of the best rappers around-this is not to downplay Kinaata’s talent. His single ‘Susuka’ was huge that he won two awards at the 2016 Edition of the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards.
The impact of Samini on the musical career of especially the 2015 BET International Artiste of the Year, Stonebwouy is well documented. Stonebwouy has in numerous interviews revealed how Samini took him under his wings during his struggling days, virtually caring for him. He also was offered the opportunity to record and feature alongside Samini on singles and at shows.
The actions of Samini with regards to helping others realize their potentials is a clear attestation of the opening proverb referenced at the beginning of this article. He has become the tree, big and strong, that has helped the rope reach the top with his branches offering shade for others as well.
Within ten years, Samini has successfully built a stunning musical career whiles leveraging on his fame and status on the commercial and business front. He has also used his success to impact directly two notable artistes and indirectly others whiles staying relevant.
Samini may not be the most successful music act in the country at present but he still remains a force, one whose contribution to promoting dancehall music cannot be cheapened. And in helping other musicians, who might have been struggling to breakthrough if not for him, the ‘Rain God’ has definitely earned his stripes.