Samini’s influence on dancehall music in Ghana is remarkable, spearheading it to becoming 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 gets 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 influenced by the contribution(s) of a person or group of people whom 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.
The examples are endless within the music scene: 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 Jimmy Iovine; 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 by courtesy another artist, Sonny Bali who was a part of the music group 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 early 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 feat being chalked by dancehall artists today can largely be 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 play field; 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 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 1994, no artiste has used his position and influence to help underground artistes become mainstream success like Samini.
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 superstar, Stonebwoy, diva Kaakie and rapper cum singer Kofi Kinaata. Kaakie was the first female artiste signed to High Grade Family/Samini Music label in 2012 and 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 dispute this fact.
Kofi Kinaata is 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 so huge that it won two awards at the 2016 Edition of the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards in the New Artist and Songwriter of the Year categories.
The impact of Samini on the musical career of 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 come up days, virtually caring for him. He also was offered the opportunity to record and feature alongside Samini on some of his singles and performed alongside him on some shows.
The actions of Samini in respect to helping others realize their potentials is a clear attestation to the proverb referenced at the beginning of this article. He has become that huge tree 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 directly impact the careers of two notable artistes and indirectly influencing others while 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 by helping other musicians, who might have been struggling to breakthrough if not for him, the ‘Rain God’ has definitely earned his stripes.