The decision by dancehall artists Stonebwoy and Shatta Wale to mend their differences after the VGMAs debacle is not only redemptive but economic as well.
The night was supposed to become a famous one for Ghana music. However, it turned out to be as INFAMOUS as the dictionary definition of the adjective is. Two of our prominent artists and their followers marred the show.
The story of Stonebwoy pulling a gun on stage while receiving his ‘’Best Dancehall Artist’’ award following the unprovoked rush on the same stage by Shatta Wale, his “antagonist” – and team of fans is well documented. The fracas not only got both social and mainstream media – including the blogosphere the proverbial fodder to cud on, it also resulted in Charter House, organizers of the event to strip them of the awards they had won on the night. Consequently, the two artists were banned from the awards until further notice. The decision of Charter House became a point of debate. Likewise the explanations from ‘spokespersons’ of the two artists on what exactly occasioned the melee. Notable among them was the reason given by Bull Dogg, which radio/TV host, Bernard Avle described as ‘’cock and bull story’’.
Last week, photos began circulating online of the two artists having met to resolve their tiff. The picture had the two sitting together. Online, opinions were split: some applauded the efforts while others saw it as a forced reconciliation effort. Their reason was based on Stonebwoy’s body language in the picture. He apparently did not look happy or comfortable, they said.
On Tuesday, another video popped up of the two artists speaking at a press conference. The conversation was not about what was said. Rather, it was the surprise kiss Shatta Wale planted on the cheek of Stonebwoy when the latter was speaking. The series of events post the VGMA19 debacle has been an excellently coordinated public relation (PR) campaign that must be admired. Whether you believe this to be a true effort at fixing the problem or not, one thing is assured: the two are playing the game of restitution from their constant intransigence.
The reason for this goes beyond redemption and reconciliation. This is largely an issue of economics. Both Stonebwoy and Shatta Wale have inked various deals with companies who would likely cut off the relationship. Such decision would hurt the pocket of the artists. One way to forestall any such action bytheir sponsors is to go a step further from the press releases and apology statements to demonstrating and backing up their words.
Again, Shatta Wale has not hidden the fact that most of his antagonistic posture is not borne out of hatred or jealousy for his ‘rivals’ but a way for them to benefit economically from the faux ‘beef’. That is, the interest that his rants and antics towards another artist is to create a hype, get people talking, make records and benefit from the whole aura that it generates. In an interview on Joy FM’s weekend entertainment show ‘’Rhythms A-Z’’ during his media tour ahead of his ‘’Reign’’ album release, Shatta Wale spoke on how he was disappointed Samini did not take advantage of his ‘beef’ with him to make some money. According to him, Samini should have seized the moment, added to the hype by made good ‘diss’ records. Samini, however, failed to see the bigger picture thus losing out. Pressed on about his situation with label mate Stonebwoy – this was at the height of their conflict, Shatta Wale made the same point. In his view, they can finesse the system by putting out a collaborative project or a concert where they could stand to benefit economically.
Stonebwoy has a reputation to protect and uphold. In the eyes of the public, he is the ‘humble gentleman’ whose genteel nature was tested by Shatta Wale, a serial tormentor who has built a reputation as a ‘street kid’ – unhinged, unpredictable, ruble rouser- who does not care much about losing sponsorships. The ‘street bred’ culture has served him well – his large dedicated fan base share similar ‘ghetto youth’ ethos as him. Stonebwoy does not have that luxury. He has consciously built his reputation as a nice, level headed guy who eschews violence and moves like a professional artist/businessman. His posture, many believe is a reason why he has refused to engage directly with or descend to the level of Shatta Wale in their squabbles.
What happened on May 18th at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) Dome was very repugnant and unprofessional. The two artists cannot be excused on any level. Their actions brought bad press to Ghana and its growing music. They realizing their folly and taking steps to mend it for their own economic good as well as a pseudo – apology to Ghanaians is a good step which must be respected even if the whole process is staged. It is said that a wise person is the one who realizes his mistakes and takes ardent steps to rectify them. Stonebwoy and Shatta Wale have exemplified the truth in this Akan proverb.