DJ RAB: A PIONEERING FIGURE IN HIPLIFE
‘’Yeah! Yeah!! Yeah!!! Reggie Rockstone live on the set/ ‘Bout to bring the new hit Yo’
That opening voice (watch video) to Reggie Rockstone’s hit track, 3y3 Mu D3 Anaa? (Y’all Feeling It?) belongs to one of the pioneering figures in hip life. He can be described as one of the boulders used in building the foundation of this music genre. He was the man behind Reggie Rockstone (the Grand papa) in the mid 90s when hip life was attempting to fit in the narrow musical space in Ghana acting as a producer, DJ and hype man.
The name DJ RAB (Rab Bakari) may sound unfamiliar to some but not those who have watched hip life grow from a side dish to the main course in terms of music in Ghana. DJ Rab is one of the early producers who dreamt, designed, built Villa de Hiplife.
With his background as a New Yorker, it was not surprising to see his production repertoire boasting of NY inspired hip hop sound bites of the late 80s and early 90s- mainly upbeat sounds and laid back grooves crafted along the lines of those of Funk Master Flex, Dr. Dre and Wu-Tang.
DJ Rab masterminded the first two (2) albums of Reggie Rockstone; his debut MAKA MAKA (I Have Said It) and his sophomore MENA ME KAE (I Said It). The relationship between DJ Rab and Reggie Rockstone took off after the latter saw Reggie in a club in Accra rapping over a Fugees instrumental. The dexterity of Reggie Rockstone-his ability to flip back and forth in English and Twi wowed DJ Rab who decided to make beats for Reggie Rockstone once Reggie secured him some beats making equipments. To Groove Studios they headed and the recording of Maka Maka commenced back in 1997.
DJ Rab (R) and Reggie Rockstone
DJ Rabs classic productions could be heard on songs such as the trans-generational bridging classic ’Keep Your Eyes On The Road, Agoo, 3y3 Mu D3 Anaa?,Sweetie Sweetie,Plan B3n, among many others.
Now back in New York as the boss at Mixport, a music promotion, and event organizing company after serving as the Project manager/Director of Pre-media Services and Digital Workflow for all labels under Universal Music Group in North America for 13 years, DJ Rab is now, through Mixport, promoting music from Africa in particular to the rest of the world.
DJ Rab (L) with songstress EFYA
With interests spanning graffiti, technology (tech industry), break dancing, his vast music knowledge coupled with his quest to promote music especially African music has served as an attraction for music event organizers, who continuously invite
him to share his knowledge and expertise. He has been invited as a panel member at SXWS Music Festival in 2013 and 2014 and other global music events. He was enlisted as a panel member at this year’s All African Music Awards (AFRIMA).
With his strong influence on the music scene in Ghana especially during the mid 90s when hip life was making an entry in the music sphere, it is very much a travesty that his achievements have not been acknowledged enough.
It won’t be out of place for the stakeholders in the industry –event organizers etc to take a look at DJ Rab’s career and legacy and give him a pat on the back for his role in helping planting the tree hip life from which we all enjoy its shade.
Hip life has now grown beyond the shores of Ghana in less than two decades and some of our artistes are earning respect across the globe. In all this, it will be totally unfair, next to criminal not to celebrate or honour the pioneers who helped entrenched hip life in the conscience of the Ghanaian. It’s About Time the heroes get recognized.
Who is with me?