Veteran musician Rex Omar believes that given the nature of songs done by Shatta Wale, he should be called a highlife artiste rather than a dancehall musician.
He said Shatta Wale has been releasing songs that clearly make him a highlife artiste and not the dancehall artiste that many know him as.
Born Charles Nii Armah Mensah Jnr, Shatta Wale is known as one of Ghana’s biggest, if not the biggest, dancehall act.
But Rex Omar explained in an interview with Joy Business that, “I have listened to three or four Shatta Wale songs, beautiful songs, big hits, every aspect of the song to me, is his own creation of a new brand of highlife but he prefers to call it dancehall. He is using different instruments to play some of the elements of highlife.”
He cited the beats/rhythm of Shatta Wale’s ‘Baby (Chop Kiss)’ “as typical highlife. It has nothing to do with dancehall but he prefers to call it dancehall because he looks up to them.”
The ‘Abiba’ hit singer faulted Ghanaian musicians for not being proud of what they have but are rather obsessed with trying to be like musicians from other parts of the world.
“Jamaica, small country like Kumasi, they believed in themselves, they’ve preserved their culture, marketed it throughout the world and … Ghanaians want to be like them,” he said.
Rex Omar revealed that left to him alone, Shatta Wale should not hold himself out as the ‘Dancehall King,’ he should rather call himself, ‘Highlife King’.
“It would have been far much more beautiful. If I had my way, I would have advised Shatta Wale to be the ‘King of Highlife’ around the globe because most of the things he is doing [have] more highlife elements in [them]. Jamaicans will never accept him as a dancehall artiste but he sits in Ghana and he says he is ‘Dancehall King’ meanwhile I see him as a ‘Highlife King’,” he noted.
Rex Omar, who is currently the Chairman of the Ghana Music Rights Organisation (GHAMRO), won’t fault the current generation of musicians for diluting Ghanaian music and giving it different names.
“[It] started during our time that is why highlife or our traditional music was diluted and we mixed funk to highlife and started calling it ‘Borga’ highlife that is where the dilution started then it went on,” he explained.
“Then we see the bands started mimicking the American musicians and it went on and then now we see all the top Ghanaian artistes, even if he is playing highlife, he wants to call it dancehall or hiplife,” Rex Omar concluded.