During my school days, I was taught that education (teaching and learning) does not happen in a vacuum, there is always a medium through which education happens. Sometimes this medium is the classroom other times too it is the teaching and learning resources used. In the same vein let me ask have you ever heard a music album without a single instrumental, beats or sound?
Even in music without any of these, the echoes of the singer’s voice is used to create a harmonious pattern for the music to flow with, to make it worthy of listening. In music, instrumentals or beats play a significant role in the success or failure of the song.
It must be stated unequivocally that better sound engineers and quality sound has made some average musicians best sellers and overnight stars. The rhythm and tempo of a song is really felt through the beats, again, beats of a song evoke hidden emotions buried in a song and exude tickling emotions that make us relate with the song.
Aside, lyrics most of our favorite song is because of its beats because instrumentals are the medium by which music is carried to our senses in such a way that it caresses and let the soul fly without wings as we digest the meaning of the song. Safe and sound by Taylor Swift, The City by The Game, and Kendrick Lamar, Who born you by mistake? By Obrafour and Bazaar (Blitz the Ambassador), Stomp by Kirk Franklin, and other songs evokes different shades of emotions that make music easier to assimilate.
In the Ghanaian music industry we can not talk about sound engineering especially the Ghanaian hip hop without bowing down to Edward Nana Opoku Osei, a.k.a Hammer of the Last Two. In his two and coins decades in the music industry, Hammer has paid his dues in the wallet of rap music.
His calling into music was kind of invitation by a friend (Way Deep) who felt he (Hammer) had the knack of analyzing and critiquing music in such a way like the pros do. A descendant of Otumfuor Opoku Ware (former Asantehene) and a kid who spent most of his childhood outside the shores of Ghana (in the US and U.K), Hammer could have chosen a different career path other than music. But, all that he wanted to do as a kid was music and this dream he followed till it affected him academically and his parents had no other option than to let him follow his heart.
In Ghana’s rap business, Hammer is the ‘Omo’ that washes rappers spotless clean with beats, a springboard that levitates underground and young rappers to uncommon success. We can talk of Obrafour, Tinny, Ayigbe Edem, Kwaw Kese, Sarkodie among a tall list of rappers who all received grooming from Uncle Hammer, and now they are all multinational and cross-cultural acts.
In his journey as a cross – cultural music producer a case can be made of Tinny, a young Ga rapper who wanted to rap in Twi because of the Twi monopoly in then Ghana rap industry, which resulted in a conflict between him (Tinny) and Hammer, because Hammer wanted him to maintain his Ga rap class.
In order to convince Tinny that he can actually survive as a Ga rapper, he did the acid by putting Tinny on Obrafour’s ‘Oye Ohene’s’ remix which made Tinny an instant hit and earned him a place on the Execution Diary with his song I believe I can I fly, alongside another upcoming artiste Kwaw Kese with ‘Oye Nonsense’.
Hammer realized that the change of language Tinny wanted would self-destruct him, because he could not compete with the Twi rappers but, the Ga language will set him apart and will serve as a new delicacy for those who bored with Twi rap.
After Tinny’s success, Hammer brought in another rapper from the Fante land Kwaw Kese; Kwaw’s dexterity with the Fante language and his gangster hip hop class music, along with his ‘Mad Man’ nickname and backed by Uncle Hammers beat made him readily accepted by the masses.
He became a necessity good because of high demands for him at concerts and this led to the recording of his second hit ‘Kwakwa’ which also followed the success of Oye Nonsense which had already cemented him in Ghana’s music.
When people thought Hammer was done with non- Twi rappers, he released another beast Ayigbe Edem, Edem like Tinny or Kwaw Kese spoke Ewe the native language for the people of the Volta region, and though we had had Chicago who rap in Ewe during his days, Hammer brought in Ayigbe Edem who came to stay not to try and survive like Chicago. Edem received seven nominations for his debut album Volta Regime (though I can’t speak Ewe, Edem is one of my favorite rappers from Ghana)
Hammers magic recipe of delicious beats can be felt in classics like Who born you by mistake? (Obrafour and Bazar (Blitz the Ambassador)), Ako (Obrafour), Deeba (Deeba), Elijah (Sarkodie and Obrafour), you dey craze (Kwaw Kese, Edem and Sarkodie), Nyunyoviade (Edem), Saa okodie no (Sarkodie and Obrafour) among other songs.
The Execution Diary (a compilation he did with Obrafour), Sounds of our time and the crusade of the lost file we’re projects he used to shoot some underground artiste to fame, Okra, Motia, Kwaw Kese, Tinny, Boli, Edem are some of the few names I can mention. Before I forget, Hammer was also instrumental in the career of Bazaar (Blitz the Ambassador) (my all-time favorite Ghanaian rapper), when he featured him on Obrafour’s who born you by mistake and Deeba’s Deeba.
Hammer has been that nail that joins good rap and better instrumentals together to create a melody worth dancing to in Ghana’s music industry. He is the springboard that made non – Twi rap take a leap of faith, which in the end has brought some diversity in our rap settings.
In his work with the non- Twi rappers, Hammer showed that in rap craft is more important than language, because if you master your craft well people will buy your language at the highest price. Aside music sound engineering, Hammer occasionally does music score for movies and the ‘Bloody Streets’ is one of those movies.
For many years Hammer has been the backbone of hip hop made in Ghana and a cross – cultural music producer who believes in talent, craft and hard work and not necessarily language, his focus on rap music is one his key survival ingredients. Beloved before you sleep tonight, kindly get any music from Uncle Hammer and use it as a lullaby there you will see how he presents music to your heart through his medium, through his handicrafts, through his beats.
Author: Kofi Flair