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Opinions of Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Columnist: Adjomah, Xorse Joshua

Edem - The Untold Stories Behind The Headlines!

“Even though came the fame, celebrity status, respect and recognition came from other rappers on campus and other schools in the region back then, it was never shy of its problems here and there, he stood firm just like a Soldier of Christ ‘Sicut miles Christi’, pursued his dream and held on to what is Good” 12:45pm was the second break time as usual in the 2000 Form 3 class of Amazing Love School one of the best private schools in Ghana(now thought to be the best boarding/day private school in the Volta Region) and whiles thinking of going to spend my last coins for the day or perch from a boarder so I can save some money for my favorite ‘alagba’(baobab fruits) ice cream at the school gate or grab ‘sakomi’ bread at the Ghana border town of Aflao I overheard some students in the other class making ‘noise’ with their desk and some ‘beats’ from their mouth. As curios as I am, I drew closer only to realize that it was a group of young wannabe rappers and beat makers trying to mimic their favorite hip-life and hip-hop artiste at that time led by Agbeviadey ‘Rocky Tony’ Anthony and included Abdul Sallam, Tasmania, Dean Bonzi, Mallo Dodzi, Sokpin ‘Buju’ rapping songs from Obrafour’s Pae Muka Album, Buk Bak, Keteke, Reggie Rockstone’s ‘Maka’ album, Eminem, DMX, Sisquo, Wyclef Jean and Bienieman from a very small audio cassette player or we called ‘Walkman’. Upon hearing these wannabe rappers I even forgot about what to eat and spent the whole break time listening to these dudes. I was amazed as how they were able to memorize all those lyrics and rapped along as the music was being played. Their performance led by Rocky Tony or better still ‘Rocky T’ drew a small enthusiastic crowd of students who were witnessing this for the first time. It was such a breathtaking performance by these students that by the time I realized it was break time and even though I was hungry during the two class periods after the break, at least I had some money to go grab my favorite ‘’alagba’’ ice cream

What made this group unique was that they were all boarding students and included a Nigerian, a Togolese and an American. Ever since that breakthrough performance took place, I occasionally sighted them during free periods rehearsing under trees and the area around the school latrine and at the back at the boys’ dormitory just waiting for that golden moment where they will get needed ‘official’ attention, recognition and endorsement in the school. That moment came even earlier than they thought when they collaborated with ‘Echoes of Heaven’ one of the popular gospel all boys group on campus to perform during our usual Sunday service. The performance was over the roof, unique, unpredictable, good, inspiring, great and legendary that their fame spread throughout the school and other high schools in the district including St. Paul’s Sec. School ‘SPACO’ like bush fire in the harmattan. There were even some ‘unconfirmed’ rumors that they even performed at some gigs in Lome, Togo and during SPACO’s Saturday night entertainment and even collaborated with ‘2kleff’ (a very popular artiste back in the day at the school).

They became local ‘celebrities’ and whiles we were all preparing for our final BECE exams these ‘legends’ in the making were also preparing for their ‘final show’ alongside. The Groups resilience and its ability to withstand waves and tides came when the whole school woke up in the morning to hear the news of the sudden death of Agbeviadey ‘Rocky T’ Anthony’s Mum. This came as a shock to some of us as I remember enjoying that ‘agbozume kpornor’ a.k.a ‘ayigbe’ biscuit she used to bring any time she came to visit. In as much as it was a big blow to Rocky T, the group and the whole 2000 year batch as a whole, life had to go on and to those who thought that was the end of the group were mistaken as a big surprise was about to hit us in the face especially our year batch.

On the final day of our BECE, whiles we were wondering how to celebrate our ‘graduation’ from school into the world Rocky T and his colleagues planned a whole event which featured rap performances and dance performances from Castro ‘Zayaa’ and ‘Paradise’ without even the knowledge of the school authorities. The ‘after party’ at the boys dormitory was a bomb even though we heard some students including members of the ‘famous’ group ‘flew’ to ‘white dove’ at Dzodze to end their stay at Amazing Love School even though it still remained a ‘rumor’ till date.

I got admission into my first choice school Bishop Herman College and made new friends and as well as met old friends especially from Amazing Love School too. Whilst packing my truck and ‘chop box’ from my Dad’s car, there I met my buddy and ‘rapper’ from Amazing Love School Rocky T now known as ‘Exodus’. After hugging each other and some chit chats I realized we were going to be in the same class Form 1 ‘F’ but unfortunately different houses (I was in St. Maurice house whiles he was in St. Benedict). At Bishop Herman College like any boys school created the enabling environment for young talents to showcase their acts through its many clubs, societies, associations and the weekly Saturday entertainment. The school had so many rap artistes and groups which included Cash Money(Pizo & Highlander),Wuff-Pak(Mafia, Stincozy, Gaddafi) Wu Tang Klan(Makavelli, Snoop & Biggy Smalls) so it created that competitive environment for one to strive hard to be the best as compared to Amazing Love where he and his dudes where like ‘thin gods’.

It only took the French Club funfair at OLA Girls, Ho and the BHOLA-COLA Funfair organized by the Junior Achievement in collaboration with the GUNSA Club, BIHECO & OLA Girls at BIHECO which also featured the late Terry Bonchaka for Exodus to show the ‘already made’ rappers as mentioned above in BIHECO and other schools in the region that a new star has arrived and come to stay, as he performed alongside ‘Cash Money’ which featured Pizo & Highlander of BHC on their popular track ‘more money’ at OLA even though he was just a first year junior ‘nino’. It was after that performance that Exodus earned that respect and recognition from other rappers on campus and other schools in the region even though it also came with its problem here and there but just like a Soldier of Christ ‘Sicut miles Christi’, he stood firm and pursued his dream and held on to what is good. One will always see Exodus on campus with an earphone from his Walkman listening to music or some instrumental rehearsing for Saturday night variety show or buried in his favorite Government and Literature books. I remember him telling me he wanted to follow in his Dad’s footstep to become a Judge or a Lawyer even though Music will forever be his number one love.

So Exodus realizing that his seniors who he performed with will leave school very soon and also realizing there is strength in unity at this stage together with Dzide “Paradize” and Deku ‘Zayaa’ Castro all soldiers from Amazing Love School formed “Disaster Klan”. Exodus rapped in English, Paradize rapped in Ewe and Patois whereas Zayaa apart from being the hype man and dancer was the ‘swagga’ behind the whole group. Disaster Klan became a toast of all students during Saturday night entertainment and funfair programs, their choreography dance moves were captivating, stage control was awesome, personality was incredible, showmanship and performance was impressive. Exodus being the versatile, commercial and market oriented person that he is decided the group needed a new face and change”. Jesse ‘Kemikalz’ Timilang Nakaar and Lumor ‘StiMa’ Jonathan joined the group in that process, Disaster Klan thus metamorphosed into “Shackles Klan” and later “Ringmasterz”. I still remember that captivating and off the chain performance during entertainment one Saturday evening when whilst our seniors went out on a field trip and every student was wondering how entertainment was going to be like. The Ringmasterz took over the show and killed it. They continued to perform at Fun Fairs in other schools in the Volta, Eastern, and Greater-Accra and Central regions like OLA Girls, Spaco, Ketascho, Mawuli, Krobo and Mawuko Girls. Their fame even caught the attention of the ‘The BIHECAN’, the official magazine of the school which featured them in the magazine. Ringmasterz wasn’t all about fun and performing at schools but also as part of their ‘corporate social responsibility’ to the school composed a song in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the school in 2002 and performed it with a live band. The group again showed its versatility when they performed a gospel song with their own remix of Bennieman’s ‘Gospel time’ during the regional meeting of Young Christian Society which was held on our campus. The group also wrote and performed songs with positives messages on social vices like Drug abuse and HIV/AIDS (official ambassadors of the school on the campaign on drug abuse).

Surprisingly even with all this fame back then Exodus and other members of the Ringmasterz were grade A students. Exodus in particular was one of the top Government, History and Literature students in our class and won the first prize award in English literature/History during the 50th Anniversary of Bishop Herman College in 2002.

Exodus and the Ringmasterz continued with their exploits all the way to the final year and even though at a point he and some members of the group had some disciplinary issues with the school authorities. And as if by coincidence disaster struck the group and the whole school when we woke up to the news of the death of his Dad whiles we were preparing for our final exams. The group as usual was shattered and while that was not enough, some of its members were also suspended indefinitely school by the authorities for individual offences. As to what happened to the Ringmasterz after Bishop Herman College still remains a mystery but for Exodus just like a Soldier of Christ ‘Sicut miles Christi’ just like the motto of BIHECO, he stood firm and pursued his dream and held on to what is good just like the motto of Amazing Love School ‘Hold fast to what is good’. So with his talent, experiences and tragedies he stepped out into the world in search of opportunities to achieve his music dream. Whiles grinding, hustling, chasing and nursing that dream, then came his “Angel Gabriel” and later his adopted Father Nana “Hammer” Poku Osei of “The Last Two Music” gave birth to Ayigbe Edem (Exodus) and now Edem. This is the true account of how Edem started and not what is being said out there.

Adjomah Xorse Joshua