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Opinions of Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Columnist: Isaac Kyei Andoh

My take on Shatta Wale's Gringo song/video

1 minute 40 seconds long song, 7 minutes 07 seconds short classic musical clip, 23 casts and Zylofon Cash #

I love Shata Wale for one reason: he never gives up. He is one of the few musicians who kept trying for over a decade without success and still sustained the drive to succeed until it worked for him. His story should be rightly told to inspire the many young people who find themselves frustrated because the light at the end of the tunnel appear to have been switched off. It pays to believe in yourself, chase your dream and believe.

Now, he is one of our top artist, second only to Sarkodie in my books with a dedicated fanbase that deem even his cough better than all of Michael Jackson songs put together. For all his successes over the past 5 years, it is his inability to make reasonable impact beyond the shores of Ghana that has become his Achilles heel.

I believe this craving was key in his decision to sign on to the Zylofon Project.

With the Talent of Shatta Wale and Nana Appiah's seemingly unlimited pool of money, the ball is back into the Shatta’s court. He now has to keep on churning out hits because it'd be matched with the right investment to propel his career to the height that has so far eluded him.

This is where the danger is, should he stay true to himself, release the kind of songs that has made him a household name or change his style and sing songs that will be expected to attract the world beyond Ghana and make him the international hit he so dearly craves and definitely deserves.

In my estimation, the two should be married but too much change can hurt his career. Dancehall doesn’t mean sing in patoa throughout, it is more about the beat, rhythm than the language. This is why Rihanna can have one song in both RnB and Dancehall formats without changing the language or words of the song with the only difference being in beat and rhythm.

In view of this, what Shatta Wale needs now is quality production to better reflect the genre of music he’s elected himself king of and sing in any language he wants. The objective should always be to be on top primarily in Ghana and use that as the base to climb the so called international ladder.

The barrier to our music making waves abroad has never been about language. If that was the case, Manifest should not be in the Shadows of Sarkodie who sings predominantly in the local language. The finest African musicians of ages past succeeded because they sung in their native languages. You can’t sing in English better than an America. This is why Wiyala is making waves internationally.
That brings me to the Shata Wale’s Gringo music and video.

The Song Gringo

I don’t know how well it might do but to be honest, in my estimation, Shatta Wale gave much less than he could have given. The whole song is about 1.40 minutes and that is very short when you consider the fact that the average length of songs in recent times is about 3 minutes. I love the fact that in terms of style, he tried something new and different but it was a bit lazy to go that short and coming from a hard working artist like Shatta was strange. Beyond that, I love the style and rhythm. Lyrically, like with many dancehall songs, I can’t make much of it. An extra verse would have made the better and more detailed to derive a better meaning from it.

The Video

I like the video because I am a country music fan and therefore the settings fits into the country life I so admire though from a distance. It is up there with the finest musical clip of any African song in the modern era if analysed in isolation from the song.

The video talks of a hard-core guy who comes to town, dominates the king of that jungle and took his crown. I don’t know how to link the Gringo Ringo whatever in that context even though in all honesty, the one minute forty seconds song aside being short wasn’t bad in any way.

Though I’m not an expert in assessing videos, I know what quality is and that is what I saw: quality.

The video was 7.07 minutes but the actual Song is 1.40 minutes. This means that over 5 minutes of the seven minutes video was closer to a movie than a musical clip and that gave it a feel of a movie trailer. It is easy not to like the song because the quality of the video, the first 2:22 minutes of acting that preceded the song raised the expectations of people and that wasn’t met. The video is by a mile the very best Shatta Wale has shot but Gringo, though not bad in anyway falls considerably short of that standard. I will prefer this video for his ‘Taking Over’ song any day over Gringo.

In fact, the storyline of the video can be developed into a full movie with Shatta Playing the ‘New Sheriff in town’ role he played and it’d be a major hit globally. With over 23 casts in the video acting so professionally, they’d have done a great job. But they went there to shoot a music video and so it has to be analysed in a music video context.

I will say kudos for the effort to do something different and scale higher heights. Charles Nii Armah has proven to be that guy who stops at nothing until his dream is achieved. The challenge is to be recognised beyond Ghana but it’d be dangerous for his career if he gets fixated about it.
It should be done without changing so much. The haste to go international is exactly what killed Dbanj’s career.

It’s a journey that will not always be smooth even with Nana Apiah’s money and Shatta Wale’s talent and relentlessness. What is most needful is that everyone involved give their best.

The quality of the Gringo Video and the cost of putting that together clearly shows that Nana Appiah is ready and Shatta must be ready to match it too and that should not be with 1 minute 40 seconds song.

That said, congratulations to both parties for trying and doing Ghana proud with a top quality video.

Finally, if we stop the hate, stop talking down our fellow countrymen doing something for themselves and support them, we will raise great people in this country because Ghana is blessed with talents. The fact that you like Shatta Wale should in no way mean kick against Stonebwoy. I’ve seen some damning reviews about the song on social media and I don’t think it should be encouraged. We have to criticise to build and not to destroy

It is only in Ghana that people support foreign artists unconditionally and talk down their own people doing something similar and even sometimes better. It is a very regressive mentality

Let’s support our own and stop the hate GH.