Art/Culture

THE 7 LAWS OF SHATTA WALE

Shatta-WaleShatta Wale is a household name. No debating that. Before you start a long argument about your position on his brand and influence, pause and read what these thinkers/professional speakers Bernard Kelvin Clive and Jeremiah Buabeng have to say about the phenomenon that is Shatta Wale.

  1. The Law of Controversy: if I can stir a controversy at every unique point in time, I can keep my name on the lips of the Ghanaian on the street and therefore sustain my name recognition and my relevance. That’s it! The Shatta brand thrives on controversy. And he doesn’t fail to deliver one every now and then for our entertainment and for his profit.
  1. The Law of Anti-Establishment: Wale is not unaware of growing public sentiment against institutions such as Charterhouse. He takes advantage of it by calling them out for a duel every now and then and posturing as the victim. Does it work? You bet!
  1.  The Law of Disruptive marketing: he, unlike, other artistes always knows how to start top of mind and get the media to keep talking about him. In that way he thrives. He uses his cunning disrupting ways to break the news about his music and movements. Thinking about the fake Adidas move? Yeah! You have got the drift now! A savvy business man, he is!
  1. The Law of the Rebrand: When the first brand isn’t working, rebrand! Wale strategically and successfully rebranded from the then ‘Bandana’ brand that failed to attract him the needed clout to the much widely revered brand “Shatta Wale”.  His rebranding is arguably the most successful by any contemporary artist. It has worked wonders and still thriving. He didn’t only secure a name rebrand, but also devised a strategy to annex his genre of music – dancehall.

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  1.  The Law of the Tribe: he has built an enormous tribe – The Shatta Movement (SM), something most brands, his predecessors and even peers couldn’t build or manage. He has a raving fan base that has become his core tool to push his brand to the masses and consequently to the top. A strategy emerging artistes must learn and adopt but of course one that takes genius to execute.
  1. The Law of Unconventional: it’s the 21st century, folks, and you can’t capture people’s imagination if you are doing what everybody does. So Shatta’s response to this is: be unconventional! Break the rules! Challenge everything the people are used to seeing and hearing. Some will hate you but that hate will still fuel your fame and keep you on top of your game! It’s a formidable Shatta law and it works!!!
  1.  The Law of the Ghetto: Shatta is popular for the same PRINCIPLE that made Peace FM worked; he reaches out to the masses, the people on the street, the ghetto. If you a Harvard-schooled prim and proper person, Shatta will likely not be your man. Unfortunately, for you, people like you are in the minority. The majority are on the street. He identifies with hustlers; people who have no strategy to succeed and are counting on their street smarts and aggressiveness to push them to the top.

So there they are, the 7 laws of Shatta Wale. Now, let the controversy begin.

 

If you build a solid brand, even when you wear ‘FAKE’ it will be hot ‘CAKE’, because you have raving fans who will defend it to their death!” ¬ Bernard Kelvin Clive

James Ebo Whyte’s Fellowship

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I recently wrote an article about the symbolism of the mighty tree. The expression; a mighty tree has fallen is used often when a great person is deceased. This was the very essence of that article intended to honour the late Dr. Clement Hammond-Aryee who passed away recently. For reasons I now cannot recollect, I never managed to publish that article. I am now of the view that mighty trees must be recognized before they fall. This is not often the case as many of our standing mighty trees are not being recognized.  The great thing about might trees is that they are still extremely useful, serving countless purposes even when they have fallen. If you understand the word legacy, then you know what I mean.

I had an encounter with a standing might tree recently. Our search for high performing personalities led me to the Roverman production offices for a life-changing encounter with Mr. Ebo Whyte the playwright, entrepreneur extraordinaire and motivational speaker of a special class. One can always tell when he is in the presence of a mighty tree. The canopy of it’s leaves is a place of rest and comfort. You experience that phenomenon instantly when you are near uncle Ebo. Perhaps that is why he is called Uncle by everyone—he has the father to all kind of presence.

 

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The roots of a mighty  tree go deeper than most of its neighbors— Uncle Ebo is a trained statistician, self-taught chartered accountant and marketing professional, whose career in management cuts across the Publishing, Financial, Pharmaceutical and Automobile industries. His wealth of knowledge and depth of experience is of great benefit to anyone who encounters him. When the roots are deep enough, they find sources for abundant minerals which manifest in the quantity and quality of the fruits. If you have seen an uncle Ebo play then you have an idea of what I am talking about.

The branches provide a place for the nesting of all kinds of creatures. Mighty trees are not made overnight. Og Mandino puts it in an interesting way in the book; The world’s greatest sales man;

 “To create the Olive, king of all tress, a hundred years is required. An onion plant is old in nine weeks”,

Uncle Ebo is not an overnight mighty tree and his depth and wealth of experience is demonstrated even in the simplest conversations. The impact of a mighty tree on its environment is very far-reaching beyond its majestic presence and this can easily be said of Uncle Ebo. He writes award-winning plays, produces and stages them. He writes for the monthly Roverman report. He writes and presents his daily food for thought on Joy FM’s super morning show and runs the whole Roverman operation all to the highest standard.  He has helped in the team building efforts and rebranding processes for many companies and is known to have helped and mentored numerous people in all walks of life through his hard hitting, inspirational and realistic presentations. He has successfully written and directed over 20 plays which have become reference points in many lives. I will not even begin to attempt a measure of the impact of the very personality and work of Uncle Ebo as it is not possible.

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Energetic Alison is Afia

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There is no doubt that uncle Ebo and his Roverman team has changed the game as far as stage plays go. They have set the standards and they are not going back. While everyone agrees that Mr. James Ebo Whyte is a great writer and certainly on his way to the tittle: the greatest playwright in the history of Ghana, not much is known about the people who bring it all to life—the actors. My focus in this article is one of such unsung heroines who played a pivotal character in the ever popular and award winning play; Women on Fire.

I bumped into Alison on our visit to the Roverman offices in Osu here in Accra. I walked past her without noticing her—there were quite a few people around and she sat at a desk doing some paperwork. Nothing about her told me she could act at all let alone play such a pivotal character such as Afia (a very present and loud character who’s role appeared to hold the whole plot together). She was arguable the single most active ingredient in the whole Women on Fire mix. When I learnt she played the character, I was curious to find out what kind of a person she was and what qualified her for such a challenging role. Interesting thing came out:

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Alison is actually a trained and practicing architect from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. She is also married to an architect and have had no formal training in acting. She had however, acted in a few campus and Church productions: nothing too serious as she put it. She explained;

“this is something I love to do on the side. I am passionate about acting and would probably not have been able to choose if I had pursued a career in acting. In the meantime I go with the flow. If I get invited and the timing is right, why not”.

She is a natural. The mother of two boys and a girl is not too keen on movies she said but had played roles in one short film and a full feature film. Most of her acting has been in stage plays like Women on Fire. She has been acting from when she was a child so the stage is not a new place for her. I was curious to find out what kind of people she looks up to. On the Hollywood front Denzel Washington was top of her list but she said she loves RMD too. She also looks up to Uncle Ebo and Prophet and Mrs. Annor as role models in another sense. Her husband also inspires her with his encouragement borne out of his belief in her.

On the Afia character Alison told me;

“At the inception, there was a read through of the script. I read through while chewing on gum. I guess that’s where we started building the character. Some said Afia just happened. I had to think of a typical market woman, not too educated loud type who is in everybody’s business. She was not afraid of anyone. Some say Afia was crazy from day one”.

“I honestly do not know why I was offered the role but I love every opportunity I get to do what I love to do. So naturally I was excited. There is a bit of the character in my personality too. I felt like I was in charge in a way…playing that role. At home I am in charge as I literally run the house telling everyone what should be where”.

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The extremely energetic mother of three has also featured in Apartment N1, What’s My Name, Unforgiven and Puppeteers—all Roverman productions. She says she is open to all opportunities in the future and would ultimately like to feature in a Tyler Perry production. At home, she is a mom and a wife; naturally her goal is to raise her children the best way possible and see them grow into model citizens. She is not going to stop practicing architecture either and hopes to set up her own firm.

 

I have met some actresses in my eventful life. I may have even dated a couple. I am yet to meet anyone with Alison’s level of energy. I could barely keep up with her. That just left me wondering about her husband. But I dared not ask. We have been spending some time at the Roverman offices and we have a few stories to share with you besides our Alison discovery. We are out there looking for ordinary people like Alison doing ordinary things in extraordinary ways. If you know any such person, tell us where they are and what they do, we will make sure they are recognized. Nominate them now into the SPiD-UP® recognition program #Spidup

 

Uncle Ebo pens an unusual blockbuster

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I will tell you that uncle Ebo just crafted another blockbuster but you will think I am exaggerating again. After all, the whole world knows by now how I feel about Roverman products. I will however, attempt to discourage you from allowing that thought to get in the way of an unbiased critical analysis and sound judgement. In which case I am certain you will come to the same conclusion as I have.

First of all; no syllables, words, phrases or paragraphs can describe the experience enough. So before you read on, stop for a second and make a firm promise to yourself that you will go and see Dear God Comma—the latest play from the Roverman stables. What you will get is a potpourri comprising of vivid imagery of the age old thoughts on matters around atheism, theism and agnosticism. You might think this complex but those sentiments will disappear when you actually see the play.  Dear God Comma is a demonstration of sheer courage and bravery as it treads in waters that invoke nothing short of discomfort in today’s modernist/postmodernist atmosphere. It will take one who is firmly rooted not only in his craft, but also in his world-view and its attendant beliefs and values.

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When an angel shows up in the life of a family that has an unbeliever on one end and one who is not sure on the other, there is no telling what will happen. But if you throw in a couple of ampe-playing and somersaulting witches and set it all in an American city, you have a recipe for eternal intrigue—the mark of a masterpiece made possible only through high risk. Where everyone avoids risk, a masterpiece awaits to be born.

Ghana might be deemed a Christian country by some, but we are also conscious of the growing parcels of agnosticism/atheism within the population. Political correctness has also found a place making certain conversations on the universal platform of art a difficulty. We do not all believe the same things and we are all to be considerate of others and their beliefs.
So where did the author find the courage to pen such a controversial piece of art and how did he come by good enough a razor to shear it off its baggage of controversy? The answer came during the press conference after the performance. I attempt a paraphrase;

He has no problems with others and what they believe. He however, is clear about his experiences and what he believes. No one else could have written a play like this because only he has experienced all the things that have made writing a play like this possible. He not just a playwright, he is a Christian playwright.

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I stood there is sheer admiration and intrigue. What will he write next… I wondered? Suddenly it came to me; when Real Madrid is four goals up in a match, Christiano Ronaldo can do literally anything he wants with the ball and the crowd will cheer. This new found freedom will allow for the high risks that makes masterpieces like this a possibility.  Here endeth my thoughts as formulated at the premier of the latest uncle Ebo play: Dear God Comma. It is showing at the national theater from the 4th of June 2016 to the end of July.

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“HALF A SONG TO SING” at RODE REEL

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The issue of woman abuse is not just a community problem. Neither is it a country problem; it is a worldwide problem. Day in and day out, women are abused by men who by the unwritten rubrics of marriage are supposed to protect, love and encourage them. On KNUST campus one night in my hostel, there was an uproar which forced students out of their beds to find out what was going on. A gentleman who happened to be from another hostel had come to our hostel to beat up his girlfriend. Last year, the news of a taxi driver who stabbed his girlfriend to death shocked the country. A pregnant woman was also assaulted with an electric iron by her husband and was left to rot in a locked room after she had died. There are many more untold stories as many women continue suffer abuse in secrecy.

These women have been beaten by men who had once loved them. Some argue that perhaps women of today provoke such treatment from men because of their own behaviors. The modern woman is far from the submissive, near-timid woman prescribed by culture. But do two wrongs make a right? Is violence the best way out? In making the film; half a song to sing, our aim was to give voice to women who are victims of abusive relationships and propose a simple solution-Run!  Run from the situation ad seek help, run to seek counsel and shelter, run to save their very lives. No body deserves to be mistreated. The woman is the man’s reflection and as he is, so she is. She is an embodiment of his love. If she is treated well, she blossoms.

Half a song is poetry and a fine work of art in one. It is a short metaphorical story of a woman in an abusive relationship. The true status of her relationship is left to silence. In the end however she says: “he is my husband”. She is a representative of the many living with abusive men. Most women believe that men automatically become their husbands once they move in with them. This fallacy of a marriage can become an obstacle to wanting to break free. Many think it could be a “waste of time” trying to come out of such a relationship and hence, continue to suffer in silence.

Half a song to sing is a blend of poetry and moving pictures.  While a joyful challenge for the team, the idea is certainly not new to film making. Telling such an important story in only three minutes forced the team to think outside the proverbial box. We had to come up with a concept which will not only entertain but also inform and stimulate public interest. In the end we believe the film has become the voice of the many who suffer in silence.

 

We can all be a voice for the voiceless no matter the platform available to us, even if it is a short film. Vote for “Half a Song to Sing” (http://www.rode.com/myrodereel/watch/entry/2607)

Richard Bekyi Receives High Performance Recognition

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We have said time and time over that outstanding is not the same as normal—in fact they are opposites. This is actually a tautology of a sort. But often even those who think they understand end up confusing the idea. They have managed to convince themselves that different means getting out of line or perhaps start heading in the very opposite direction. You are different of course when you do that but different is not always useful. In a situation where everyone wants to live those commit suicide can also claim to be different. Those who rip off their clothes in public too are different of course but only because most of us want to keep our clothes on.

To address this conundrum we must first postulate a direction or perhaps a destination that will define progress for the larger society. When this is done, being outstanding will then mean you lead the pack in the set direction towards the destination. When you lead, you are different because the majority of people tend to hover around the middle bracket doing what it called normal, average or good enough. When they cook, you can eat it because it is ok. It has just about enough salt and pepper to give a fair taste. Those who are outstanding cook something that you can eat too, except you are left with a strong urge to indulge in infantile art of finger licking. It is just too damn good. Such persons are rare and we have found they are driven by a performance conscious mindset. Ripping off your clothes and heading in the regressive direction is the easy way out to different—way of the miscreant. Real performance takes more.

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Mr. Richard Bekyi, a recipient of the SPID-UP® Performance Recognition Awards is one of such personalities who give you that strong urge to lick your fingers. He does this through graphic designing and printing. Richard’s customers are not ordinary folks either. They have a consuming appetite for outstanding. If you are normal you will have a tough time understanding this man. As one customer told us;

“I thought this guy was weird… I was sure he did not understand what we wanted and he won’t even compromise. He is very stubborn about quality and you cannot persuade him to do simple things. In the end I realized I really did not understand where he was coming from. You really have to stop thinking and let him lead the way because he wants to take you to new level”

Mr. Bekyi and his team at Iseeworks Limited craft some life-transforming designs and they are not going to sit around and let some printer make a mess of it. He controls the process from start to finish making sure their customer get exactly what he promised them if not more. It is easy to confuse his work with something that was crafted a Hollywood design studio. But that is not all there is to this man and his team. Anyone who knows anything about the printing business will tell you that it’s major plague in not only quality of work. There is also a severe case of untimely delivery and Richard Bekyi seems to have developed an antidote for this blight.

For us at SPiD-UP® that is hope. We are capable as a people to produce high quality only if we decide to and one of our many examples is Mr. Richard Bekyi. We hope he is inspires you to be performance conscious enough to give your best. Regardless of what you do, you ought to activate the urge to indulge in the art of finger licking in your patrons. Mr. Beckyi will be speaking at the Upcoming SPiD-UP® workshop on performance where he will share some thoughts on the importance of performance. We look forward to seeing you there. #spidup

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