Multiple award-winning highlife musician Kumi Guitar has broken his silence on Shatta Wale’s major international breakthrough and rift with his former manager Nana Poku Ashis.
The “Betweener” singer has finally added his voice to the ongoing debate on Shatta Wale’s appearance on Beyoncé’s latest album “The Lion King: The Gift”. Shatta Wale got his verse on “Already” off the second soundtrack album by the multiple Grammy winner. Since its release, the mid-tempo afrobeats song has faced a lot of criticisms from Ghanaians; some positive, others negative. The song has been ranked and compared to other African collaborations on the album – with the majority of thumb ups going for Wizkid’s song “Brown Skin Girl”.
But Kumi Guitar contests that the comparisons are unfair and will not project the industry and our music exports. He told David Mawuli of Pulse.com.gh on Sunday, July 21, 2019, that Shatta Wale made the major moves as a result of highlife. He said the 2019 VGMA “Highlife Song of the Year” award received by Shatta Wale played a major role in his recent deal with Beyoncé, adding that he deserves applauds for the feat.
“Shatta Wale needs to be applauded for his collaboration with Beyoncé,” he stated. “He deserves a big round of applauds.”
“And have you realised that he was able to achieve this feat after winning the ‘Highlife Song of the Year’ at 2019 VGMA? Highlife is our music – therefore whoever associates themselves with it becomes successful. His collaboration with Beyoncé was influenced by highlife. He is influential and entertaining and has done a lot of dancehall music, but highlife pushed him a step further.”
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Speaking on the negative reviews and comparisons, he said Wizkid and Shatta Wale are in different fields, making their comparisons void. For Kumi Guitar, Beyonce made the choices to suit different purposes on The Lion King-inspired project.
“Don’t compare Shatta Wale’s verse to Wizkid. We can’t progress as an industry with this kind of attitude. They are two different talents. Shatta Wale isn’t afro singer like Wizkid so Beyoncé cannot do the same type of music with the two. Obviously, she [Beyoncé] worked with them according to their strengths. She needed different flavours for the album. We should stop the comparisons and support our own.”
“Let’s support our artistes because there are only a few competing on the international market. We can’t compare ourselves to Nigerians because their numbers are huge. We should support and pray for our artistes like Akwaboah, Kuami Eugene, KiDi, King Promise, Dada Hafco and myself to work with other top artistes. Talking of dancehall, Wizkid cannot even compare himself to Epixode. Imagine Epixode recording a song with JAY-Z, can you say it wouldn’t be nice? Let choose our artistes above others. Foreign artistes are not better than us.”
He stressed that Beyoncé switched her style on her album to fit the afrobeats vibes. Kumi said Beyoncé even sounded like Ghana’s Becca on the album just to befit the theme.
“When you listen to Beyoncé on “Already” featuring Shatta Wale, you would realise that she sounded like Becca. She sang in an African tone. She just wanted to sound like an African in order to suit the theme of the album. Her American style wouldn’t have suited the album.”
He called on Ghanaians to support our international touring artistes otherwise it would be difficult to rise to the top.
“Getting there will be difficult because Ghanaians don’t support their own. Imagine Wiyaala’s countless international tours, but no one wants to talk about it. King Ayisoba, Pat Thomas, Gyedu Blay Ambolley, and others are raising the flag of Ghana on the international front, but no one is talking about it.”
He stated that Ghanaian artiste managers work with emotions and that even if you give them enough money, they won’t help the artistes rise to the top.
“Ghanaian artiste managers work with emotions. I have many good songs, but they are not flying because of bad management. Good management isn’t about money. Zylofon Music invested a lot but what result did my management achieve? So, it’s not about money – it’s the passion and love for the artiste which will push the brand. There are so many artiste managers who are doing great with a little resource as compared to Zylofon artiste managers.”
“They [artiste managers] should ignore the attitudes of artistes and work with love. I’ve seen an artiste who slept with his manager’s girlfriend. His manager found out later but continued to work with the artiste. And now they are doing great. Every talent comes with an attitude. But the manager must put things under control and work to achieve success with the artiste. Artistes are like fathers or mothers – you can’t kill your children’s career because of their attitude. Where will Stonebwoy be without Black Cedi; where will Sarkodie be without Angel Town; where will Shatta Wale be with Julio or Bulldog? So many artistes are not fortunate. That’s why we have only a few faces on concerts.”
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Talking of his relationship with his former manager Ashis, he said they are ‘not cool’ anymore and will not work together anymore. He said Ashis had industry connections but didn’t have any passion for the job. The “Break into Two” hitmaker said despite the heavy investment Zylofon Music made, Ashis couldn’t achieve any result.
His statement comes after Ashis threatened to release some voice notes that would damage his career. Kumi is certain that Ashis didn’t have any love for him and that he describes him as ‘fat’ whenever he is discussing him with his gossip mates.
“My manager, Nana Poku Ashis, and I have stopped working together. If someone truly loves you, they will forgive you when you offend them. We are now building our brand and the fanbase but here we are. He has the connections to help me blow but refused to do it. If you compare my songs, ‘Temperature’ and ‘Betweener’, they are the same but there was no love anymore to push the former.”
“When he meets me in town, he should never pretend to love me. He should just greet and go. He will not be blessed if he portrays that he loves me in public. I loved him but he didn’t return the same love.”
“He describes me as “obolo” (literally means ‘fat’ in Twi) when chatting with people. Some good individual showed me this. I dare him to release any tape that he claims would destroy my career. I had the audio for a long time. He will never work with me again even if he is offered billions. He doesn’t love me.”
Kumi Guitar is currently out with “Boniay3fuo” – a song dedicated to his label founder and the embattled CEO of MenzGold Ghana Limited, Nana Appiah Mensah. He hints of dropping the official music video for his collaboration with Shatta Wale this year.