It’s been such an eventful week with all the talk concentrated on one man, Shatta Wale and his collaboration with international music superstar, Beyoncé.
First came the announcement of some alliance between the two artistes, then came the scepticism by majority of music followers, then the confirmation and then reality hit everybody that Shatta Wale is indeed on a record with Beyoncé. Holy Moly!
I’m not sure even the hardest core of Shatta Wale’s followers would have envisaged such a collaboration with a humongous star like Beyoncé. As he admitted in his interviews after the news dropped, even he did not dream of a partnership with the superstar.
As fate would have it, we have on our hands, a career-defining, culture-shifting, and momentous occasion and we are revelling in it.
The ‘local champion’ tag
Indisputably, since bouncing back into mainstream music in 2013, Shatta Wale has become the biggest and most influential Ghanaian artiste, having the biggest records, garnering the biggest following and becoming arguably, the most bankable artiste in the process.
However, while he dominated the local scene, his peers made some impressive runs on the international music market; winning at recognised international awards, connecting with international businesses and scoring critical collaborations.
Music is a global business and it is the reason having appeal internationally is important to brand building and career progression.
It is not as though Shatta Wale did not make some efforts in getting that international exposure. He did but as hard as he tried, he was still ridiculed as a ‘local champion’ for not matching up to the likes of Samini, Sarkodie, Wiyaala, Fuse ODG and Stonebwoy.
The tag became so resounding that Shatta Wale had to accept, defend and project it as a good attribute but he lied! Deep down, he knew he had to break that tag to become unanimously accepted by all.
Beyoncé is arguably the most popular artiste in the world after Michael Jackson, and for a female act in a male-dominated field, that’s quite a feat.
She is one of the best-selling musicians of all time, yes, of all time, having sold over 100 million records worldwide. She is also one of the most decorated artistes in the world, having won several awards in every highly recognised scheme in the world.
Her proficiency as an entertainer is limitless; a singer, songwriter, performer, producer and an actress – making her one of the most influential personalities in the world. In fact, she has been listed in TIME Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential Persons in the World’ more than once.
Her legacy is unmatched and her business acumen is heralded as astonishingly groundbreaking. Forbes actually rates her as the most powerful female artiste to ever walk the face of the earth, several times.
Music critic Jody Rosen of The New Yorker Magazine described Beyoncé as “the most important and compelling popular musician of the twenty-first century … the result, the logical endpoint, of a century-plus of pop.”
Revered Australian showbiz gem, Baz Luhrmann wrote; “No one has that voice, no one moves the way she moves, no one can hold an audience the way she does … When Beyoncé does an album, when Beyoncé sings a song, when Beyoncé does anything, it’s an event, and it’s broadly influential. Right now, she is the heir-apparent diva of the USA – the reigning national voice.”
For their first match of March 2019, the players of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT), each wore a jersey with the name of a woman they were honouring on the back; some chose Beyoncé!
Since the announcement of the collaboration and the eventual release of the song, some have been hailing Shatta Wale and Beyoncé’s entire project but others are trying everything they can to discredit the effort.
It is understandable for some to find ways to dishonour Shatta Wale for such a feat, considering the fact that he has not, over the years, been magnanimous in appreciating his fellow artistes who impressed internationally.
However, for the likes of Fuse ODG who have been saying Beyoncé needs the collaboration more than Shatta Wale, in order to gain validation in Africa, such talk is just plain nonsense.
Beyoncé needs an endorsement from Africa to prove what? Are you guys thinking straight?
How on earth would any knowledgeable person insinuate that the most popular artiste in the world, is collaborating with Shatta Wale and other African stars, using African sound to garner acceptance in Africa?
How little-minded could one be, in saying that Beyoncé, one of the richest female musicians in the world, needs this project more than the likes of Shatta Wale?
No more ‘local champion’
Legendary Highlife musician, Rex Omar, put it right by stating that Shatta Wale, after Osibisa, has made the biggest international statement ever. I slightly disagree on the Osibisa reference, considering the fact that the band’s origination was never attributed to Africa, but the United Kingdom.
This joint does not only strip Shatta Wale of the ‘local champion’ tag, it also elevates him as that Ghanaian artiste to notch the biggest international connection ever.
This Beyoncé linkage is changing Shatta Wale’s life; aside the most important element of money, the critical international mentions, the exposure of his brand and music to the bigger international audience and the propagation of Ghanaian music via this relationship, are too huge.
Days after the release of the song, it is evident how the international media is paying attention to Shatta Wale, Ghana and the African sound.
Does this make Shatta Wale the Ghanaian artiste with the highest international appeal? Well, not quite. Giving him such a plaudit this early would be disrespectful to the likes of Samini, Sarkodie, Stonebwoy, Wiyaala and Fuse ODG. These guys, in this generation, have paved the way in making our craft look appealing to the international market.
However, in commending their efforts at putting their brands on the international market, it must be noted, without any form of malice that, no collaboration is as big as that with Beyoncé; not Ed Sheeran, not Sean Paul, Beenie Man and certainly not Ace Hood.