Grammy-nominated musician Stonebwoy has recently been enjoying massive attention due to the release of his new Anloga Junction album. However, even before its release, Stonebwoy’s popularity rose to international stardom after being the first artist of his kind to win a BET Award in 2015, and the rest is history. With that said, we went on a call with the afro-dancehall don to have what we now consider one of the most spiritual interviews HYPE has ever had – but check it out for yourselves.
First of all, we all know that COVID-19 has affected the whole world, but from a musician’s perspective, how would you say this pandemic has affected you creatively and mentally?
Mentally it has been strengthening me, in respect of what has been going on in the world, the crisis, and all of that. I think it’s supposed to be that thing we are all affected by as people of the Earth because these things don’t just happen anyhow, and for such things to happen just shows you that a lot of us don’t know what the true ‘cause’ of this thing is. On top of that, a lot of people are trying to find out what causes this ‘thing’. We will be able to investigate where the smoke is coming from, because there is no smoke without fire. That way we could be close to quenching the smoke, you know what I mean? But for now, we don’t know where this virus is coming from, because some people say it comes from animals or 5G network towers or whatever… The fact remains that the virus is here, and it has rippled, affecting innocent lives.
Also, I feel like this pandemic is giving the Earth some time to ‘breathe’, you know? Because there are so many human activities that have been halted, from industrial to other forms of human activities. This pandemic is also teaching me what I have always realised, that in every situation ‘somebody wins and somebody loses’, you know? No matter how the situation is… And at this junction I’m giving thanks that I’m still healthy and that I have not contracted the disease yet. Also, thank God that He has protected us, you know? And we are doing our best to stay safe.
Damn yeah. And how have you been keeping yourself busy during these uncertain times musically?
Well before the coronavirus hit, my team and I were planning on releasing an album. We were actually working on it and putting things together, so it has become that all focus has been shifted towards the album. The response has been great and massive you know? So that is what I have been doing – creating a lot of videos about the ‘COVID’. Also, I’ve been joining a lot of initiatives from a lot of reputable institutions. And I’ve been continuing to spread my voice as a huge African artist to the whole COVID call. I’ve also been making sure to keep my fans entertained, as we need things to refresh our minds amid this pandemic.
My album plan and rollout has given me a lot to do, giving me enough at hand to deal with. In fact, I’m actually not feeling that I’m idle and quarantining. This has given me time to do something else apart from traveling and so forth. Been doing other things, recording music, and promoting the album. It also gave me more time to spend with my family. Overall, the work does not stop.
What can you tell us about Stonebwoy and his story of where his journey started?
Thank you for this question, but before I answer, I would like to say that not everybody knows God. So, I can’t be too popular to reintroduce myself, and I know that by the end of this interview I would have at least added one more person onto my current fanbase.
I would like to reintroduce myself. I go by the name Livingstone aka Stonebwoy. I’m a ghetto kid born and raised in the suburbs of Accra, and that’s the city I represent to the fullest to this day. It’s one of the biggest slump cities and every walk of life lives in my city, from the richest to the poorest, you know? Therefore, the influences of my music are from Accra, because when you go to Soweto and all those other places, you’ll find that music is a way of life for them and it inspires them to keep going. And most importantly, music in these respective places gives a voice to the voiceless.
Going back to my journey – I realised that I had a musical talent at the age of 10, and when I was 11, I formed a group, and I’ve never stopped making music ever since till today. Everything I did in my life back then had my music plans alongside it. And that’s the story Stonebwoy has from Ghana to the world. Music is my way of reaching out and communicating with the world.
Now everyone in South Africa is recently and very well aware of your single ‘Bow Down’ with Nasty C. How did that song come about?
Firstly, I would like to say that Nasty C is a great artist. I’ve done several collaborations in the South African space, with the likes of AKA, Cassper Nyovest and Kwesta so far, and now Nasty C. The song came about when Nasty C visited Ghana this one time, and both of us have been fans of each other for some time. So, we met up at my house in my home studio and cooked up the song right from scratch and created a beautiful song. And kept it until the time was right to release it because timing is the master and God is time. So that’s how the song got to fit in on my latest project because I just knew that this is the song I want on my project.
We have recognised your Anloga Junction album and we believe the themes of the album are about connecting Africa through music, which will eventually connect Africa to the rest of the world. Would you say that message alone is what influences your music production? If so, why is it so important to you?
Yes, that message alone is what influenced this ‘masterpiece’ of mine. I need everyone to realise that the music of Africa has traveled so far, and it has gotten us to this point, where we have had a lot of impact on the world. Last year already there were a lot of homecomings to Ghana because a lot of celebrities wanted to come to Ghana. This has never happened before, so this tells you about the works that our ancestors have put in; and the works we have been taxed with to continue to do has gotten to a point where we have recorded an increase.
From Stonebwoy just making music to getting nominated for the Grammys, how would you explain the feeling you had when you got nominated to the fans who are looking at you and perhaps are trying to accomplish what you have for yourself?
It’s crazy, but I wouldn’t be the first one to accomplish ‘heights’. And wouldn’t be the first one where God has listened to their prayers, you know? And before I answer your question, I would like to give thanks and glory to the ‘Most High’ for helping everybody achieve their dreams.
That nomination brought a lot of happiness to my people because I remember I made my mother very happy when I won an award at the BET Awards. And when I called her, she was in the village that I titled my album Anloga after, and that village is a tribe that represents a group of people. So, I am from the ‘Anloga’ tribe, like someone who would represent being Zulu comes from a Zulu tribe, just for example.
Africans just believed in the style of music I was promoting, because I put it up to myself ever since I started making music. I wanted to go on a mission, and I had to figure out what that mission was. Because I am heavily influenced by reggae and dancehall music, which is an offspring of Africans from the African soil. Which means that the roots of it are embedded in Africa.
That then led me to try and combine dancehall beat, reggae, and afro-beats all together. To create a different sound, which I believe is what God has put in my heart and the future. Like what Bob Marley said, “Africa should just sing one song.”
Not only are you a Grammy nominee, but you have also worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry globally, such as Séan Paul, Trey Songz, and Keri Hilson. What does it take to get recognised by those big names? What got you to that level?
It’s my hard work. I have to say that is what got me to reach that level in my music career. Hard work is divine. I need you to understand that mankind is made up of two things, and those two things are ‘spirit and flesh’ carnality… These two things have to work together to make it work, so in the other part of it, there’s a controller, a God, a ruler of the universe, and a King of Kings. I need people to understand that you can’t be what you don’t have to be, you can only be what you are blessed to be. So you have to tap into the divine, and I’m grateful that I applied hard work, focus and determination. But the interesting thing is that before you have focus or determination, you need to have a vision and see where you want to go in your life. And that dream and vision that you see are not physical but it is embedded in the conscious of the mind. Above all that, this simply tells us that everything comes from ‘above’. So, if you ever want to make it in life, get connected to the ‘Maker’; He who has it all; He who has created all of mankind. He will give you the vision and the foresight to see everything through.
Stonebwoy, what would you say is the next chapter of your journey? What can people expect from you soon?
Grateful for that question, but the rest of the world can only expect greatness. They can expect that I will continue to push the African agenda, the musical agenda, and that’s my ultimate goal.
Is there anything you would like to share with people, to know about, that is not public yet?
Big ups to South Africa! I keep saying, after the lockdown, the country can expect a visit from me. South Africa is going to be the first country I visit, shoot a video, and spend like a week in a great country.
And I will continue to put in the work. I would like people to follow me on Instagram, @Stonebwoyb, and subscribe to my YouTube channel, ‘Stonebwoy’, to get the latest information. Also make sure that you go and download the Anloga Junction album.