‘Reggae is truckload of messages going places’
Ras Opoku’s face lights up and his smile broadens anytime the conversation turns to reggae and that’s because he stands by the conviction that the world has never seen a more effective conveyor of positive messages through music than what reggae does.
The Germany-based Ghanaian singer, composer, songwriter and performer wants people to disabuse their minds that reggae is just a certain type of rhythm popularised by Jamaicans and rather embrace the fact that the music is a medium that has helped to unshackle and energise peoples’ minds over the years.
“Reggae is a truckload of messages going places. It is filled with love, equal rights and justice,” says Ras Opoku, who hails from Offinso in the Ashanti Region and has lived in Germany since 1992.“The people who invented and popularised the style are happy other countries have embraced it and put their own spin on it. The music is too powerful to be contained on one small island.”
He was lead singer for a band called Glashof Combo before teaming up with the Dread Fusion Band which included Ghanaian drummer Atta B. He was with them from 1995 to 2000. With a style of reggae that leaned a lot towards African elements, Dread Fusion recorded three albums and traveled widely across Europe. Places they played included Netherlands, Italy, France and Austria.
Ras Opoku has since led a few versions of his own band and has an album under his belt which includes songs like ‘Sika’ and ‘Atoro Adiyifo.’ He is in the studio recording new material, some of which are rendered in Twi and other Ghanaian languages.
“There are messages we want to bring out and we want to do that through vibrant reggae with a real Ghanaian feel. When we bring the message to our people in our local languages, it doesn’t matter whether they have formal education or not, it is easy for them to groove along to it. ”
To Ras Opoku, music with strong African identification has rebounded and is on a forward march again around the world. That makes him feel he has been on the right track all along with the Africa-influenced reggae he has been propagating since the mid-1990s.
He is hoping to release the new album he is working on now by mid-2024 in Ghana, followed by some live appearances in selected regional capitals. To him, it would be a great source of joy to perform for fellow Ghanaians after being away for more than three decades.