GH has lost Highlife to Naija — Jay Q

By: Gifty Owusu-Amoah
Ghana has lost Highlife to Nigeria says Jay Q
Jay Q

CELEBRATED sound engineer, Jay Q, has asked Ghanaians to bow their heads in shame for making it easy for Nigeria to take Highlife music away from us.

According to Jay Q, even though Ghana is credited as the originator of Highlife music, Nigerians had been better at exploiting and promoting the genre internationally.

“We need to brace ourselves for the future when Nigerians will be credited for coming up with Highlife music, because for now they are ahead of us in terms of production and promotion, while we continue to project foreign music,” he stated.

Jay Q, who is also a producer, said an observation of the Ghanaian music industry over the years had shown that Ghanaians did not take pride in Highlife music because it was seen as old fashioned.

He told Showbiz that people saw Highlife as ‘kolo’(old fashioned) and that that was confirmed recently when Shatta Wale was trolled on social media for winning the Highlife Song of The Year for My Level at the 2019 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA).  

“Sincerely, it was worrying when Shatta Wale was teased for picking a Highlife award because people thought it was beneath him as an A-list artiste. I was really hurt that people thought Highlife was inferior to other genres such as Hip Hop and Dancehall.

“It was interesting to read some of the comments which suggested Shatta Wale’s brand had been tarnished because of the Highlife award. I was not surprised because, as a people, we appreciate foreign things more than our own.

“Let’s make Highlife equally attractive and relevant like the other genres, if not bigger, because that is what has glued together the different types of music from our various ethnic groups from time immemorial,” he said.

From the studios of Q-lex Recording Studios, Jay Q, real name Jeff Tennyson Quaye, produced hit songs including Buk Bak’s Kakatsofa and Castro’s Sradinam, which are still favourites among music lovers.

Even though he is currently based in the US and has not been active on the music scene, Jay Q expressed his desire to see Ghanaian music make more inroads internationally.

“Davido’s music is played at prime time, topping charts and competing with other prominent American artistes through Highlife and Afrobeats. He is giving them something that they find different and refreshing.

“But here we are in Ghana, with our artistes working so hard to sound like Jay Z or Vybez Cartel. Can you do better Hip Hop than Americans or better Dancehall than Jamaicans? It never works like that and that is what the Nigerians have noticed and are projecting their own, including Highlife. It is very unfortunate for Ghana,” he said.

Jay Q said his criticism was not to discourage young artistes who were doing other genres of music but a call for industry players to find solutions.

“People will say Davido is an Afrobeats artiste, but we know he started with Highlife and still composes Highlife songs. It is this same genre that we disregard that has earned him billboards in America. Ghanaian musicians need to step up their Highlife game because we are losing it,” he stated.

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