Five Questions with Stonebwoy
At the start of his interview with The Gleaner, Stonebwoy said with pride that he “is an honorary Jamaican”, but truthfully, by the end of the interview, he proved that he is really a ‘yardie’.
The Bhim Nation president came across as gracious, answering questions in detail, making jokes, and unabashedly showing his enthusiasm for all things music. Stonebwoy, who speaks five African languages, is also fluent in English and has Jamaican Patois down to a science. But that shouldn’t be surprising to those who witnessed — whether live or via YouTube — his 2018 debut performance on the Reggae Sumfest stage when he clearly did not just his musical homework, but also his geography.
“All di ghetto yute dem whe a represent fi Flanker, mek mi see oonu han’ ... if yuh a represent fi Canterbury...Gully!” he shouted, name-checking some of the turfs in the parish of St James, where the festival was being staged. For 15 minutes, he sizzled on the Reggae Sumfest stage.
That same electrifying energy is expected on Saturday night when the Ghanaian Afro-pop, dancehall and reggae artiste performs for the first time on Rebel Salute, and he promises to deliver.
He speaks with respect about reggae and dancehall music, and shouts out that “the whole a we a one”. An artiste who continues to advocate for a platform to bridge the gap between Caribbean and African music, Stonebwoy, whose real name is Livingstone Satekla, has collaborated with the likes of Beenie Man, Sean Paul, Sizzla Kalonji, Jah Cure, Jahmiel, Vanessa Bling, Wayne Marshall, I-Octane, Khalia and Chi Ching Ching.
In May last year, it was announced with much fanfare that the multi-award-winning artiste had signed a global deal with Universal Music Group (UMG) label divisions Def Jam Recordings, 0207 Def Jam and Def Jam Africa. Def Jam Africa, which launched in 2020, now represents his music across Africa, while Def Jam Recordings is his label home in the US.
Music aside, Stonebwoy is a philanthropist with a registered charity named The Livingstone Foundation, which provides workshops across Ghana for the less fortunate and those with disabilities. Five Questions with caught up with him for a quick chat just before he left Ghana for Jamaica.
1. What can fans expect from Stonebwoy at Rebel Salute on Saturday?
Afrobeats, dancehall, reggae...all the genres. Come with an open heart, and when yuh see Stonebwoy hit the stage on Saturday, just let di lighter dem blaze!
2. Outside of music, who would you say has influenced you?
The messages of Marcus Garvey, Haile Selassie and Kwame Nkrumah, [Ghana’s first prime minister, political theorist, and revolutionary] have helped to shape my world view.
3. What is the mission of your music?
If you understand the calling, you will realise that it is more than an occupation. The impact of the music that you do should make you understand your responsibility ... understand that it is more than just having fun. It’s also not about ego because when there is ego, you can’t go. Every year I host the Bhim Concert. Last December was the sixth one. If it wasn’t for COVID, it would have been the seventh. This is the kind of thing that artistes do to make a difference...give others a platform to shine, just like Tony Rebel is doing with Rebel Salute.
4. You have a collab on Jah Cure’s soon-to-be-released VP Records album. How did that come about?
First of all, Everything is a beautiful song. I love it. Jah Cure is a high-note singer, and for that song, I really had to take it to the high as well. Cure is a legend in all aspect, and it was an honour to work with him. Di last time me deh a Jamaica, a me and Jah Cure did deh pon di road.. mi go a him house, but him neva get fi cook fi me ‘cause we neva have the time. Ever since I reach out to him on social media years ago, and him responded and seh, ‘Stonebwoy, we hear ‘bout yuh’, the friendship has grown. He is still my brother, and we still talk. It’s only good to be real. I can’t bother with the fake kind a artiste dem. When yuh a mi bredda, yu a mi bredda. Hopefully, very soon me and Cure will be able to meet and do the video for Everything.
5. Do you have any Jamaica plans after Rebel Salute?
If time permits, I would like to do some collabs...but we will see.
BRAWTA: Do you have any special requests that would add to your Jamaica experience?
[laughs] The Keys to the City would definitely be nice.