They took the Ghanaian music industry by storm with their hit songs, 'Yawa Girl' and 'I Dey Mad' and they plan to take on the rest of Africa with their fresh finger snapping, foot stumping, head bumping and heart thumping urban music. R2Bees is an urban hip-hop/hiplife collective fronted by cousins Faisal Hakeem (Paedae da Pralem) and Rashid Mugeez (Mugeez).
The group started off as Camp Yard some 10 years ago, when a group of likeminded schoolmates with a common interest in the hip-hop movement of the 90s decided to test their skills against each other and ended up creating some original materials of their own.
They have been on the underground since and today, they rule Ghana's hip-hop scene with two singles off their forthcoming debut album, 'Da Revolution'. R2Bees comes from their mantra which is 'Refuse to be broke'.
So what is this revolution that R2bees promises, who is this yawa girl they sing about, and how do they plan on taking their music throughout Africa? These are a few of the questions they answered in this interview.
How do you describe your music?
We do urban music, nothing else. The influence comes from anything that happens around us, we don't really direct it. We do dancehall, hip-hop and a little bit of hiplife. We are not really doing the too local hiplife but again we haven't thrown our identity away. We have songs in Twi but they have an international feel. Hip-hop is a black culture thing and it's not for Americans but in Ghana when we rap in English people say that we are trying to steal someone's culture. We represent the hip-hop culture. It is sickening to see Nigerian artists move crowds in Accra and you ask yourself do our so-called hiplife artists get the same response when they go to Nigeria, Gabon or Kenya, South Africa.
What is the underlying problem?
First it has to do with the industry and that's the reason why R2bees is here. We are trying to upgrade a downgraded industry. We are now in the mainstream and we have had the chance to identify some of the problems in the industry. The industry needs overhauling; it's no industry at all. That is why people are out with their 5th, 6th and 7th album and they are still broke as hell while people in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa are living the life with their debut album.
So what makes your album 'Da Revolution' different?
It explains itself, the revolution. It's a new era, love it or hate it, it's a new day. We are still toying around our album. When you listen to songs on the album, you get to realise that this is reality rap, and not some wannabe or fictional stuff. You get to feel some of the things we've been through in life. Also, we are privileged to have our own label and so we are able to do what we want to do. Most of the time, the artists here don't get the chance to do what they want to do because they are under some label and they are limited by what the CEO wants them to do. We get the chance to do what we want to do so e did songs that we really love and we think the public loves it as well. Looking at the way our songs are doing well in Nigeria, we are looking at launching it across Africa and not just Ghana.
What inspired your hit song 'Yawa Girl'?
People again are getting that lyric wrong. I got ex-girls and their aunties calling me to say they know I was talking about them but its music. Like Jay Z said, “this aint beef this is rap hommie, I aint even got a scratch on me”. Rap itself is more of a battle; sometimes you battle yourself and sometimes you battle the public without necessarily pointing at somebody. From the bottom of my heart I had nobody in mind when writing that song, nothing personal just music.
What is the general direction of the album?
The direction is reality. We are underprivileged people from the ghettoes of Tema Community 1 Site 15, a place where only the strong survive and we never had role models. But right now, back in our hood everybody in our generation wants to be like us.
Do you have any collaborations on the album?
We have a song with Samini and we will shoot the video very soon. We are really toying with the song title; we are contemplating on calling it 'Run the City', 'Ehye Wo Bu' or 'Clash of the Titans' because all parties killed it on the song. We are also doing remixes of 'I dey Mad'. We want to have the bashment remix featuring DJ Black and Sarkodie. And on the main remix, we want to have 9ice and Kwaw Kesse on it.
What has been the general response from the public about your music?
It's been wicked! We have been around in the industry inactive for a long time hustling, and music was like the last option. But for a song like 'Yawa Girl' to be the number one ringtone in Ghana for so long, we are privileged to have the reception we are getting now. Sometimes I wonder, 'Is this what music is all about?' We just did this and it is making so much noise. I promise you that you can't skip a track on our 17-track album, its all massive tracks.
What's next from R2bees?
Pure fire! More fire! We want to be continental and then global. DJ Black took 'I dey Mad' to Channel O and played it on Oboma and the response has been great. And in Nigeria, it is killing it.
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