After the release of his critically acclaimed 5th studio album “5th Dimension”, Ghanaian Reggae Dancehall artiste Stonebwoy joins our Music Editor and Senior Writer, Fola and Edwin for an intimate and exclusive conversation. Having recently entered the Billboard Reggae Album chart at no.8, it was about time we sat down with The King of Afro-Dancehall to talk about the album that has taken the world by storm. Stonebwoy opens up about the journey of making his new album, his spirituality, family and dreams.
Your music has been a source of joy and optimism for so many for so long. What was your inspiration going into the studio to record 5th Dimension?
Stonebwoy: The motive was to get to the next level of my career, I’ve been creating music for 14 years now, started young, there has been a lot of growth, and that’s what 5th Dimension entails, proof of the journey so far for me. When you listen to the album, you can tell it’s a continuation of what I started. I’m grateful for the kind of acceptance it has received. It is supposed to have everything, and it sounds timeless too; it has shades of the past, present and is futuristic. To the world, it feels like it’s my first album, yet it’s my 5th album and personally, number 5 means a lot to me. The album centres around earth’s elements; life, love, politics, money, and a bit of everything that balances the 5th Dimension. I made it with the mindset that 5th Dimension should cover all tracks, a universal album, no discrimination, one for all genres, for everyone.
There’s so much on this album that feels different and outside of what you’d expect to hear on a Stonebwoy album- where did songs like “Apotheke” come from?
Stonebwoy: Like I mentioned earlier, the album covers a vast part of African music’s roots. “Apotheke” is a word that sounds funny to me, but in German it means “Pharmacy”. It was just one of those natural moments, the hook was just me having fun with the word and it evolved into that, with rhythmic words that stem all the way down to some of the approach towards African music.
This album is blessed with so many legendary moments, the Angelique Kidjo feature in particular, how did that record come about?
Stonebwoy: You know, that Angelique Kidjo record is almost 5 years old, it was recorded with the intent of being on my last album which was three years ago. That’s how timeless my records are, I have songs that I trust my instincts with, in terms of the time frame and all, waiting for the right time, right feature. If it were just me on that record, I think it still would’ve been an amazing song, but with African Mama, she brings the originality from her home sounds, adding up to a diverse song. Two different languages from different paths of the continent. My part (in Ewe) translates to “I’m gonna keep on gradually”, then she comes in and says “what is yours is yours, nobody can take your destiny, when you’ve worked hard for it”. Then I broke things down in English with the second verse, about energy helping you to move forward in life. The trumpet, you’ll feel a lot of African spirit, our language carries a lot of spirit, you can just tell what it is, that’s why she loved the song, because it connects directly to her roots, we are all connected by an African spirit.
5th Dimension doesn’t feel like just a body of work, it feels like a journey too. On a personal level, what have you learned on this journey? Is there anything you didn’t know about yourself but ended up discovering after creating 5th Dimension?
Stonebwoy: We keep discovering ourselves everyday, sometimes it takes a long time for you to accept a certain aspect of what is happening in your daily life, for you to even go like “yeah I have to manage this now”. You go through many phases in life but there’s a core foundation that you can’t miss which are the basic stuff life thrives on. I’m putting all that in my music, growing sonically, studying and experimenting, but I stay loyal to my theme, what I believe; conscious music. I’m tailoring it to fit music that I’ll be proud to put out, music with no regrets that will stand the test of time, that’s one thing I’ve learnt, how to make timeless and authentic music. And technically, this is the best quality standard coming out of Ghana currently. Take the new version of “Therapy”, it’s probably only Oxlade that can give you something like that, but this is someone coming from the Dancehall Reggae world, I want to tell the world that Stonebwoy is a different person when it comes to music.
Not to brag or boast, but because my passion and mission is to actually represent the African sound, both born in Africa and the diaspora. I’ve always been favoured to do it because that’s where my mind is, these are the things I think about and my talent is broad enough to allow me to fetch these inspirations. If you know better, you do better, if you know more you do more, it’s evident on the album- it has a little bit of everything, every aspect of me is on the album, and more is coming, we are about to float now. I’ve never feared to lead a path, mixing Afro and Dancehall. When you carry so much, you can only move at a certain speed, but you can never go back, and you make an impact.
My mum used to tell me, empty cars that don’t carry stuff always move faster, but the ones with goods, they tread carefully, they deliver, they mash up the road, that’s how I consider what I embody.
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