Reggie Rockstone was born in Britain and brought up in Ghana, later leaving to study in the United States. Ghanaians were a little scared to move away from highlife, says Rockstone. Its "big boy" performers, as he calls them, were afraid to lose their audiences. Many big name highlife entertainers, such as George Darko and A.B. Crentsil, saw hip-life as a threat that could undermine their style. But their image did not fit the new face of Ghanaian music.
"The youth were hungry for music they could identify with," Rockstone says. The Ghanaian rapper wears his hair in dreadlocks and dresses in baggy trousers and oversize T-shirts, à la "fly boy" culture adopted by many young blacks across the US, including their rap heroes.
Rockstone raps in Twi, others in Ewe, Hausa and even pidgin English. "It is hip and it's happening," says Rockstone, whose concerts draw huge crowds.
Hip-life is a purely Ghanaian creation that has caught on because it talks directly to the people, in languages everyone understands and with nuances and clever lyrics that make Ghanaians laugh. "And we can rap in English too," he smiles.
The artist, who is in his thirties, believes that young Ghanaians, who were listening to seductive American hip hop, felt alienated by traditional highlife music and wanted their own sound.
Excerpts from 'Rap around the clock'