The stately Mövenpick Hotel in Accra last night was the hottest place to be in Ghana as the two titans of Ghanaian dancehall performed in the début Asaase Sound Clash.
The most talked-about Ghanaian reggae event of the past decade, dubbed the Clash2CrushCOVID, was kick-started on 4 August with a launch at the Asaase Radio studios in Cantonments, Accra. And last night the Asaase Sound Clash 2020 accomplished its mission, uniting the two most celebrated reggae/dancehall artistes in Ghana today – Stonebwoy and Shatta Wale – in a night of fun, but also for the good of the nation.
The two dancehall kings delivered, waging verbal war on each other in a thrilling battle for the title “King of Dancehall”, and spreading the word to remind young Ghanaians about how to protect themselves against COVID-19.
A sparkling global first
It was a sparkling spectacle that both entertained and shone a light on a possible future for Ghanaian nightlife. The plush interior of the Mövenpick was laid out invitingly to offer an evening of entertainment, hospitality, sparks and comfort to every guest.
The forecourt roared with the sounds of revving motorbikes and trikes, shown off by followers of both Bhim Nation and the Shatta Movement. There was also the gleam of sleek cars, silently carrying top-notch personalities to the VVIP seats in front of the sound clash stage.
This was a first: the first major dancehall clash anywhere in Africa and the first known to have been streamed virtually anywhere in the world. The audience of roughly 250 at the venue were joined by an estimated audience of over 500,000 on Asaase Radio’s social media platforms.
The night began with a moment of poetry from Nana Asaase, who reminded guests of the voices of the ancestors. Co-host for the night Seani B then showed why he is one of the most highly prized DJs on the world reggae/dancehall circuit, playing a set of smoothly mixed, classic roots tunes.
But the reflective mood did not last long. Guests were blown away by an energetic opening set from the ever-sharp Mz Vee, who thrilled the audience with a medley of covers, sharing hits by Stonebwoy and Shatta and her own chart-topping tunes, finishing with her latest – “Baby” (produced by Kizzy Beat).
Next up was the undercard, with a battle between this year’s VGMA Reggae Dancehall Artist of the Year, Ras Kuuku, honoured just two weeks ago, and the emerging star Kamelyeon.
It was an evenly matched tussle of lyrical and musical skills.
Who’s the daddy?
And then, at last, came the meaty main course: the ever-evolving beef between the “God Made from Stone” and the “Don Who Shatters”. First to arrive at the venue, at the head of a roaring posse of SM4LYFers, was 1DON, the Wonder Boy, Shatta Wale. Security officers’ nerves were rattled as, surrounded by up to 20 supporters wearing custard-yellow hoodies, Shatta stormed the venue and took up position stage left.
There was no sign of Stonebwoy. Would 1DON feel disrespected? The clock ticked and tension rose. But Shatta was letting nothing phase him. He had come prepared – one follower was bearing a platter of fine finger food. Like magic, a chair was found and Shatta settled down to dinner on stage, unruffled.
After roughly ten minutes, a distant rumble heralded the arrival of Stonebwoy and his gang in a huddle of bikes. But the effect was unlike with Shatta: the Anloga Junction man had just five followers in his posse, dressed for the street and bearing BHIM flags. Sounding hyped up and on edge, 1GAD threw down his opening challenge from stage right … and ran straight into a blizzard of arrows from the Shatta camp.
The verbal jousting which followed saw both artists at the top of their game and dealing shocking blows to each other. Seani B had set the rules: opening instrumentals followed by lyrical bursts of no more than a minute at each turn, spanning 40 tracks by each artist, spread over four rounds. There had been the toss of a coin and Shatta Wale was to go first.
The call and response flew back and forth between the camps. Both artists tested Seani B’s skill as a referee of dancehall clashes to the limit – but, predictably, Shatta Wale posed the bigger challenge.
More than once, the co-host Seani B had to ask some of the SM4LYFers to leave the stage. After Shatta and his posse flung cedis at the Bhim Nation crew, co-MC Root Eye was forced to call the ushers to clean the carpet and promise that the money would go to charity.
And it wasn’t just lyrical bravado and cash being flung about: there were heavy insults, too, aiming for deepest bruising effect.
At the end of the night, there was no definitive announcement from the promoters about who had won the sound clash. But one camp refused to stay to hear the result declared.
There were mixed reactions from fans, each side claiming that its man had won the clash. But once Shatta delivered his last number, as Stonebwoy launched into his current scat hit, “Putuu”, the SM President stormed off the stage.
The word from 1GAD fans is that the SM4LYFers knew they had lost the clash and so they didn’t want to hang around to hear the result. It’s only the latest cliffhanger in a war that should have been settled last night, but promises to run and run …
* The maiden Asaase Sound Clash took place at the Mövenpick Hotel, Accra, on Saturday 12 September.
* Who do you think won last night’s Asaase Sound Clash? WhatsApp us on 020 000 0995 to tell us, and why.
* The winner of our star prize in the Asaase Sound Clash phone-in competition will be announced tomorrow, Monday 14 September 2020.