Ace Highlife musician Rex Omar, best remembered for hit song, Abiba said Shatta Wale should be called a Highlife artiste rather than a Dancehall musician. He said songs the self-styled Dancehall musician produce has element of Highlife in them, hence that makes him a Highlife musician.
In an interview with JOY FM, Rex Omar said, “I have listened to three or four Shatta Wale songs, beautiful songs, big hits, every aspect of the song to me, is his own creation of a new brand of Highlife but he prefers to call it dancehall. He is using different instruments to play some of the elements of highlife.”
He cited the beats/rhythm of Shatta Wale’s ‘Baby (Chop Kiss)’ “as typical highlife. It has nothing to do with dancehall but he prefers to call it dancehall because he looks up to them.”
The veteran musician, who has over the years campaign for the sustainability of the Highlife genre, said he doesn’t understand why Ghanaians do want to be identified with their own but look up to things coming from other countries.
“Jamaica, small country like Kumasi, they believed in themselves, they’ve preserved their culture, marketed it throughout the world and Ghanaians want to be like them,” he lamented.
Rex Omar revealed that left to him alone, Shatta Wale should not hold himself out as the ‘Dancehall King,’ he should rather call himself, ‘Highlife King’.
“It would have been far much more beautiful. If I had my way, I would have advised Shatta Wale to be the ‘King of Highlife’ around the globe because most of the things he is doing [have] more highlife elements in [them]. Jamaicans will never accept him as a dancehall artiste but he sits in Ghana and he says he is ‘Dancehall King’ meanwhile I see him as a ‘Highlife King’,” he noted.
Rex Omar went to provide a brief history about the transformation has undergone over the years. “It started during our time that is why highlife or our traditional music was diluted and we mixed funk to Highlife and started calling it ‘Borga’ Highlife that is where the dilution started then it went on,” he explained.
“Then we see the bands started mimicking the American musicians and it went on and then now we see all the top Ghanaian artistes, even if he is playing Highlife, he wants to call it Dancehall or Hiplife.”