By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo
The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo –Addo sent a congratulatory tweet to Shatta Wale, stating, ‘You do all’ – literally meaning, ‘you’ve done it all’. This follows the artiste’s involvement in the most-talked-about project within the world of entertainment; Beyoncé’s ‘Black is King’ motion picture.
To get the attention of the President is one thing and to actually get him to send shouts of plaudits is a big deal. The President, ever smart and overly intelligent, was just not using a street parlance but meant every word he penned in that tweet.
Critically speaking, the President had little choice to congratulate Shatta Wale, considering the fact that the name of the artiste is all over the local and international media and the brand Ghana is tagged along heavily in every mention of the artiste.
Biggest Moment in Entertainment
Shatta Wale’s feature with Beyoncé is indisputably the biggest moment in Ghanaian entertainment. The partnership is the biggest international collaboration ever witnessed in Ghanaian show business and no Ghanaian artiste has received such enormous worldwide spotlight like Shatta Wale is enjoying now.
Candidly, no tourism-related event or venture has catapulted the name Ghana unto the international market like Shatta Wale’s involvement with this project.
This moment is arguably grander to Ghana Black Stars’ first qualification to the World Cup in 2006 and their first ever qualification to the quarterfinals at the 2010 edition in South Africa. It is bigger than the legendary Azumah Nelson first title win and definitely bigger than the Black Satellites’ winning the World Cup. It is bigger than the laudable ‘Year of Return’ initiative and the plethora of events that came with it.
What’s more? The entire creative and tourism industries all had impressive wins as both personnel and areas in Ghana were projected by this project.
The Power of Beyoncé
Music collaborations and features have always been a business move and whom you collaborate with counts and Beyoncé surely counts in every business sense – massively!
Some naysayers still cannot fathom the noise this project is generating all over the world. They still cannot comprehend how huge Beyoncé is and has always been for the past decades.
Check this out;
Beyoncé is one of the world’s bestselling musicians of all time, selling over 100million records with a net worth of $400million. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) rated her as the top Certified Artiste of the decade and Billboard rated her as the top Female Artiste of the decade.
TIME Magazine has listed her several times as one of the most influential personalities in the last decades. American weekly magazine, ‘The New Yorker’ described Beyoncé as “the most important and compelling popular musician of the twenty-first century.”
British publication, NME, described her as an outspoken advocate for civil rights, feminism and self-expression, proving that it’s possible to be politically engaged and still hold down an extremely successful career in mainstream entertainment.
Cake Was Big Enough To Share
Shatta Wale’s feature on the song, ‘Already’ which is also a part of her ‘Black Is King’ visual album, meant, a video had to be shot, as part of the visual representation based on tracks from The Lion King: the Gift, the soundtrack from the 2019 film remake of The Lion King.
Beyoncé, who has a strong conviction in new talent, ensured that Shatta Wale was not the only full-bloodied Ghanaian or with Ghanaian lineage to partake in such a historic project.
There was Kwasi Fordjour, Beyonce’s creative director and co-director for the movie who is Ghanaian-American, then there was Ghanaian-American filmmaker and photographer, Joshua Kissi, who directed the scenes in Ghana.
Accra-based dance school ‘Dance with Purpose (DWP), led by Dancelord Lloyd, which took part in the ‘Already’ dance challenge, got the opportunity of a lifetime to be part of the project.
Ghanaian stylist, Nana Kwasi Wiafe provided additional styling, assisting Beyonce’s costume designer Zerina Akers to provide wardrobe for the entire shoot while David Boanuh served as the Director of Photography for all scenes shot in Ghana.
Wait, there’s more Ghanaian representation;
Blitz Bazawule and Emmanuel Adjei were also directors for the project and there’s Sharifah Issaka, an Accra-based and native Ghanaian producer who coordinated the logistics and worked with the talent to bring to life Beyonce’s vision.
Money for the Economy
It is quite torrid to pooh-pooh the idea of fans of Shatta Wale, who are calling for the government of Ghana to honour the artiste – considering the impact such an association with the international superstar has affected the country.
The economic impact, both estimable and inestimable, has been huge, especially when you factor in how many Ghanaians were paid, and according to Sharifah Issaka in an interview with Fashion Magazine, ELLE, – “One of the things I loved about being a part of this project is not only were they hiring Black creatives, but they were paying them well and that’s something that doesn’t always happen.”
She also talked about how Shatta Wale’s influence got the production to fly into Ghana and shoot in locations in the Eastern Region and Greater Accra Region, including the suburb of Nima in Accra.
“One location that we made sure to include was Nima, the community that Shatta Wale calls home. He has so much love for the place and they love him right back. It was really special to be able to include that,” she explained.
The level of recognition Shatta Wale has placed on himself and Ghana is awe-inspiring. Every high-profile news portal, news organization, magazine, newsletter and every showbiz platform – from BBC to CNN, Billboard, FOX, Pitchfork, to ELLE to Variety to every other platform had valuable space for the Ghanaian artiste.
Every mention of Shatta Wale came with the mention of Ghana, something that can’t be quantified, and something so critical, it cannot be paid with money.
The Government of Ghana, through its Ministry of Tourism paid CNN a staggering amount of US$200,000.00 to showcase a video documentary on Ghana’s slave castles in 2018.
Here, the Government paid absolutely nothing, yet, the gains have been enormous and not only were locations in Ghana shown but quality talent in the creative industry were projected as well. Such a big win for Ghana. All hail Shatta Wale!