Osagyefo's Reality Check album launch affirms power of reggae in Ghana

"The Reality Check album launch was big. Give thanks to everyone who passed through."

These are the words of Osagyefo after the conclusion of one of Accra's biggest reggae events this year, featuring an incredible selection of artists and enthusiastic fans.

Hailing from Kumasi but now based in Accra, Osagyefo, who is also known as Da Simple Entertainer, is among the main interpreters of the roots/reggae/dancehall movement in Ghana and West Africa. He has been a consistent presence on the scene and a consciously lyrical analyst and mentor for upcoming artists.

Reality Check is the title of his third studio album, realised in collaboration with producers Zapp Mallet, Wazumbi, Crownzy Beat and I Bee, and released by the artist's label, Simple Entertainer. The 20-track offering can be streamed on the Apprisemusic platform.

But Reality Check is also a state of mind, and the album launch on 28 February was a true example of that: hosted by Reggae Network Ghana and presented by MCs Jah Love and Conscious Queen, it was a massively successful open-air event with a powerful line-up of reggae and dancehall artists including Ras Kunta & Mighty Orthodox, Blakk Rasta, Ras Kuuku, Konkarah and Kojo Komboloh.

The event took place at the well-known Bukom Square, one of the first settlements of the Ga people and one of Accra's oldest communities. The square usually plays host to boxing matches but on that night it was transformed into an inclusive space where locals, foreigners, Rasta elders and the neighbourhood’s youngsters congregated under the reggae banner.

The show started in the early evening and ended in the morning. There were three different rhythm sections backed by horns and backing vocalists, who provided an ideal canvas for the artists to perform their sets and interact with the crowd.

Tracing the evolution of a genre that has most noticeably affirmed itself in Jamaica, it is easy to observe reggae's shared roots and foundation in West Africa's traditional rhythms. The age-old transatlantic connection between Africa and the Caribbean perfectly fits in with the Ghana Tourism Authority's 2019 theme Year of Return, which marks 400 years of the slave trade between Africa and the Americas. In addition, the Reality Check album launch aptly marked the end of Black History Month.

'Positive vibrations, love and unity' was the main message at the event, whose turnout demonstrated the fact that reggae is alive and well in Ghana. Even though dancehall and Afrobeat may be more popular at the moment, the roots reggae movement represents the relentless and universal spirit of Rastafari.

The night was a true team effort with support from an entire community. This shows that reggae is an essential part in the lives of many Ghanaians – not only because of how often it's heard in tro tros (minibus taxis) and various other public spaces across Ghana, but even more so because of its unique ability to bring people together, regardless of their cultural, ethnic or religious identities.

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