Highlife is one of the genres of music many Ghanaians enjoy, with its authentic African rhythms and beautiful messages. These days a lot of highlife musicians are oldies and the young people who sing highlife are very few. Sure, some young people do sing highlife but what we usually see is a mainstream hiplife artist releasing a highlife song or two. However, every once in a while, we do see a young musician being bold enough to exclusively perform highlife. One of such musicians is Okuraseini Samuel.
Fans of TV3’s Mentor might remember Okuraseini Samuel. He was one of those contestants everyone was eager to see during the shows. He had a huge fan base and his eviction came as a shock to many Ghanaians. Tactical Ras Shifo of Cheers FM had a sit down with Okuraseini Samuel on the Cheers Drive Show and Samuel had a lot to say.
Firstly, he explained to Tactical Ras Shifo the origin of the name “Okuraseini.” He was christened Samuel Obeng Wiafe Akenteng. “I chose the name Okuraseini because a name should turn heads.” According to him, he loves his name, Samuel. “Okuraseini” translates into English as a villager. In Samuel’s view, Ghanaians misunderstand the word “okuraseini.” Ghanaians see it as an insult, denoting someone who comes from a village and lacks manners. However, an “okuraseini” is someone who helps people or members of his family. He chose this name and not wanting to lose his given Christian name, he combined the two.
During the Mentor competition, he was evicted and yet among all his comrades, he’s the most popular. Tactical Ras Shifo questioned him about this. According to Samuel, his music career was not based on whether or not he won the competition. He says that he said to himself that the competition was not what was going to make him a star. How about those musicians who never entered competitions? What about them? The likes of Daddy Lumba, Amakye Dede, and Shatta Wale never entered any competitions and yet they’re stars. The sure way is to put God first. Samuel was of the view that, entering into a competition with apprehension means you’ve lost already. He entered the Mentor competition with no apprehension in his heart and he feels that’s one of the reasons he was able to cope with being evicted.
“Who do you think is a genius in highlife music?” Ras posed this question to Okuraseini Samuel. “I think the typical, pure highlife king of highlife in Ghana here whom I’d love to be like is my own father Abrantie Amakye Dede.” Samuel was full of praise for the seasoned highlife musician. “He hasn’t released a new album and yet he still has hit. He has the ability to sing and control his live band and though he hasn’t released a new song, he is still well to do. Even as young men do not have the abilities he has. He’s also a chief. I want to be like him.”
Samuel was asked his opinion on current young highlife artistes. When asked which two young musicians he saw as being capable of reaching the level of Amakye Dede, Samuel readily mentioned the name of Bisa Kdei. He was of the view that Bisa can easily get there. Kuame Eugene’s name was next on his tongue. However, Okuraseini said that Kidi is also one to look out for. “The very sight of him proves he’s a star. He’s one to look out for.” He was a little reluctant though to give his opinion on who he thinks the best dancehall artistes are. “They’re all very good singers. They all do really well. Stonebwoy is a good musician. So is Shatta Wale, whom I’ve had a show with before.”
Okuraseini shared with Ras Shifo his views on being a musician. “Reggie has a pub. Amakye Dede has a pub. This is one of the reasons I want to be like Amakye Dede and hence I model my life after him. You have to understand that doing music doesn’t mean after leaving the studio, you come home and relax, no. You have to find work to do as an aside. I know of a musician who is very good, he does very well. I shall not say his name though. He’s good but he takes pleasure in certain things; you know what I mean. The usual thing is that after leaving the studio, you go to a bar and have drinks with friends. If you don’t take care, you’ll come down.”
Okuraseini Samuel comes from the Brong Ahafo region, Dormaa to be precise. Therefore, Ras wonders why he rarely features artists from his region. Okuraseini took this allegation well. In his defense, he said that they’d planned to do shows in the region. However, every region has a reigning musician. You just can’t move in on someone’s territory. For instance, he cited Kooko as an example. “There might even be someone better than Kooko but it’s Kooko we have heard of in Accra. Our doors are always open for the underground artists.”Highlife is one of the genres of music many Ghanaians enjoy, with its authentic African rhythms and beautiful messages. These days a lot of highlife musicians are oldies and the young people who sing highlife are very few. Sure, some young people do sing highlife but what we usually see is a mainstream hiplife artist releasing a highlife song or two. However, every once in a while, we do see a young musician being bold enough to exclusively perform highlife. One of such musicians is Okuraseini Samuel.