Exclusive: Stonebwoy Talks Keri Hilson Collaboration, ‘Anloga Junction, & More

Published: Friday 29th May 2020 by Sam

Stonebwoy continues to make an indelible mark on the music scene.

The Ghanaian native stormed the Afro diaspora and beyond with a seemingly endless array of hits, a trajectory that continues with new album ‘Anloga Junction.’

It’s a project that defines global, thanks to its eclectic sound and list of features; one of the most notable being Keri Hilson, who duets with the star on budding smash ‘Nominate.’

Highly decorated, Stonebwoy (whose past collabs include Trey Songz and Burna Boy) has been nominated for a GRAMMY and won the Best International Act honor at the BET Awards.

Still, during an EXCLUSIVE interview with That Grape Juice, he tells us us his goals remain toweringly tall.

A candid conversation wth Stonebwoy awaits below…

That Grape Juice: You’ve been making a lot of waves on a global scale. But for those that are new to you as an artist, tell us a little bit about your journey up until this point.

Stonebwoy: My journey has been (what I hope is an) inspiring story. One people connect with because it’s based on work ethic. I’m an artist, an entrepreneur, and a youth speaker. I see myself as a Ghanaian who is an icon for the youth globally and a proud representative from Africa as well. That’s who is Stonebwoy is.

That Grape Juice: Your new single ‘Nominate’ features Keri Hilson. We’ve had it on replay ever since it dropped. How did that collaboration come about and what was it like working with her?

Stonebwoy: Working with Keri Hilson was a very beautiful thing. Her work ethic is like way up there. She’s super talented, super gifted as well.

We cooked the song right from the scratch. We took the rhythm right from scratch with GRAMMY-winning producer Dre Harris. Right there, the first key she struck, the first cord she played was the one we stuck with for ‘Nominate.’ So it was like we were all blessed to be in the same zone to work on that.

As for how the collab actually came about, it all started when a friend of mine met Keri on a flight. He didn’t know it was Keri initially but when the conversation changed up into music then he said ’hey, that Stonebwoy’s an impressive guy from Ghana.’ She’s privy to the Afrobeat scene and Keri had actually toured a lot and had visited Africa like many times. So she was like ‘yeah, I think that name sounds familiar.’ And then my guy pushed for some details. Later, I had a tour in America last year November. And that was the same time where we went into the studio.

She actually invited me, so I went to Atlanta and we met up in a studio and cooked everything from scratch.

Really thankful to have her on the project, because the aim is to continue to diversify and promote and push Stonebwoy to other parts of the world. After winning the BET Award and gaining that humongous attention, we’ve been putting out projects, and I’ve been pushing the agenda through the Caribbean a lot. I think 2015, ’17, ’18 had me do a lot more collaborations with Jamaican and Caribbean acts. Now that that has stuck well, I think that it’s time to spread to the American and African continents proper.

That Grape Juice: You’ve got a really eclectic sound that pulls from different areas, different genres. Who would you say some of your influences have been?

Stonebwoy: My influences have been some of the great, great Reggae legends and great dancehall artists that have been and are still doing it. And of course African music. I think African music has been named differently a lot of times. Afrobeat etc.

For me, though, definitely original Highlife music which forms the basis and the foundation of the Afrobeat we have today. Because no matter how you play Afrobeat, you still have to have that Highlife at the core. You have to have that highlife core to it. Ghana actually is the founding home of that Highlife music which is the bedrock of today’s Afrobeat sound.

Artistically speaking, we have the Bob Marley’s, we have the Damian Marley’s and all of that. The Dancehall artists. We have a lot, lot, lot more of the names. So these are just a few. And I’ve also collaborated with a lot of big names from Elephant Man to Beenie Man to Sean Paul. These have been my influences over time.

That Grape Juice: So YCEO and Avance Media have listed you one of the top 50 young CEOs. How important do you feel entrepreneurship is for artists in today’s day and age? Specifically as relates to diversifying the hustle…

Stonebwoy: So like you said, first and foremost, it’s all about diversifying the hustle. And as times and ages go, we’ve seen individual artists become these CEOs, and have doubled their worth, and have doubled their yield as well.

In the past, it’s like you’re an artist, you put out a lot of good songs to carve your niche. You become settled in that niche. And that’s that. Now, you can also grow out of that box to do the necessary which is  diversify. So I think that is just what is the quest God has intended; the need to grow and expand. I am proud to be one of the continent’s top CEOs and one the most influential.

I have my own merchandise line that I’m running. My record label has always belonged to me. I have been independent for some time. So I’ve invested in myself all these years. You put in every penny because you own yourself and you put in a plan and strategy. You have to hire a lot of corporations to deal with. You have to sit in the meetings. You have to … I see all these things as a way to push up. Also when you’re well grounded, then you can have some spare time. But for now as a young youth like mine coming from the ghettos where nobody’s going to do anything for you, you have to stand up for yourself. It’s the same story that has guided me and have pushed me into becoming what I am now.

That Grape Juice: Looking forward now, who are some of the acts that you would like to collaborate with on a global scale?

Stonebwoy: I’d like to work with Rihanna. That’s one of the names on my list. And then anybody else as well. DJ Khaled, Rihanna, these are my top pics. I know DJ Khaled doesn’t sing but I like his style. Alicia Keys.

That Grape Juice: You’ve won BET Awards. You’ve won Ghana Music Awards as well. What is the ultimate goal moving forward?

Stonebwoy: Moving forward, my simple goal is to leave a mark in the industry and be mentioned as one of the greats. Because we are in a developing country and therefore, our art and culture industry is also developing. So for us to have this opportunity and to have worked so hard to get to this point, I think it lays on us a responsibility to be able to outline and push and really, really rearrange the settings and the system in order to be able to be fruitful, and viable and strong.

So for me, I only want to be a part of the people that create and change the narrative from here which is my ultimate mission. Both with the music and both as a person, because definitely you can’t stay young forever but your work and your beat can live on for life. That’s my ultimate goal, to impact generations with my music, as a musician, with my lifestyle and everything that I do.

That Grape Juice: What can they expect from the project in terms for the rest of 2020?

Stonebwoy: If COVID subsides, content-wise the rest of 2020 for me is going to be a lot of roads, man. We’re going to go to length and breadth of Africa. We’re going to continue with the tour. So there’s just going to be like the Anloga Junction Tour to the world. We’re going to connect Africa to the world and other Africans to Africans with the music. I think that there’s a lot we can achieve as musicians with our message.

The world will be needing mouthpieces and messengers like musicians to carry on a message to change the narrative and inspire the mindset of people to be able to talk. Music is a message and without the message we can’t get a directive of what it is to do. So the latter part of 2020 – corona or not – there’s work to be done.

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Check out Stonebwoy’s ‘Le Gba Gbe’ newly released video:

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