I had a conversation with a young rapper who called himself God. I was intrigued by his nascent ‘wokeness’, especially, since he was just making the come up. A rapper with a recognized musical catalogue would have a stronger reason for such self-assuredness. I asked him this: “What makes you think you are God?” He replied that he didn’t think he was God. “I know I am God,” he declared confidently, and went on to say I was God too even though I was scared of it. His conclusion about my fear irked me, and so I asked him again, “What makes you God?” This time, he had a sombre, cryptic response, something to the effect that I wouldn’t understand him if he typed it on Twitter.
The World Acclaimed Lyrical Entertainer [WALE] is meant to give a marginalized artiste a moniker to match his ambition. Bandana was a short-lived experience; his career faded just like the scarf (the fashion trend) that inspired the name. Today, Shatta Wale is the ‘Dancehall King Inna Da Whole Ghana’. He sings with the conviction that he is the best out there and would out-shine Wizkid in a battle of the stars. You might worry about his relevance outside Ghana, but the ghost that rose from Bandana’s corpse is not afraid of any challenge.
Abodam is another man whose name has shaped his destiny. It takes a brave man to call himself mad, and a crazier population to rally behind madness and call it kingly. Fit for each other, Kwaw Kese has delivered on his name by spewing wild lines in front of a raging public. Calling himself ‘’King of The Street’’ was not a show-off. At his peak, the streets were his and he commanded it with the zeal of a young ruler.
Another artiste who has demonstrated the above wholly is none other than Amandzeba. The Ghanaian highlife veteran morphed from Nat Brew in the aught of the 90s as part of the incredible trio ‘’NAKOREX’’- along with Akosua Agyapong and Rex Omar. Recognizing the importance and power of identity, Nat Brew assumed the name Amandzeba which translate as ‘Son of Tradition’. Since then, his whole demeanour took a different course; his music became truly African; his couture also reflected his new path. Same went for the ‘Divine Drummer’, Guy Warren, who changed his name to Kofi Ghanaba to reflect the origins of his afrojazz musical style in the 1960s.
Some names are bare and straightforward: first name, last name. They come with no strings attached. There are no stories behind the name, no hidden scars to be unravelled. Where others hide behind alter egos, these performers give you all of themselves, even if it is a vain portrait. Artistes like Kofi Kinaata, Kwesi Arthur and recently Fameye jumps into mind.
Names can also serve as a cloak or a mask behind which an artist unleashes his imaginations and artistic potency. Unlike in the case with hidden personalities like Bruce Wayne and Batman or Clark Kent and Superman, these names give ordinary and often shy creatures super powers to move entire crowds from the corner of a studio. Trigmatic is a sharp shooter, Akan is pure, Strongman defies his body size, and AYAT wants you to call him by his name.