I Now Understand Why Old Musicians Hate New Ones – By Kwame Dadzie

I have grown to realize the verity in some assertions made by one sage of antiquity, Ralph Waldo Emerson in his book ‘Nature’ that, “new arts destroy the old” and that “the new statement is always hated by the old”.

He writes about impermanence of nature, how something that is in vogue today will be outmoded tomorrow, how the new is formed from vestiges of the old, yet the old always sees the new as of low pedigree than things of its time.

The above illustrations resonate well with people in the arts and entertainment industry. Every new craze has streaks of an old phenomenon but because it vitiates the old, it is hated by the old.

If your mum is one who is against the dress codes of ladies of today as revealing, scanty or provocative,  just go through their photo albums and you are likely to chance on photos of theirs which have them in almost the same or worst dresses than what we have today tagged as indecent. To them, everything of today cannot be as good as those of their time.

During the days of burger high-life, people who did crude high-life thought burger high-life was too westernized as those who performed it sought to look and sound like pop greats the James Brown’s and Michael Jackson’s. You remember Charles Amoah and his jelly curls? How about his Wacko Jacko dance moves? So was Ambulley taking the mickey of James Brown.

Preceding this era, the traditional folk music had also gone through an evolution. The introduction of modern western instruments like the horns, keyboard, and guitars saw it move to a “higher life”, hence its name highlife.

Obviously, the western influence which affected most countries colonized by the whites, was great and brought about simulations in most activities of our lives.

When Reggie Rockstone and his cronies brought hiplife, the high-lifers and their fans talked against it. This was because, it was coming to silence the old. It was as though the old had never seen anything foreign infused into our local indigenous culture.

Few years later, this hiplife culture too began to change, and again those who started the old hiplife and their contemporaries started badmouthing it. We had hiplife offshoots like Raglife, Crank, Azonto, and recently there is ”something” called Twipop. Tomorrow, when another sub-genre of hiplife or an entirely new genre springs up, fans and patrons of the current genres and sub-genres will say it is not as good as theirs. This goes a long way to affirm Emerson’s claims in his book that the old hates the new.

There are some people especially the older folk who still hold the view that hiplife is not Ghanaian and should not be promoted at the expense of highlife. If they accepted burger highlife which also had western influence, why not accept hiplife and other genres that are yet to be born?

Anytime I hear people say hiplife is not making any positive impact on our society, I retch. This is a music type that has taken Ghana to the international level. At least we have Sarkodie’s BET Award to show for it, aside prestigious nominations earned by some other hiplife artistes in international awards. In spite of the fact that some hiplife musicians spew gibberish in their songs, we can also mention the numerous others whose songs touch on issues that positively affect society. Obrafuor, Obuor, Okyeame Kwame are few of those people. You remember Obrafuor’s ”Ntitiepa”? What about Obuor’s road safety song? Okyeame Kwame’s ”Woso” is also such an inspirational piece that implores one to ‘shake off’ that which hobbles their progress.

Even though it is human nature for the older folk to ‘hate’ the new, we cannot skew the facts to favour anybody. We must learn to adapt to changing times. Those older folk who don’t talk good about music neophytes and genres of their generation need to accept the fact that, ”that was then” but ”this is now”.