After decades of active practice on the American popular music scene, Chicago-based Ghanaian artiste developer and producer, Benjamin Osafo, better known as Ben Funkman, is convinced that hiphop is a God-sent economic asset to black people that they have not taken due advantage of.
Funkman has been domiciled in the United States over the last 38 years and has vast experience in all aspects of the music business. He is the CEO of Unitty Entertainment which has worked over the last decade or so, in his words, “to transform Chicago into the new hotspot of entertainment in America.”
With his knowledge of the American music scene, Funkman says black people everywhere must see the great gift God has given them through hiphop and work to take control of it at the executive level.
“Anytime black music takes over the world, there are no black executives who can realise that it is an economic gift God has given to us to use to enrich our people and make our neighbourhoods, cities and countries better.
“White folks take our hiphop and they write the cheques and they take it to make their nations better while we just drive nice cars and put gold chains on our necks and think we are hip,” Funkman said in an interview with Showbiz at Scratch Studios in Accra.
He came to town for his mother’s funeral and took the advantage to hook up with old pal, Kofi Amoakohene who is CEO of Scratch Studios and Entertainment, a one-stop music outfit based at East Legon.
A product of the Presbyterian Secondary School (Presec) at Legon in Accra and the Chicago Business Institute, Funkman’s conviction is that Ghanaian songwriters, producers and engineers must learn to be competitive worldwide.
He was emphatic that it was not enough for people to have musical talent but that there must be adequate knowledge at the executive level to positively control and channel the talent to the advantage of the artistes and their environment.
He is ready to make his knowledge in the music industry available here so his Unitty Entertainment Company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Scratch to facilitate that.
“The partnership with Scratch is to try and take the entertainment business in Ghana to the next level. Those of us with the knowledge are willing to teach. If we are not willing to learn, Ghana music would be dead because there are no Ghanaian artistes of solid international repute out there.
“There has been none since Osibisa. It would be easy to teach here because Scratch already has the resources to facilitate passing on of knowledge to engineers, producers and songwriters to be worldwide competitive,” Funkman said.
He added that under the MOU with Scratch, there would be exchange of different categories of personnel in the entertainment industry between Unitty Entertainment and Scratch for cross-fertilisation of ideas.
“From Ghana, we should be able to create artistes who will be able to create something unique, culture-changing and globally- acceptable,” Funkman said.
Kofi Amoakohene also said Scratch would develop an in-house sound which would be used as the basis to get Ghanaian music into the American and general foreign market.
He urged Ghanaian artistes willing to be part of the project with Unitty to send samples of their music to Scratch.
By Kouame Koulibaly/Graphic Showbiz/Ghana