Interview with ...
Black Prophet

Remembering Joseph Hill Culture tribute album enabled to highlight Black Prophet, the second Ghanaian artist to have recorded for Penthouse Records. African Roots Rock Reggae singer's reputation grew internationally, his songs get airplay all over the world and he has worked and shared stages with various international producers and artists.

January 2019 -

How did you start your musical career ?
My music career started when I came from my mother’s womb. Music chose me.

Can you explain the choice of your artist name ?
When I was in the streets looking for a direction, I thought about how everything that has to do with black is viewed as evil or bad, and how everything having to do with white was seen as good and holy. At the time my artist name was Home Culture. I thought about how God said that he made man in his own image and I realized that there must be a black prophet. That is how I decided on my name.

What are your main musical influences ?
There was a time when I lived in an unfinished building in Accra. Islept on a cardboard box having to scoot against the corner for shelter from the rain. It was in the corner of that dark room that I decided to become Black Prophet. In this you could say that my struggle was my first inspiration for becoming an artist. As for who I listened to in the early days, artists like the Ghanaian musicians Agya Koo Nimo and Amakye Dede, Fela Kuti, Alpha Blondy and Bob Marley influenced me greatly. The things they sang about really spoke to my struggle comingup, and it had a big effect on me, and my path as an artist.

What was your first single ?
The earliest I can remember is the first track I recorded that I received payment for. The name of the song was “Water Man”. In it, I sang about the “water man” and how it was me all alone with Him. The “water man” refers to the rain coming through the holes in the unfinished ceiling.At that time I didn’t have much; still living in the unfinished building. A friend of mine, who worked at the studio, recorded the song for me, for very little money. I’ll never forget what he did for me. I wouldn’t call it a single because I wasn’t able to release it. But it was the first song I could remember.

Dean Fraser produced a lot of your latest songs. Could you explain to us his way of working ?
I met Dean Fraser in Ghana. They came to the country for a concert. When I met him back stage, I asked if I could help him by holding his saxophone. Dean Fraser does not let people hold his saxophone. He usually keeps it with him, but for some reason he said yes and gave me his saxophone to hold. For me, that was such an honor. Then later when we linked up and decided to do a song together; the song called “Good Feeling”.

You recorded music in Ghana and also several times in Jamaica. Did you observe a difference between Jamaican and African reggae ?
Jamaica is the home of reggae. You can hear it when you listen to Jamaican reggae, and you can clearly hear the African influences when you listen African Reggae music, but we are all one African people.It is just the place where you grow up, and the time, and surroundings, that’s what changes the Music.

You signed a deal with VP Records distribution company VPAL MUSIC, as another Ghanaian artist who also recorded for Penthouse Eye Judah. How is the reggae scene in Ghana ?
The reggae scene in Ghana has been gradually growing for years now. I remember a time when you couldn’t sit next to anyone on a bus as a rasta. Now I’m happy to see many people growing their locks and embracing reggae music, not just in Ghana but the whole world. Now the desire for reggae is growing. The time is here !

How and when did you get connected with Donovan Germain ?
I was in Jamaica working with Dean Fraser when I met Donovan Germain. After we recorded the song “Good Feeling”, I flew back to Europe, and Dean called me and said to come back to Jamaica, to do an album together. That’s when I linked with Donovan. Many of the songs on that album, we did in Donovan Germain’s studio.

Tell us more about your cover of "Innocent Blood" on the Joseph "Culture" Hill tribute album.
In 2016, Donovan Germain told me he was doing a remembering Culture album with a lot of artists. He picks the song and the artist has to sing it and he ended up picking “Innocent Blood” for me.

During the golden years of Penthouse records, which songs left most memories in you ?
I can’t choose a particular song. We’ve done great work. Every song that came out of Penthouse was great. Maybe some Buju Banton and Tony rebel songs.

What projects should we look out for in the future ?
I won’t let the cat out of the box yet, but I’ll say that, you should be looking out for wonderful great works from Zonto aka “Black Prophet”. The Afro Rock Reggae