Listen Up: Jay Q – Jama & Hiplife King

Jay Q – Jama & Hiplife King
Jay Q – Jama & Hiplife King

Jay Q’s sound has undeniably shaped Ghanaian music to this day. When hip hop first came to Ghana, soon to become hiplife, it remained musically similar to American hip hop, until producers such as Hammer, Appietus and Jay Q came on in the mid to late 1990s. By then, the sound started to incorporate elements of highlife and Ghanaian music, giving the songs a distinctly Ghanaian feel.

In the case of Jay Q, he became known for fusing Ga rhythms into his hip hop productions, especially jama, the name given to a spontaneous way of drumming and chanting among Accra’s coastal communities. This mix of hip hop and local drumming resonated deep with the youth: by the mid 2000s, Jay Q’s signature broken glass jingle could be heard in every other song on the radio.

Unlike Appietus, who continued to make hits for several more years, Jay Q moved to the US and abruptly ended his otherwise prolific career. No further moves in the industry to keep his name afloat in the media. While many of his hits remain instant party starters in Ghana and its diaspora, his name as a producer is no longer always known by younger generations.

Nevertheless, last April, Ghana’s rap don Sarkodie initiated a “battle of the hitz” between Appietus and Jay Q, to salute their immense contribution to music in Ghana. “These guys created incredible records and we need to celebrate it.”

This compilation is the first body of work dedicated specifically to Jay Q’s music and legacy. It features pioneers and heavyweights of hiplife and highlife, artists such as VIP, Praye, Buk Bak, 4×4, Wutah, Tinny, Samini, Kwabena Kwabena and of course the late Castro.

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