We caught up with Stonebwoy to discuss his latest album ‘5th Dimension‘, the early success of the project, and the work of his charity, The Livingstone Foundation.

Stonebwoy’s latest releases deliver some of his best music to date, with a star-studded line up and producer credits from the likes of JAE5, Izy Beats, FanaTix and Supa Dups, It’s a trajectory that’s seen the Ghanian firebrand amass millions of streams and Instagram followers all whilst selling out arena shows internationally. He continues to underline himself as one of Ghana’s key new generation icons, balancing global hits with a rare political will as a vocal supporter of Pan Africanism. We caught up with him to discuss his latest album ‘5th Dimension‘, the early success of the project, and the work of his charity, The Livingstone Foundation.

Bethel: This is a huge album with 17 out of 60 tracks making it to the final list. What was it that stood out with these tracks?

Stonebwoy: These were very carefully selected songs, they had to go through the whole screening process. Screening in terms of, we have a vision line for it and I am actually a very versatile artist who creates records across the board – you’d be surprised what my inspiration would be for tomorrow when I’m working on a song, I can pick something that would just blow your mind and I work with it. So I have music from a wide base and I think that helped to fit the different demographics that I appeal to. Every song on the album is like one of one. There’s no song on the album that is like, “Okay, this one is similar to that one.” 

It was difficult, because there are different songs which are one of ones, but some which are not necessarily similar. We had to individually select different songs and I got to have most of my top picks on the list, which are making big hits right now. ‘Into The Future’ is killing it, ‘Apotheke’, and ‘Life & Money’!

Bethel: I love that. ‘Life & Moneyand ‘Non Stop’ are probably my favourite. What would you say are your top picks?

Stonebwoy: Every song is literally my favourite, I promise! ‘Where Is The Love’ is one of my favourites, ‘In Control’ is one of my favourites, ‘My Sound’ is one of my favourites, ‘Secret Lover’ is one of my favourites. So it’s really difficult, I can relate to every song uniquely. That’s why the album is very special to me in any regard.

Bethel: Other than the amazing artists that you have chosen to feature, you’ve worked with some of the most successful producers in the industry. What would you say is the biggest challenge when you work on a project this big with creative individuals with different styles.

Stonebwoy: The thing is, as I travel across the globe I work alongside my travels. The challenge would be to realistically determine what I want to accomplish, because I consider myself a workaholic – I really love to work. That would be the challenge for somebody who doesn’t really love to work, they will feel like they gotta keep going. That would have been a challenge for me if I wasn’t so inspired and passionate to keep going. I live for this and as they say, “if you love what you do, you never work a day.” So if you’re equally inspired and as passionate as I am, you never really find any difficulty in these things. 

Bethel: You’ve called the album ‘5th Dimension’ to signify the expansion of your style and sound. What kind of changes should your fans expect to see from you?

Stonebwoy: I believe that my core fans and those who are getting to know the Stonebwoy brand now can understand, especially even if you listen to this album alone, how wide-ranged my creativity goes. I consider myself as somebody who can tap into anything musically, especially music of black origin, whether it was created here in Africa or it was hybrid from the diaspora. Once it is of black origin, I promise Stonebwoy will be able to touch on it. 

Bethel: As an artist, it is important to consider how your work performs on a global scale. What was it that prompted the need to look at your global presence?

Stonebwoy: There’s always a need to have a global presence. Right from the beginning my inspiration to venture into creating music has never been boxed in or localized. I’ve always seen ‘globe’ more than ‘continent’. Even as a child one of the things I loved the most was history – especially African history, and I got to understand how African history has impacted the world. There’s Africans across the globe, so even if I was localised or local-minded, I would still be appealing to our locals across the globe. Right from the onset, I had an understanding of making sure that my music can appeal to my local people, globally, and therefore the global people.

That’s how I’ve always contributed to merging afrobeats and dancehall right from the start. Before it was even called Afrobeats, you just had African music from our predecessors, our founding fathers, our foundation. Afrobeats has become an umbrella name for all the African sounds that emerge on to the globe – it’s a great feeling to know that. So I’ve always blended styles and always had a global mindset.

Bethel: What has been an important experience for you during the production of this album?

Stonebwoy: What I’ve taken is that it’s really important to note that quality music needs investment, it doesn’t just come by. We realize that it is a need to fix the technical beats behind the scenes so that your sound can last a lifetime. You don’t play down quality, you also expand and open your tentacles to work on a global level. I have so many top producers from across the globe and also five Ghanaian born producers who are doing amazing on the album.

Bethel: I just want to shed some light on ‘The Livingstone Foundation’. This is an important charity to you on a very personal level, and I’d like to know your thoughts on the responsibility we have that as we succeed, we also give back to our people?

Stonebwoy: Yeah, in our own small ways. Success is relative to everybody and I don’t trust that you have to wait until you believe you are successful to be able to contribute to the life cycle of things that happen around us. When we are contributing to it, we are destroying the life cycle without knowing it and sometimes we contribute to fixing it without knowing we are. We don’t have to get to a point where you say you are successful to give back to the community, because most of the time the community never gave us nothing. We want to contribute to the narrative of making it easier for some other people. So this is how the whole Livingston foundation, which is a charity that I own, do. We do the least and we do the most.

Bethel: What do you mean by that?

Stonebwoy: It depends on how you see it. I pay people’s school fees, personally. It doesn’t come under the foundation’s name, but it’s me who said so. You might walk on the street and give a hand out to somebody on the roadside and that’s what I’ll consider as the ‘least’, but it means a lot to those who genuinely need it. It’s gratitude, but gratitude is like a gift if you give it. The ‘most’ in my perspective is when we embarked on a tree planting campaign with the government and we planted thousands of trees. I’m always advocating for global and climate situations whereby we protect our environment, especially like this.

They say “When the last tree dies the last man dies.” We’ve realised that here in Ghana, there has been an increasingly high pollution of the environment, and especially the water bodies. It’s estimated that in the 20 or 15 years to come, we will be importing water because all our natural water bodies would have been polluted by practices such as mining, whether legal or illegal. So my team and I followed up on a situation around the western region, where there’s a village that has been complaining about not getting clean water, because their only source of water through the River Pra has been heavily polluted and ionised with all the chemicals. I’ve decided that my foundation will do something about it. So we broke ground and commenced building some big boreholes and we made plans to save that community. So that’s what the foundation is doing right now as we speak.

Bethel: I really appreciate your time. I love the album and I love the work that you do beside it. The album, it’s on the Billboards now, right?

Stonebwoy: Yes it is – I’m just grateful to God. I’m doing my own thing in my own way. Coming from Ghana with all the advantages and disadvantages that we deal with collectively, and being able to pierce through like this; I’m very grateful. I started so young – at 18, and I’ve been there from that time till now, still doing the most. You know what I mean. So grateful.

You can listen to Stonebwoy’s latest release below, and discover more from GUAP’s Music section here.