Celebrity Profile:OBRAFOUR


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Kwabena Okyere Darko aka Obrafour, who
hails from Kwawu in the eastern region was
born in 1978. His spent his early childhood at
Kwawu and when he was 5 years old, he left
for Accra to live with his parents.
Obrafuor who attended New Star Preparatory
and then proceeded to Abetifi Secondary and
St. Peter’s Secondary School was born in real
life as Michael Elliot Kwabena Okyere Darko in
1976 to Mr. Kwaku Okyere Darko and Mrs.
Gladys Agyapomaa in Kwahu-Obo.
At the age of 8, Obrafuor sang with his late
mum at church. “Sometimes I sang along with
my mum whilst she was working and to tell
you I partially music was part of me at a
tender age. I never dreamt of becoming a
musician rather it was my dream to become a
lawyer since my grand dad was a lawyer” he
said.
Obrafour had his secondary school education
at Abetifi. After one term at St. Peters where
he was being trained for his A Level, he
dropped out in 1995 when his mother died.
Obrafour believes that he was born with
music. His mum was a chorister. At the age of
4, he watched her mum sing at church with
keen interest. It got to a time that she would
invite him to church to sing with her.
When he was in secondary school, he formed a
quartet and they were doing Gospel songs
until his mum passed away.
“I want to have the most decent lyrics of all-
time”. In a time where musicians join the
hiplife trade almost weekly, it has a tough act
to stay different and ahead of the game.
Kwabena Okyere Darko, popularly known as
Obrafour (Twi for executioner), has carved a
niche for himself as one of the hiplife legends
and a mainstay in Ghanaian music. Obrafour,
the Rap SofoO (Rap Priest) has transcended
the boundaries of music by producing fellow
artistes and appealing to all and sundry with
the breadth of his lyrics and messages and
songs.
Obrafour was born to Mr. Kwaku Okyere Darko
and Mrs. Gladys Agyapomaa in Kwahu-Obo in
1978. He grew up in Kwawu and settled in
Accra later. For his education, he went to New
Star Preparatory, continued at Abeitifi
Secondary School and pursued his A-level
education at St. Peters’ Secondary at Nkwatia.
His mother’s death in 1995 caused him to
drop out. He had been nursing a dream of
becoming a lawyer (after his grandfather).
Unable to continue his education, he took up
another interest of his, music.
Obrafour grew up with music. He was
influenced by his mother, who sang in the
local church choir. He then got the chance to
sing at church at his mother’s invitation and
as fate would have it, he formed a quartet
during his secondary school which performed
Gospel songs. His mum’s death caused him to
stop singing.
Through some encouragement by some
friends, he decided to take up music more
seriously. At that time, Reggie Rockstone, the
Godfather of hiplife, had released his
successful “Maka a maka” album and Obrafour
was inspired. He had also realized the
emergence of artistes like Ex Doe, Chicago,
Akyeame, and Lord Kenya, etc. He decided to
be different from these pioneers and create his
own style. As he began attending various
auditions and performances, he met a few
bumps and setbacks until he met Edward
Nana Poku Osei aka Hammer. Hammer was
an amateur beat maker and did not take the
music business seriously until he met
Obrafour. From Hammer’s own words, they
‘clicked’. For Obrafour and Hammer (the Last
2) fans, the rest is history.
But the common Joe needs to know. Hammer
helped Obrafour secure a deal with Abraham
Ohene Djan (OM Studios) and in late 1999,
Obrafour’s first album, ‘Pae mu ka’ was
produced and distributed. The album was an
acclaimed success and a breadth of fresh air
on the music scene. One of the songs, ‘Kwame
Nkrumah’ paid a resounding tribute to the
Osagyefo and encouraged Ghanaians to unite
and work for the best of the country. ‘Pae mu
ka’ covered various aspects of entertainment
of society with songs like the title track,
‘Yaanom (announcing his presence),
‘Aden’ (talked about life’s struggles), ‘Agoro
no aso’ (party song), and ‘Kokonsa’ (gossip).
The album enjoyed a lot of airplay that to this
day, the “intro and outro” tracks are still
played during radio programmes.
As if to indicate the importance of Obrafour’s
entry into the music scene, he was adjudged
the rapper of the year, new artiste of the year
and best hiplife song for ‘Pae mu ka’ at the
2000 Ghana Music Awards. “Pae mu ka” is
widely acclaimed as the best hiplife album
ever produced. Obrafour’s success paved the
way for Hammer to become one of Ghana’s
premier beat makers as well.
In 2001, Obrafour released his second album,
‘Asem sebe’. Recognising his love for gospel
music, he had as part of this album, the first
ever rap gospel song (EnyE Nyame a) in
Ghana. His premier effort caused a lot of
deejays headaches, not sure whether to play
the song during gospel or hiplife (or even
highlife) shows. In keeping to his decency and
love for socially conscious songs, ‘Obibini
(black man) implored Africans to stand up for
their motherland and work to develop it.
‘Okwantuni’ asked sojourners in foreign
countries to stay in touch with their roots and
come home if they were struggling since their
home would always be ‘home’. ‘Who born you
by mistake’, ‘Asem sebe’ and ‘Twe wo ho’
enjoyed massive airplay, and the album had
other songs like ‘Odo’, ‘Bra be hwe’ and
‘Okukuseku’. Obrafour sought the assistance of
other beat makers than Hammer and had a
few songs with the highlife vein. Even though
his sophomore effort could not outclass ‘Pae
mu ka’, it sold many more copies.
Kwabena Okyere Darko did not forget the hand
that fed him and made him what he was then.
In another first, he came out with a maxi
single album, that remembered the love and
influence of his mother while praising and
underlying the importance of mothers all over.
Featuring Tic Tac and Yoggi Doggi on a remix,
he released his ‘Maame’ single in 2002. To
this day, ‘Maame’ is a Ghanaian music
favourite that rules the airwaves each
Mother’s day. The album also had a song he
did jointly with Tic Tac for Ashfoam which was
very successful.
Obrafour does not consider Maame a ‘full’
album, and his third LP was released in early
2003 under the name ‘Time Out for Adhesion
(TOFA)’. In this album, Obrafour’s love for
singing is heavily noticed. He had a song duet
with longtime backup singer, Adjoa, called
‘Dee dee ko’. Songs like ‘Nyamekye’ and ‘Sete’
are favourites of many highlife music lovers.
He did not disappoint his hiplife fan base, as
‘Oye Ohene’ (He is a king), ‘Adefoode’,
‘Ebehyehyew’ (It will burn you) were chart
busters. Other songs on the album were
‘Mensesa da’ (I will never change),
‘AkokOnini’, ‘Hini me’, and ‘OyonkoO’ (friend).
‘TOFA’ had very good sales following the
success of his other LPs.
As if Obrafour could not fall short of
pacesetting, he decided to release another
album in the same calendar year. His ‘fourth’
LP, ‘NteteE Pa’, came out in late 2003 with a
number of remixes from the ‘TOFA’ album. The
lead single, however, was ‘Nya NteteE Pa’ (Be
disciplined) which coincided with his effort to
join Ghana’s vice president to fight
indiscipline in the country. ‘Nya NteteE Pa’ is
the writer’s favourite song and the most
lyrically involving song to ever come from
hiplife’s ranks. It was voted by the song of the
2003 by Joy FM listeners and Obrafour’s
legendary was magnified. It also won the best
original song (lyrics) at the 2003 Ghana
Music Awards. ‘Ntetee Pa’ won the album of
the year at the Ghana Music Awards UK for
2004. Other songs on the album were ‘Oye
Ohene Remix’ featuring Tinny (one of the best
remixes ever), ‘Who Jah Bless’, ‘Sete remix’,
‘Monfa nsa’ (Dance with it), and ‘Obaa bi’ (a
certain girl).
He started his own indiscipline campaign
which targeted the youth mostly even though
he had advice for everyone (from ministers
and musicians to taxi drivers and pastors).
His Platinum Project on indiscipline was
divided into two main segments; the Lecture/
Counselling Workshop and the H.E.L.P
(Hiplife Education and Literacy Project) Ghana
initiative. The Lecture/Counselling Workshop
had three principal objectives which were
drugs combat, promoting disciplined habits in
schools and raising a hundred million cedis
for charity (H.E.L.P.). The project involved
television series, concerts to raise funds for
H.E.L.P. which offered free tutorials and
scholarships to children and was to support
needy but brilliant students to help them
further their education. His project was
supported by the vice president himself, the
Greater Accra regional minister and other
musicians.
In 2004, Obrafour decided to use his record
label, Execution Entertainment (which had
been responsible for his last three albums) to
expose new talents on Ghana’s music scene.
He produced ‘Execution Diary’ with the help of
Hammer which was the first major
compilation album involving hiplife artistes by
another hiplife artiste. The LP had songs
which introduced relatively new ‘hiplife foot
soldiers’ like ‘Oye nonsense’ by Kwaw Kese,
‘Ntakaa’ by Hot Core, ‘Susu dwen me ho’ by
Dogo and further enhanced the careers of
Tinny with ‘Heko Ejorko’ (I believe I can fly),
Okyeame Quame with ‘Opabeni’, 4×4 with
‘Kpekpele’ and Yoggi Doggi with ‘Ye ne saa
ma me’. ‘Oye Nonsense’,’Heko ejorko’,
‘Opabeni’ and ‘Kpekpele’ all enjoyed massive
airplay and were on Ghana’s 20 biggest hits
at one point in time.
Obrafour has since taken a break behind the
scenes, working on producing more artistes
with his Execution Entertainment label and
working on another album due out soon. He
plans to retire from hiplife soon to concentrate
on more production and yearns to produce a
Ghanaian ‘country music’ album. His label is
in the process of distributing Digital Video
Disks (DVD) and Video Compact Disk (VCD)
music videos from the compilation (‘Execution
Diary’). Obrafour is also planning to launch
his clothing line, ‘OB4’.
Obrafour’s fame transcends the borders of
Ghana, as he has performed in Europe as well
as the US. His concerts and performances are
ones to behold. He has also featured on a
number of artistes’ tracks, including Tic Tac’s
‘Philomina’, Daasebre Dwamena’s ‘Kokooko’
remix and Nana Quame’s ‘Alimatu’. He has
also helped bring into the limelight Tinny,
Dogo, Yaw Labito and KGPM.
He is interested in going to sound production
and engineering in the future and loves
country music and playing video games. The
rap priest has been quite for awhile but expect
him to come back with a bang and give you
more bangs for your bucks.
Obrafour has featured on quite a number of
tracks, including TicTac’s ‘Philomena’, Nana
Kwame’s Adowa rhythm, Dasebre Dzamina’s
remix of his Kokoko track. He has also worked
with KgPM, Okra and Dogo.
Obrafour now has 3 albums to his credit;
Paemonka, Asemsebe and Tofa.
In 2000, Obrafour received an award for Rap
song of the year for ‘Paemonka’.
Obrafour likes listening to country music and
his hobbies are playing video games. He aims
are becoming a sound engineer in the near
future.
Later on, a friend by name Quincy who could
rap approached him and due to his
encouragements, he gave it a try. “Reggie
Rockstone is an artiste I looked up to. He is
my role model and the funny thing is that I
hanged his picture on my wall with the notion
that he was always physically present in my
room” he added.
Inspired by Snoop Dogg, Kwabena Darko
wanted to carve his own being and rap in Twi.
His first outside performance was at a
programme held at Secaps Hotel which he was
invited by a friend of his by name Afia to come
over and show the world what he had inside
him. B.B Menson now of Radio Gold was by
then the master of ceremony and as B.B saw
him perform, he was carried away by his style
and thus wanted to help him out but due to
one or more reasons, the efforts to help him
out proved futile.
Through the help of a friend, Obrafuor came
into contact with one of Ghana’s best
engineers if not the best by name Hammer.
“Hammer told me to do a little bit of my style
and wow a deal was in the cooking,” he said
beaming with smiles. With the help of
Hammer, he secured a deal with Abraham
Ohene Djan (CEO of OM Studios) as Abraham
saw the best in him.
The real hiplife general who has set the pace
for most artistes then came on the hiplife
scene in 1999 with the hit album ‘Pae Mu Ka’
which had 7 tracks such as ‘Yaanom’ and
‘Agoro Na Aso’ after releasing some singles
with Cy Lover which were tried on radio in
1998. In that same year, he featured on Tic
Tac’s ‘Philomina’ track as they were on the
same label and did an advertisement together
for Ashfoam which really shot him more into
fame.
As evidenced by the platinum ‘Pae Mu Ka’
which won an award in the year 2000 and his
tours to Sunyani, Takoradi, Tamale, Kumasi,
Techiman, Koforidua, Bolgatanga and the
likes, Obrafuor’s been more successful and
enduring than most of the ‘cats’ who call
themselves career MCs.
In 2001, the hiplife warrior released another
hit album titled ‘Asemsebe’ which saw him in
London, Holland, Belgium and Germany.
Obrafuor who is considered as a power player
in hiplife came out with ‘Tofa’ in 2003 which
won an award in Canada and won the album
of the year award in London at the Ghana
Music Awards UK 2004.
He has now come to a halt after releasing the
wall breaking album ‘Nteteepa’ in 2003 which
had lovely tracks like ‘Oye Ohene remix’
featuring Tinny and ‘Nteteepa’. Lest I forget, he
won the songwriter of the year at the Ghana
Music Awards 2003 with the ‘Nteteepa’ album
and performed in Canada and USA. In fact, the
shows were something else.
Asked why he has come to a halt, he smiled
and said “I want to produce more young
artistes for some time”. In the year 2004,
Obrafuor’s first produced album titled the
‘Execution Diary’ with artistes like Tinny, Okra,
Kwaw Kesse, Yoggi Doggy, Okyeame Quame,
Dogo, Hot Core on board and his record label
were born. Who doesn’t know this album has
tore Ghana apart?
Recently, he performed in Holland with
Togolese star Meiway and other Ghanaian
artistes like Kwaadee, Sidney on a show which
was put together by Sankofa TV in
Amsterdam. Pumped to frenzy by him, fans
and faithful couldn’t help it but move their feet
for a night of non-stop dancing.
Now pay attention! Obrafuor will be touring
America with the likes of Obuor, Buk Bak,
Nana Quame, Kwaadee in March 2005 and will
also be performing at Miss Ghana New York
next year and sssshhh! he will be out with his
new album in June 2005 after producing Joe
Frazier who will be out next year.
Beyond rhyming, Obrafuor has managed to
penetrate the public consciousness to the
point where his videos rank among the most
memorable ever made. Fresh from performing
in Canada, Obrafuor will never disappoint.
Everywhere you go, his songs still hover in the
air. Heads have really been listening to the
hiplife mentor who has been to where other
hiplife artistes have not.
His songs keep cars ‘bumping’ and heads
nodding. The charismatic dude has enjoyed
tremendous local and international popularity
with his hit albums. To end it all, the ‘supa
dupa’ lyricist is back.
Execution Entertainment’s birth
commemorated a new vision of pursing
projects, based on unselfish reasons. Its first
task was to sensitize the Ghanaian public on
indiscipline; hence it supported the Vice
President’s campaign against Indiscipline,
where Obrafour did a sound track ‘Ntetie Pa’,
which subsequently enjoyed more than
massive airplay.

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