By JR Valrey, The Minister of Information
In late July, I was the road manager for Tony, Toni, Tone in Ghana while they participated in Panfest which is a festival consisting of performers and intellectuals, with the purpose of bringing the continent and diaspora together to begin to discuss how we can “accomplish what we will”, in the words of the late great Marcus Garvey.
One of the people that I was glad that I met, was the talented multimedia media man, Kobby King from Visnec Global and The Shift 360 Studios. He is a media pioneer in the rapidly developing African nation of Ghana. With media playing a big part in the psychological well-being of a modern day human being, it is important to know some of the heavy hitters in Ghanaian media as well as African media, in general, that are working towards bringing the continent and diaspora together. Just as important as it is for Black people in the U.S., as well as the rest of the diaspora to have a voice in the Pan Afrikan discussion, we must also hear the voices of Pan Afrikanist on the continent, and Kobby King is one such voice.
With Africa being one of the last frontiers of modern day music, and particularly Hip Hop, Kobby King’s voice will become even louder on the international scale in the future. Get on the train early, and check out this conscious modern day media mogul in his own words, straight from Accra.
JR Valrey: Can you tell the people how you became employed at Visnec Global media company, and how you became the media director?
Kobby King: Well, it was based on a recommendation. The company was already set up, but it needed someone who could drive it in the right direction. I didn’t personally know the CEO, but someone that knows my work suggested me to the CEO. We spoke, agreed to terms, and that was how it happened. I became the media director for VISNEC Global .
JR Valrey: What is it that you currently do?
Kobby King: I am the CEO for THE SHIFT 360 studios which will be launched soon, and also an artist business manager. I am also the host for The Shift, a program designed to tell the stories of the journey of Africans in the diaspora, promote Black business, and also address issues relating to us (Black people). We’re one people.
JR Valrey: We met when you did an interview with Tony Toni Tone in Accra in late July, how long have you had your show and what kinds of things do you cover?
Kobby King: So taking you back in time, I did a lot of research about how Black people ended up in America, and the Caribbean on the other side of the world. I had to research, because obviously we were not taught in school about slavery and it’s outcomes. From that I started thinking about how I can help brothers and sisters from the diaspora, who made an effort to repatriate or visit Africa.
In 2015 and 2016, I hosted 25 to 30 people which included groups, families, couples, individuals etc in my home, in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region for free. That is where I am originally from. I also helped some of them start their businesses. So to fast forward to 2019, the government of Ghana launched the “Year of Return “ initiative, which was very good, but still there was something lacking. I realized, even though a lot of people were coming from the diaspora, they did not have a voice within the media. And the media being the 4th, and one of the most powerful organs of government, I thought it was wise to come up with something that can help Black people from the diaspora to have a voice, and to tell their narratives in their own way. And with their own voice create the balance, since most of the media outlets out here are focused on other things rather than the relevant. And that is what THE SHIFT 360 is all about: education, entertainment, promoting Black businesses, changing our narrative, strengthening ties between continentals and diasporans, etc.
JR Valrey: What does Ghana need from the international community to expand its international media presence?
Kobby King: Ghana needs mostly resources ranging from human (the right people in the right positions), infrastructure, and collaborative strategies to help push our media presence to the next level.
JR Valrey: Why does Ghana put American music above its own? How do you think that affects Ghana’s music industry?
Kobby King: American music has been prevalent in our music scene since time immemorial, and not only in Ghana, but all over the world. But inasmuch as it’s here, we still have other genres we developed, and still vibe to like Highlife/Hilife (Mother of Afrobeats ) music, which was developed as a result of introducing foreign instruments like trumpets and guitars into our cultural / traditional music like Adowa, Kete, Kpalogo and also Hiplife, which is a blend of Hilife and Hip Hop (which also originated from Black America).
I think now things are changing. Afrobeats is taking over the world, and people are accepting Ghanaian/African music more than before.
JR Valrey: I know that you are the manager for one of west Africa’s biggest producers, Mix Master Garzy, how did that relationship start?
Kobby King: I was recommended to Mix Master Garzy in 2015, when he was on a radio/club tour with one of his artists. I was a promoter then. He called me at the last minute of their preparation and I was able to put together a good tour, and that was how the brotherhood began.
JR Valrey: Where do you see Ghana’s music industry in the next 5 years?
Kobby King: In the next 5 years, I am looking forward to more collaborations and a boost in the music business sector here. Music is a culture on its own. I think this will also help bridge the gap between continentals and diasporans. It’s happening already, I see the change. It’s not like it used to be, it’s getting better, and I know it will be greater with time.
JR Valrey: Where do you see Ghana’s media landscape in 5 years?
Kobby King: I think if more creative and collaborative initiatives are put in place, there will be a great change which will be beneficial to us. We should take a critical look at the media, because it is a very powerful tool that can be used for our development. There is an idea I am drafting which will be discussed in our next interview called BOND ( Black Owned Network for Development). A great initiative that I want for all of us to be involved in.
JR Valrey: How can people access your radio show? When does it come on? How can people stay online with you?
Kobby King: Date for the premiering of the new episodes The Shift will be communicated soon, it will be aired on YouTube @theshift360 and on my Facebook page @kobby_true_king . And you can follow on Instagram @theshift360 or @kobby_true_king for updates.
The podcast version of the Shift will also be available on iTunes, Spotify, etc. @theshift360.
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