Spotlight
Hammer of the Last 2 - Sound Engineer & Beat Master

Hammer

How be Chale?
How be
Firstly, how did you get the nickname Hammer?
I got it on Homo’s night in Presec. I danced to one MC Hammer’s popular songs and everyone was flowing me “Hammer, Hammer, Hammer”. I did the boogie really well.

We all know you as Hammer, but what is your real name?
I go by Edward Nana Poku Osei.

Oh so that name I see on Obrafour’s albums is you! Anyway, what is your age, hometown and tell us about your family?
I am 28, was born on 27th March 1976. I hail from Asante Mampong, never really been there. My father is Jones Ababio Osei, banked at GCB for 38 years. My mother is Marian Osei who works at the fishing harbor. I am the 3rd boy in a family of 3 boys and 3 girls.

Where have you been in your educational ladder?
I was in St. Theresa’s, Achimota primary, and then I proceeded to Presec where I was till O level and form 5. I am in the class of 1994. I read business, same courses; economics, accounting, etc.

What were your interests and activities in Presec?
I ran 100 meters for House 1, yes Kwansa. I performed with the original school dancers with Joe B, (u heard of Joe B) Bigas, Bebe, and Francis Afraim.

Have you heard that a lot of Presecans rap these days, almost every dorm has its own rapper?
These days the Presecans rap, in my time, we danced.

Which teachers do you particularly remember?
I remember Kotey, he was my school father. I also recall Mr. Asamoah, Mr. Nyanteh, Mrs. Ankrah (Snr Asst Headmistress) and Mr. Apeadu.

Any old, bitter or sweet memories from Presec?
Yeah, I remember one time I was ‘cheeing’ (breaking bounds) and the school gate was locked or so, so I crashed my car into the administration block. The board of governors was having a meeting there.
My dance team performed at the assembly hall. Then I be the only junior in da dance team. I used to play drum music on Presec tables. Then I dey take singlet go deehall, I dey bore everybody. I cause too much.
Kotey didn’t know that then I dey cause. I was parking my motorbike at Drivers; I bought it in form 3. I ate at Goase a lot. I remember the food at the cafeteria (he means canteen) became just like that of the Dhall so I didn’t eat there.

Did you do a lot mountain climbing, as in going to Abugiss?
Nah, I went to Motown a lot, Holy Child and Cape Coast in particular.

Any positions in school?
I was the class prefect in form 2 and 3.

Interesting, what are your present impressions about Presec?
I closed Presec’s gate after I left. The Presec boarding house is the best ever. I learnt more from there than the classroom. I learnt a lot in Presec. I like the way Presecans dey relate to each other. I still see Presec as good and great and my children would go there if they were old.

Oh, tell us about your nuclear family then?
My fiancée is Nana Basoah Konadu; she is from New York (laughter). I have a small girl, Nana Yaa who is seven months.

How did you get interested in entertainment?
I wanted to tell my stories, express my emotional feelings and narrate my youth hood. All my beats talk about my mood. Actually, making beats was a hobby. Beats had to become a career, because I wasn’t into school. I enjoy my job, a lot of people don’t enjoy theirs.

How did you get started?
In 1997, I got 80G and paid to use the Pan African Orchestra studio at Circle. I played the keyboard, using simple keys and the music got complicated after the songs were finished. I never had piano lessons. I don’t have a radio, don’t listen to music. I have the songs in my head.
I started Last 2 (the recording studio) in 1996 with Deep, Yaw Opare Anoff. He was sacked in 1994 from Presec. These two who were Last 2 were supposed to raise the level of sound music in Ghana. Deep had other plans and is in the states. Last 2 was a unit, Deep in rhythm & blues and Hammer in hip hop.
One Edward Adu Mensah brought Obrafour to me and we clicked. After meeting the Rap Sofour, I entered into hiplife. I want to be known for grooming artistes. I don’t like already made artistes. Obrafour, Deeba and Tinny have all collected new artistes of the year.
Hush Hush Studios is where I mix the music. I rent the place. Just recently, 233 for Ghana, Sammi B’s Channel O programme interviewed me and my parents want to encourage me to go higher, so I may build my own studio.

Who is in Last 2 now?
There is Melvin (Nii Mantse) and myself. Shushu Bampoe, a cousin of Sammi B who went to Akosec completes our click. Nii Mantse went to Presec, class of 96 or so and has been saying the signatures, like Last 2 etc.

Oh so he has been talking plenty! Hammer, talk about production and sound engineering and its industry in Ghana.
I have achieved a lot but have not found success. So many beats started sounding alike and there was too much pressure. My hobby became work. It was a donkey job, taking energy and time and wasn’t getting much, cost 2 million for a song beat. I get ideas for music videos after beats so I want to make my own album. It is better to sell cassette and CD rights, make that money and then share the profit amongst producers, artistes, etc.

Tell us about your own music and your compilation album.
There are a number of music genres, hip hop, hiplife and last 2. Last 2 is a separate music genre. The album is a compilation of songs from the boys in my camp; I call them foot soldiers, people I am grooming. I school them in rap; develop their style, perfect timing, conciseness, etc. The artistes wrote the lyrics and I did the beats and produced the music. The Last 2 camp creates the lyrics together. The foot soldiers freestyle after the beat is done, and then the song gets ready.
The album is called ‘Sounds of our time’. There will be volumes for different times. 10 years from now, if you wanted sounds of yesteryears, those sounds would be those to listen to.
I have already brought the best Twi rapper (Obrafour) and ga rapper (Tinny). I am bringing the best ewe rappers called Agbeko and Paxy. Musicians featured on the album include Kwaw Kese, Agbeko and Paxy, Okra Tom, Dogo, Tinny and Mmotia.
The compilation is about myself and the stories I want to tell. The beat does the talking but I can’t even express what I am saying, it is deep.

What is the future of your (Ghanaian) music and its potential?
I want to be separated from hiplife and hip hop. I am inspired by Pan African Orchestra, who use traditional instruments like xylophones and flutes. I want a monopoly. I want my music to be accepted as a way of life like a phone. I want to influence people.
I have a name for every beat. Some are time (Oye Ohene remix- Obrafour), the word (KgPm), Nuclear war (Oye nonsense- Kwaw Kese). That’s why Melvin mentions the names of the beats at the beginning of every song. He introduces the beat (anthem), artistes and himself.

What is up with Deep?
I don’t hear of Deep anymore, there is a grudge. I am writing a song to invite him back, because the Ghanaian public feels his absence. He is needed to do highlife and rhythm and blues songs.

What do you think about the music lyrics and messages these days?
I influence the lyrics that come out in my work. I furnish and perfect them. How to rhyme an things! I make them talk about love, poverty, etc. I don’t really care about the lyrics and what people say, whether it is profane or not, moral or not. You either buy or don’t buy, listen or don’t listen.

Do you have any present engagements and works?
I am a consultant for Rox Energy Drink, I do consulting for beats, etc. I am their link to entertainment. There are others that are not yet active.

What are your hobbies and pastimes?
I watch a lot of movies, that’s all I do. I want to direct movies; I find so many faults with the movie industry here. Movie production in West Africa is bad (the Nigerians only act better) and I want to change it. People always want to finish the film production early, and don’t care about the movie’s quality.
You would hear my beats in movies. I have been scoring movies. I scored Bloody Streets by Artisan Pictures in the USA. I mean, the blows, sad scene, club scene, wind, everything. Smash TV interviewed me about the film, last year. I got to work with them through the Hush Hush owner, Johnny Eshun. He has a Hush Hush studio in New York where people go to record there and another in Ivory Coast.

What are your comments about dormant Odadee?
If I make some money, I would give Presec some speakers. “Donated by Hammer of the Last 2” would be the inscription. I don’t go to night clubs. I don’t like noise. I only like the noise in the studio.

How can Ghanaian music expand and sell outside?
We should spend more time on the sounds. The quality of the work matters. When you got to the Kora Awards, Kidjo and Olomide perform and you feel the quality of the sounds. The same cannot be said for Ghanaian artistes. Here in Ghana, we rush sounds out of the studio. We have good ideas with cheap quality of sound. I will not mention names, but some musicians and engineers want their money quickly. Highlife can go, far, Kojo Antwi and Rex Omar dems. Hiplife is like hip hop, people in New York would not buy rap in Twi but once the highlife tunes go far, hiplife would follow.

Do you have a website?
Yeah, www.hammerlasttwo.com is that of the Last 2. I have a different company called Acid rain under the Last 2 that does the music videos. It is online at www.acidrainhammer.com . Both websites are down though.

Give us your Parthian shot.
I learnt a whole lot in Presec, and I would encourage Presecans to take their lives seriously.

Do you have any shout outs to old mates and Odadee?
Yeah, send my greetings to Bernard Boye, Ali Baba, Yaw Osae and Kizito.

Interviewed by Clue, Odadee 2001



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