Paapa Mister Max is a Ghanaian born artist living in the UK. His music is really off the charts. The first time I heard something of his, it took me a minute to realize I was listening to a Ghanaian. The quality of the sound, the fluidity of his delivery and the artist plus commercial appeal of his music is just phenomenal. What is even better, is when time passes and I listen to the same track again, I get the same reaction – wow, dude is really good. I say every single time I listen to his record.
Mister Max is that good.
So what’s his deal? What’s the story? At what point did he realize he had something within him that was dying to be born?
Check it out.
How would you describe what you do now – the music?
My focus with respect to the music I make can be categorized as hip-hop music. It is far from what people may term as cliché as I avoid the usual misogynistic lyrical content and focus on intellectual and feel good music. I make sure the music I make on the whole can relate to a wide range of people and not necessarily falling within the usual stereotypes associated with hip-hop music. It is an art form, and as such with any skill, I place quality above all and use that as the differentiating factor and the unique selling point.
2. What were you doing before? What did you go to school to do? Or if you’re in school, what are you studying?
Music has been a part of my life. It is something I enjoy thoroughly and a means to unveiling my varying emotions. I use it as a channel to escape stress and enter a whole new creative life form. I am currently a Business Consultant and in order to give you a feel of my educational background I’ll start with my bachelor’s degree. My first degree was a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Law after which I pursued an MBA in International Business and Global Marketing Management. In order to combine my business and legal background, I decided to take a Law programme gearing towards the Bar in 2011. On the whole, I guess it has been a combination of work, school and a bit of music.
3. What motivated you to follow your dreams? The turning point, the ‘aha’ moment.
I started unprofessionally in 1995 whilst at Achimota Secondary School with a group of childhood friends. We went by the name Phunkadelix and performed all over Accra, entered a number of competitions and pretty much gained ‘notoriety’ in the various Senior Secondary schools. It was an extremely enjoyable phase of my life. However in 2003 together with two friends, Sante and Kay B we formed the group Pak of 3 in London and thereafter I got into my most creative element under the pseudonym Mr. Max. We split up as a group but remain good friends. I had loads of songs I hadn’t yet recorded as I had a knack for writing on the spot. I visited a couple of studios and with the help of some producers created a catalogue of recordings out of which I culled my debut album ‘Safety First’.
4. What are some of the challenges and joys that come with it? Memorable moments?
Creating new music in itself is a challenge. Being accepted by listeners is also another challenge. Another thing you are likely to face is radio stations not necessarily helping to promote your product, regardless of how much work the artist has put into the product or high its quality is. The Ghanaian musical terrain is pretty different as a select few really appreciate hiphop music not in the local dialect. I guess that’s why pidgin seems to be catching on now considering the larger portion of hiphop consumers in Ghana are secondary and tertiary students. However another way of overcoming such challenges would be by collaborating with local artists. This creates a sharing platform as one can leverage on the audience of the other. There is also this notion especially in our society where people regard hip-hop artists as un-educated and having no direction, who just do music, eat, sleep, wake up with no future, and not necessarily exploring their background and potential. It is about time we look past that and embrace it as another art form which could potentially generate a huge amount of income with the right amounts of investment and strategic development. There are currently no viable structures to support the music industry in Ghana so most artists take to online marketing and selling themselves to whoever would listen. My most memorable moments would be opening a show for Akon and also self executive producing, marketing and having a successful debut album launch earlier in January this year. Performing to a group of people who understand you, sing your songs, fill you in when you miss out lyrics and want to be a part of what you are promoting, recognise you when you are out is indeed fulfilling.
5. How do you ‘feed’ your creativity or talent?
My inspiration comes from everyday life. Religion, relationships, wars, the news, a new life, emotions, politics and so much more mould my creativity. It feels refreshing when others also want to hear new material from me. It makes you think ‘Oh I guess I’m doing something right after all.’
6. What are your future plans/dreams?
Well musically, write and support other artists. Professionally focus on building myself as a brand, grow in the corporate world and most importantly, educate my mind.
7. Words of encouragement.
Believe in yourself while understanding you’ll face challenges. Life isn’t a bowl of cherries so seek guidance, have patience and step over the hurdles as they present themselves, that way you would excel in whatever situation you find yourself.
It’s also available on Amazon, emusic.com and other good digital online music stores. In Ghana, the album is available at Silverbird Music and Bookshop at the Accra Mall.