They boast the biggest fan base in the emergent Sierra Leone music industry. Rapper Alhaji Bankaria Bah aka LAJ of Red Flag Movement (RFM), and Amara Turay aka Kao Denero of Black Leo, are bitter rivals. Their years of rivalry have even resulted into loss of lives and properties. There have been many failed attempts to unite the two groups. (Photo: l-r rappers, LAJ, and Kao Denero)
It even took President Ernest Bai Koroma to summon the two artists to State House last year where he mediated between them in an attempt to resolve the more than four years dispute. The president conferred on both award winning rappers the title of ‘Peace Ambassador’, challenging them to choose peace over ‘war’.
A year on following that State House brokered peace treaty, the two rappers are again set to clash; that is if action is not taken urgently to settle a seeming misunderstanding between their respective camps.
The two groups are set to pull the biggest crowd in the next few weeks, at separate occasions scheduled for the National stadium.
SaloneJamboree sought to look into what this means for the peace and how long they have come
Industry leaders commended both artists for their commitment to peace following President Koroma`s intervention in their fracas.
The ‘Godfather’ of Sierra Leone music Jimmy Yeanie Bangura (Jimmy B) was at hand to commend the president for what he described as great move in brokering the peace.
Bangura said at the time that beefing had been given a serious blow.
“Personally, I think it will work this time. I have had one on one meeting with both artists, I see it in their characters that they are genuine,” he said.
Further reinforcing hopes that peace had at last arrived, the two artists went on to share the same stage in musical concerts in and outside Sierra Leone. They even composed songs together promoting peace.
But all this risks flying in the faces of those who have shown concern about the situation if mounting tensions ahead of the April concerts at the National Stadium are not arrested.
LAJ told SaloneJamboree in an interview from Lungui Airport, as he awaited his flight to the United States, that he had never turned back his word to the President.
The award winning hip hop act however admitted that there were tensions behind the scene and that there was course for alarm.
Explaining further, LAJ said that the RFM and Black Leo stadium concerts would likely spark up another problem. Why?
He said he was the first artist to release a date [April 27th] for his concert at the venue to “cut my country’s birthday cake.”
The ‘Money Nar Bank’ star said everyone has the right to do a show at the National Stadium but questioned the intent of the Black Leo to stage a similar concert at the stadium in the same month.
The rapper said not only do they both do the same genre of music, but they also have the biggest fan base which is made up of mostly the youths.
Anything, he added, can happen ahead of the promotions for these shows.
A blunt LAJ said: “I don’t have any problem with Kao Denero but it seems like the way things are going; he is trying to create problem… The idea is for the authorities to ban my show…”
LAJ therefore called on the authorities to pay great attention to the month of April and to provide both camps with adequate security.
Kao, while confirming that he was indeed staging his concert at the same venue in the same month, denied intending any harm.
The ‘King of Freetown’ said work was ongoing for his ‘Back 2 My Roots’ album.
“I am sure April 6th would be a night you won’t forget in the history of hip hop music in Sierra Leone,’ he said.
Kao added that his fans requested for the stadium concert. “They wanted a bigger venue for a Kao Denero concert and I gave it to them.”
“If anybody who is honest and has been following events in the Sierra Leone music industry, they will attest to the fact that Kao Denero always releases his albums every April… So I am just carrying on a tradition brother,” the rapper stressed.
“I am not coming to my country to revive any past history with fellow acts. As you can see for yourself, I have just concluded a world tour ranging from traveling to Australia, Holland and Canada for sold out concerts. My fans have been missing my presence in the land I love so much, and I believe it`s time to come home proudly with a passport that’s mine and with a name that matches my fingerprints,” Kao said in this interview from his base in the USA.
He added: “With the respect I have for our leader, I warmly embraced the responsibility (Peace Ambassador) given to me and I promised to keep the peace as always.”
However, entertainment pundits say Black Leo and Red Flag beefing might not have been visible in the streets but several of their songs released recently suggest a continuation of the animosity between them.
“The war might not be on the street right now but it has since been going on with their lyrics and comments on Facebook through their Status on the social networks and group discussions. We are waiting to see how this whole drama is going to end. The Black Leo, RFM concerts will put to test the one year peace deal,” one observer opined
SaloneJamboree will keep you posted on this story.