He is tooted by many as being one of the prolific music producers in Ghana. Since the inception and acceptance of hip life music in Ghana, he is one producer who started with the starters and is still surviving, churning out not just hits, but artists and iconic stars as well.
Born and named Edward Nana Poku Osei, he got his nickname, Hammer, because he could dance very well. He danced to an MC Hammer tune during homos night at his first year at PRESEC, Legon, to earn this nickname. He has responded to this nickname since then.
Back in school, he loved music. He loved making beats with next to any available surface. He loved and cherished his walkman. His dad seized it during a visit at school. The student Hammer broke boundaries and went home, broke his father’s bedroom door and retrieved his walkman and returned to boarding school on the same day. He has always loved beats. It’s how he expresses his emotions. All his beats have themes and reasons. He calls his beats his stories. A musician loves his lyrics and truly relates to them. Hammer loves his beats and sincerely relates to them to the extent that if he produces a beat for an artist and the beat does not get to the public domain, as it was intentioned for, he gets very upset. He is not moved to make beats because an artist is on his neck with lyrics and only wants beats for beats sake. The stories he tells with his beats are usually of hurt and anger and frustration. He loves to go to war in his beats. War sounds are heavy and rapturous. They come with rhythmic consistency. They have heavy drums and particular victory instruments.
He was at PRESEC with his childhood best friend, Yaw Opare Anoff. Yaw’s nickname was Deep. All called him Deep. Hammer turned the letters in Yaw around. It spelt Way which was then added to Deep. He became known as Way Deep, also a music producer. Together these two PRESECANS believed they were the last two to turn Ghana music around. They started calling themselves the last two. Hammer was going to do the hip-hop beats and Way Deep was going to do the rhythm and blues. Just when the young lads took this decision, Way Deep’s dad had other plans. He now lives in the USA. He still makes music. Hammer stayed in Ghana, got the music production started and decided to maintain the name THE LAST TWO as a tribute to his friendship with Way Deep. They are still on very good terms, more like best friends for life.
As with every educated man, the last thing on his child’s mind must center on school. After secondary school, Hammer wanted to go into music and start producing his beats right after. His parents wanted higher education for him but he simply wanted to pursue his way of expressing his emotions, his passion, his beats. With a banker for a father, it was really difficult for the young Hammer to convince his learned dad that he wanted to make music. At least not in those times Ghana. He continued to make his beats. He was able to convince his mother to pay for studio time for him. He made and recorded the beats, just for pleasure.
As fate would have it, Obrafour, a young upcoming musician in the hip life genre was looking for a different feel and vibe to the album he was preparing to come out with. Reggie Rockstone was rapping. There were Akyeame and a few others. It was during this search for a new vibe that someone who knew Hammer from school told Obrafour about the beat maker with a difference. Obrafour was able to get to Hammer. They talked and eventually he agreed to produce this historic album(pae mu ka)which went on to become the highest selling hiplife album ever in Ghana.
Hammer is a very different producer. No. He is the actual description of a producer in Ghana. A beat maker or record producer has to sit with the musician right from the inception of the lyrics to their arrangement and packaging. This is hardly the case in Ghana. Here, the musician gets his lyric and pays for a beat to be done. On Obrafour, Hammer produced the beats, explained the stories behind each beat to Obrafour, just so the lyrics and the beat will tell the same story. They worked together on the album for some time and when the album was released, it took over the Ghanaian airwaves. The beats were different; the style of Obrafour’s rap was different. More like they were what people had been waiting for. It came with a bang and held fort for a long time. This album made money for the youngsters and people started associating them as the Last Two. No, the Last Two are Hammer and Way Deep.
Hammer is an artist. His beats are his acts. If a good song will sell, Hammer believes good beats will sell no matter the language barrier. After all, Ghanaians love the sounds of Angelique Kidjo, Makeba and Hugh Masekela. How many Ghanaians understand their languages? This is to hit on the facts about to be stated below.
After Obrafour’s album, Hammer did not want to associate with him for long. He felt he had finished his job with Obrafour. He had brought him to the public and built him as a musician. He was one of the pioneers of rap in Akan. Hammer aka Nana Poku wanted a challenge. He still believed that good beats will sell no matter the language. Just when Obrafour had come up as a Twi artist, and despite how next to easy it would have been for Hammer to bring another Twi artist, and to make obvious money for himself, he decided to breakaway. He wanted a challenge. He was convinced he could live up to a challenge. After co producing a few hits here and there, like Alampine(Jay Dee), Deeba and Obrafo’s 2nd album, Hammer worked with Tinny. The young man initially wanted to come out with Twi, as it would have been easy for him and for his career. But the John-the-Baptist-producer called Hammer was so convinced and felt so much challenge for himself that he insisted Tinny plies his trade in Ga. The young Tinny was not buying into the idea. His parents got involved to help convince Hammer to allow Tinny do Twi because they all believed it was the laguauge with the highest audience among the local languages. Then, all the successful hiplife albums were in Twi. Hammer still said a well grounded no. He went on and produced the album, which later became the biggest and only successful Ga album up to date. He had built Obrafour for Twi, he was going to build Tinny for Ga. Well he did. Tinny came out with Ga and Hammer’s prophecy was unfolding. Tinny became an instant hit and an icon for the Gas. In fact, I cast my mind back to 2002 to present and there have been a number of Ga artists but none have been as consistent as Tinny. He is an icon. Again, Hammer’s job was done.
When you are good at noticing a potential and growing it, you are never scared to take up challenges. You are never scared to let go of your cash cows because you know you will definitely find a calf somewhere who you can groom to give you milk. Nana Poku, after Tinny’s first, felt it was time for yet another challenge. He wanted another icon, another notification for a different tribe. He cast his net and this time, it entangled the mad Kwaw Kesse. He was also groomed and made to believe that if you have good material, you can always break away from the status quo and still make it. The Fante boy was made to record his music in Fante. Hammer builds icons out of mere people. He had built Obrafour for Twi, Tinny for Ga and now he was building Kwaw for Fante. He discovered Kwaw and put him on one of his compilations. Kwaw recorded in Fante and when he came out, he became sensational. Everybody calls him madman. He responds to that. But in all his madness, he will tell you never to joke with Uncle Hammer’s beats.
Akan is a very common language in Ghana and particularly Accra. Fante is closer to Twi, though there are a lot of differences. Ga is the major language in Accra but Twi is widely spoken. When he came with the icons of these tribes, people related. Now the Ewe language is particular to the Volta Region and the country Togo. Not a lot of people understand the language. It is quite a difficult language,(I stand to be corrected) for many to learn. On one compilation, Hammer recognized potential in the young man called
Edem, an Ewe. Instantly, his convictions got to work. He knew he had found the next big thing. When he was recording Tinny, he got a bit of opposition as to whether he will make it or not. Even in studios, where the music were being produced, he was still getting negative vibes. If Tinny’s outing saw negativity, Edem’s outing saw a no chance at all situation. Yet like the prophet he is, he knew what he had found in the young man who later came out with the name Ayigbe Edem.
Hammer threw all warnings and held onto his conviction. He just knew he had found the next star, the icon for the Ewes. Jay Foley is
a young beat producer whose father paid for him to be trained by Hammer. Being with the man for some time, he had learnt about the man’s taste. Jay Foley discovered Ayigbe Edem in 2006, took the young man to Hammer and told him, ‘Hammer, I have found something(talent) you will like’. Edem did a freestyle and that was where Hammer realized the potential. After 3 yrs in the Last Two camp, The Volta Regime album was born in January 2009. Indeed, the outing of this album has served as the beginning of a regime of Ewe-loving music. It has gone down in history as the most successful Ewe album ever, gathering seven nominations in the Ghana Music Awards(2010) and also securing Edem an endorsement deal with a major telecommunications company.
When I asked Edem why he hadn’t moved on after his debut like all the other iconic stars, he said “grooming and production are not the only trades this great man pocesses and I intend to learn a lot from him as long as he breathes and I also want to take care of him as he has, of me”. Hammer is very different from the other producers in Ghana at the moment. He searches, sees potential and grooms his artists. He invests a lot of resources especially into his compilations. They are a serious risk as none of the artists are
know. Only underground artists are featured on his compilations. He does not assemble a host of already made stars on a compilation. He works for the underground guys. They love him and he loves them back. If Hammer does not bring the underground artists to the fore, how will they get to be featured on others’ compilations? This is one of the differences.
The second difference is that he does not produce commercial beats. He does not compete with any producer on this. He gets his
unknown artist with potential, he grooms and prepares them, produces the beats, explains the beats and why he used which instruments and records are made. Occasionally helping with lyric arrangement, Hammer will go down in history as one of the best producers ever.
Hammer has never been awarded or specially recognized for all these feats because he always wants to keep these feats to himself. He has dared to be different. He has survived the test of time. He deserves an applause, an award, a standing ovation!