Musical producer

Producer/DJ Rampage puts a new spin on Sierra Leonean music

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Sierra Leone-music-producer-DJRampage10.jpeg

A new school of Sierra Leonean designers is born in Freetown. The movement is led by young Millennials who use the country’s traditional music to create Afrobeats hits with distinct Sierra Leonean DNA.

Idris Elba, Sabrina Elba and DJ Rampage in London – July 2022

A musician inspired by Freetown ɔl insai tin syncretic musical style is Reginald “DJ Rampage” Daramy, a multi-instrumentalist, producer and disc jockey. He’s the mastermind behind Drizilikthe new top of the charts “Achobi” scrapbook and “Shukubly”. Before DJ Rampage made beats for Drizilik and Idris Elba “to get low”, he spent his childhood enchanted by the Oje (ojeh) music of igbales Lewis and Naiambana streets.

a young Reginald

“Even though I was intimidated by the where, their music has always called me to the streets. The percussion, call and response, and cultural display were unmatched! When I close my eyes, I can now play these melodies from memory.

Music was also present at home. Rampage is as close to Salone musical royalty as it gets. His maternal grandfather Ekaw Porter was the main drummer for the 70s sensation Highlife Afro national. They toured the world in their heyday with hits like King Jimmy, Sonjo and Mother In Law. Rampage’s mother, Rosaline Porter, is also a singer. At the time, she was the principal soprano of the 100 Voices Mass Choral at the British Council.

Reginald and Ernest Allan in Ballanta

At the age of 15, he began learning to play the keyboard at Heaven on Earth Ministries under the tutelage of Ernest Allan. The latter was also a member of the Ballanta Academy of Music. He noted Rampage’s interest and commitment to music and invited him to Ballanta.

“When I got there, I felt out of place. I despised myself because the people of Ballanta were advanced; many had studied music. The first time I heard Block Jones sing, my jaw fell in. I had never heard anyone sing with so much vocal technique.

Founded in 1995, Dangling is the only music and performing arts school in Sierra Leone. In addition to orchestra, ballet and gospel lessons, it has an entertainment orchestra made up of the best musicians of the academy. It takes months, sometimes years, for the band to make room for new performers.

In Ballanta, Rampage learned three instruments. He plays keyboard, bass, acoustic guitar and percussion.

“There were seven keyboard players in the band. When I had my first chance to play, I gave it my all. From the first try, I made the group.

Rampage remembers seeing Drizilik play for the first time during this time.

“There was an event at Alafia Point, and Ballanta manager Ernest Allan was the judge. Benji (Drizilik) had a hip-hop set. He did well, so Allan invited him to come to Ballanta. We didn’t play hip-hop music in the band, but I thought we needed it, so I made sure to bring Benji in.

Drizilik went to Ballanta but had to wait a long time for the opportunity to open with the band. There was no guarantee that he would get a spot in the group. Rampage says Drizilik was impatient.

“He suggested that we train alone; myself, Benji and Antonia Howard, now AYV news presenter. Eventually, Benji had a set at Ballanta’s Bafa Night, which landed him a 30-minute hip-hop set on the academy band.

The relationship between the two musicians has gone from acquaintances to friends, and now Rampage says they are as good as brothers. But beyond friendship, they maintain a permanent musical collaboration.

“People who don’t understand us say that I just want to work with Benji as if I’m related to him. But that’s not it. He’s dedicated to his craft. He doesn’t just make music because it’s trending. He’s got a vision and a purpose. So am I. We’ve seen a lot of people in music rise to the top and then fall. We both want longevity and growth. So when people say, ‘I don’t want to I don’t want to work with them, that’s not it. I don’t want to work with someone who doesn’t match my dynamism.

Rampage spent four years in Ballanta. It was there that he honed the persona of the stage party life that now serves as his DJ. When he plays an instrument, he is full of energy, singing and dancing as if he were “unleashed”; this is how he got his nickname. His progression from instrumentalist to music producer was natural. He has several successful collaborations, including Issa’s goal», released in 2018; “I love women,” and “Everlasting love”.

He produced the two Drizilik albums, shukubly in 2018 and Ashobi, which came out earlier this month. Whereas ashobi has international producers from Ghana and Nigeria, Rampage brought the sound of Sierra Leone.

Rampage and Drizilik in London to promote the Ashobi album

“With Ashobi, I tried to tap into the melodies in my head. The hunting, bubu and oje music of my childhood.

The producer struggled to make indigenous Salone music when we started making the album in Ghana in 2019. But Benji and I want to make music that sounds like home.

Rampage composed the music for “ashobiInfatuationFana Makitand “Awujo, the four great Salone-sounding tracks on the album. He also served as its executive producer, overseeing the entire project from start to finish.

Rampage is confident and intentional about both the music he makes and his DJ career.

“I’m open to music from all over the world, but my goal is to sell the Sierra Leonean sound. Yes, Afrobeats is the new wave, but when I do it, it needs a cultural identity with either a vocal sample or an instrument that is Salone recognizable.

Rampage is trying to change the DJ culture in Sierra Leone when he’s not making beats. Inspired by DJ Khaled and Neptune, he books gigs as a celebrity DJ.

“If others can make a living from DJing elsewhere, so can I. I am the ‘Corporate DJ’. When I show up at a DJ party, you get a producer with hit songs, an artist, and someone who follows social media.

When Rampage arrives to DJ an event, he shows up dressed in brand new. He is wearing a suit. Her dreadlocks are neatly pulled back. He says he is particularly mindful of his appearance because creatives, especially DJs, are often overlooked and underpaid.

“I’ve done parties where people spend 60 million leones ($5,000) on drinks but want to pay the DJ (after 8-12 hours of work) 500,000 ($40). Or even worse, they don’t want to not pay you at all Aw yu sel yu sef na so dem go bai yu, and I know my worth.

Over the years, he turned down attractive gigs because they told him he was “too expensive.”

“It’s just that they’ve never paid a DJ so much. But I know my worth, and unlike those looking to make a quick buck, DJing is my job.

Rampage is currently in England, playing club nights in London and Reading. Next comes a set with Drizilik and Freetown Uncut at the Freedom Festival in Hull. He’ll be playing multiple instruments for two days while DJing and doing what he does best: making music “on the run”.