We Are In The War (LP)

Prince Buju

MR 13 ● LP ● 2015


Prince Buju: kologo, voice

In The War

I met Prince Buju in January 2014 in King Ayisoba’s bar in North Kanishie, a neighbourhood on the north side of the bigger Accra. He was introduced as a kologo player and singer and a really good friend of King Ayisoba. Those days I was running from studio to studio and organising the visa for King Ayisoba and his band, but in the evenings we would sit just outside the bar, in a dark corner, where King Ayisoba and his friends could sit and smoke their medicine. Most of the time one of the kologo players would play and there I filmed Prince Buju performing a wild version of his song “In The War”. The next day I filmed another song by him in King Ayisoba’s house. I filmed many kologo players, especially on that crazy day of King Ayisoba’s video-CD release in the Cultural Centre of Kumasi where more than twenty different kologo players performed and where I also played a few songs in front of more than two thousand, mostly Frafra, people. I went home with films and recordings of many great musicians.

Two months later I picked up King Ayisoba and his band from Schiphol, the Amsterdam airport, to start another big tour in Europe. I found a really good deal with a van dealer and got a nice van that had a cassette player! The guy who rented it out said he forgot to change it but if I passed by he would do it in five minutes. I said we would be fine. I have plenty cassettes at home and I was hoping the Ghanaians were bringing some too since I asked them to. They did, including a cassette from Prince Buju called “Roots and Culture Music”. It’s the cassette we ended up playing the most, by far. Grrrt, the sound engineer for the tour who also co-runs the Red Wig label, and me fell totally in love with the direct, rough and pushing sound of the cassette. Some songs almost turn into techno if you let your mind wander off.

Back in Accra King Ayisoba told Prince Buju about the two European fans he had and soon enough I got a message about the idea of working on a record. Prince Buju wanted his new hit song “In The War” also to be on, and who doesn’t. So he set down to record it and together with most of the songs of that legendary cassette it became the album you have in your hands now.

“In The War” is the song that points out reality in the world today. We are all in the war, and Prince Buju is telling us we would do better if we do not fight but unite. A good coincidence is that in the Dutch language “in de war” means being confused.

Prince Buju has a rough and direct voice and is singing emotional songs about loss and disaster, about war and hate and he is telling the people that they should realise and change their ways. It’s 2015 and with only two strings and one grinding voice he cuts through borders and languages and reaches the rest of the world. I am really happy that it is possible to bring this traditional music of the 21st century to the ears in Europe and hopefully many other parts of the world. I feel honoured.

— Arnold de Boer, Amsterdam, February 2015.


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