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It was an unremarkable Friday evening in June. I sat across from my road manager – the same guy who told me beer tastes better when someone else is buying – at a local bar. It’s a bar with no signage that we affectionately call “the garden”.

To call it a bar is generous. The garden is, at best, a spot: an unassuming gritty place with plastic chairs, almond trees, an inexpensive sound system, a kiosk, and most importantly for the clientele, cheap booze. On any given evening you will find a random mix of disenchanted elderly men with a distaste for sobriety, and young men with a penchant for staying low-key.

Half the people are too intoxicated to care I’m there and the other half give me friendly dap, shout a line from one of my songs and keep it moving.

The sound of young Ghana, Afrobeats, dominates the playlist at the garden, alongside tunes from our regional cousins in Nigeria. It wasn’t always so. On this unremarkable Friday I’m reminded of this remarkable feat: we have achieved a prolific music scene without a formidable production infrastructure, or the presence of big record labels which can dole out a recording budget to young artists. Underneath the predominantly Auto-Tuned vocals are young voices that want to be heard.

I understand too well the burning desire to have your voice heard even without the backing of a traditional label. About 2005 I had just graduated, with a now dusty economics degree and a tonne of musical aspiration but little knowhow. I took matters into my own hands. Piece by piece I accumulated second-hand recording equipment off Craigslist. My apartment became my studio and in 2007 I released my first album, Manifestations, to much acclaim in Minnesota. Sometimes creativity is simply making a lot out of a little. I smile so broadly when I see my younger compatriots in Ghana adopt the same do-it-yourself approach.

Truth be told, from quaint Saltpond to big city Accra, creative spaces are neither fancy nor spiffy in these parts. Dancefloors are ruled by tunes toasting the glamours of life, tunes that are made in small, bedroom-sized studios, often with broken-down air conditioners rather than platinum discs decorating the walls. Optimists will muse at the irony, cynics will scoff and call it a cruel joke. Both factions would have to acknowledge that a lot of music is being made, regardless.

Our parents’ generation often humblebrag to us about how it was in their day. The plethora of highlife bands, legendary club nights at the Ambassador hotel (now the plush Mövenpick hotel), or how AB Crentsil and the Sweet Talksrecorded their 1978 record Party Time in Hollywood in Los Angeles. And of course they had Osibisa, who were regulars in the charts, and easily the biggest Ghanaian band of all time. Yes, times have changed. They can question our competence but they can’t begrudge us our will and zeal to create in a climate where music is regularly consumed but there is little support for it financially.

I moved back home three and a half years ago after a 10-year sojourn in America. I have not only felt the restlessness of youth here, simmering and festering, I’ve lived it. Frequent power cuts alone (unaffectionately called dumsor) have made music more expensive and frustrating to create. Yet there is an increasing cadre of young hopefuls who invest their lives in creative ventures.

Take, for instance, the Chale Wote street art festival: a colourful yearly arts extravaganza in the heart of Jamestown, a historical neighbourhood along the Accra coastline more famous for its boxers. Chale Wote is an edgy, inclusive and bold initiative that invites artists out of the periphery and encourages young people to unapologetically indulge in homegrown art. Conceived by a pair of visionaries, Mantse Aryeequaye and Sionne Neely, Chale Wote has emerged despite the absence of a big budget.

Art is not a luxury, it’s our identity. It’s our message in a time capsule. It’s our inspiration to break from the humdrum, to know that we can shatter the ceilings of possibility and the frustrations of our daily routines. We’re in desperate need of inspiration to develop our homeland. We want more. No – we need more. We can no longer just cling on to the glories of the Osibisas, El Anatsuis, Ablade Glovers and other greats. We must contribute to shaping the look, feel and spiritual essence of our homeland.

Granted, we have some things to sort out. We’re a generation seemingly more obsessed with commerce than with art. After all “e be art we go chop?” (loosely translated, this pidgin English means, “is it art that will feed us?”). I know many young entrepreneurial visual artists, musicians, fashion designers and filmmakers who make work on shoestring budgets that is magical and can transcend borders.

As I was about to leave the garden my song Forget Dem came on. A group of young guys sang along as loud as they could, eager to let me know they recognised me. I smiled, appreciative.

I contemplate giving them a peek behind the curtain. If only they knew that the song they hear on the radio, which accompanies the music video they see on TV, was recorded in a tiny ghetto studio in Tema. How dumsor rudely interrupted our session, how super producer Killbeatz rented a generator in defiance of the power gods. But I don’t. After all, when it comes to being an artist in Ghana, “nowhere cool” – our way of saying the grass isn’t greener on the other side. Still, we power on, fuelled by passion. Oh the joys of being young, restless and creative in Africa. No stopping us now.

Guardian/Manifest

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Music

Lighter TOD returns with “Only You” ft. Mugeez – WATCH VIDEO!

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Ghanaian rapper Lighter TOD is back with new music –a pleasant Afrobeat jam which features R2Bees member Mugeez.

Titled “Only You”, it was directed by Masta Garzy, and accompanying visuals were directed by J Shotti. Lighter is privately known as Evans Appiah, and is reportedly working on his new album “LIGHTER”!

Watch the video below:

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VIDEO: Taki Taki – Friction & The Raw Rhythm Section

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Ghanaian reggae singer Friction (formerly of hiplife group V.I.P) presents visuals to his recent single Taki Taki.

Backed by the Raw Rhythm Section, the act (born Musah Haruna in Nima – Accra) emphasises the importance of humility in all endeavours of life.

Since leaving V.I.P, he has gone on to record successful albums as Big Trouble, Auntie Serwaa, and Ghetto Blues. Alumnus of the  Fontys Rockacademy (Holland) and leader of the Roots Drivers Band, Friction has performed on several major stages worldwide –over 90 in Europe last year alone.

This year, their tour keeps taking them across boundaries, such as the African Descent Festival in Canada and Festival der Kulturen in Germany.

Taki Taki was directed by Urban Studio. Watch it below:

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Music

“You Do All” – Samini APPLAUDS Shatta Wale as they freestyle LIVE ON AIR

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Reggae/dancehall star Emmanuel Samini, simply known by his surname, was on Starr FM’s Starr Chat Wednesday August 16, discussing his life and musical journey (which started in 2004).

Responding to questions posed to him by host and EIB Network CEO Bola Ray, he addressed a number of touch issues including Marijuana use, his beef with Shatta Wale, his personal life, his forthcoming 7th studio album, among others.

On his take on the use of the Marijuana, the Linda star opined that as it was legal elsewhere, the country could capitalise on it and grow it in commercial quantities for foreign income specifically:

“There are countries that have made fortunes from exporting marijuana and it’s not just for smoking or recreational use, I’m talking about the other 33,000 uses of the plant. We can make jeans fabric from the plant, we can make oil from the plant. If Ghana’s economy is struggling and there’s a plant not meant to be used on the streets of Ghana, let’s plant it and export it to the streets that they use it and collect money from them. Because they have legalized it there, so why not send it to them. A farmer who has a good soil who can grow acres of marijuana should be able to grow it, package it and send it to who buys it so that we make money for the economy,” he explained.

He also spoke on his role in colleague dancehall act Shatta Wale’s rise to prominence, pointing out that their lyrical beef was instrumental in shooting the Kakai man up: “He [Shatta Wale] should always say thanks to the blueprint [Samini] because I’ve been there and he looked at me, targeted me, he threw shots at me because I was on top and still at the top, he knows that. So I became his main target, so now I guess he is even tired of answering questions about my name because wherever you will go, I promise you that they will ask you: what’s your problem with the artiste Samini?”.

Samini also recounted putting Wale on his 2004 nationwide tour, placed him among his top three dancehall acts in the country currently, and inadvertently influencing the SM frontman’s change of name to Shatta Wale.

Towards the end of the thrilling conversation, Shatta Wale was raised on the line, and both acts lauded each other’s contributions to the genre and the industry as a whole. “You Do All’, Samini said to Shatta Wale, before they delved into a historic freestyle session live in air.

Shatta Wale appeared on last year’s edition of Samini’s “Saminifest” concert, a gesture announcing the end of their prolonged beef. They’re also reportedly working on projects together, as well as a world tour.

Watch the interview below:

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Stonebwoy premieres NEW SINGLE on Apple Music’s Beats 1

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Dancehall singer Livingstone Satekla (Stonebwoy) debuts his latest single on Apple Music’s Beats 1 radio platform.

Titled Falling Again, it follows up major joints he has put out this year as Say It (ft. Demarco), and My Name. It also features Kojo Funds, with production by Masta Garzy.

Owned and managed by IT  giant Apple Inc., Beats 1  airs a mix of pop, rap and indie music. Now globally received, the station was established with the motive of  “curating  cool new music, whether it be new talent or fresh music from established artists”. It is hosted by veteran American broadcaster Ebro Darden.

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Events & Places

3 DAYS TO GO! Shatta Wale, Falz, Tekno, OTHERS return to NYC for One Africa Music Fest!

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Ghanaian dancehall icon Shatta Wale returns to New York City for the much-anticipated annual mega-concert One Africa Music Festival.

Ghana’s sole representative, he joins a tall list of colleagues from around the continent –mostly Nigerian and East African: Timaya, Flavour, Falz, Victoria Kimani and a host of others.

Last year, the event was held in the famous Barclays Centre and Houston’s Toyota Centre, with Wizkid, Stonebwoy, D’banj, Jidenna, Flavour, Seun Kuti, Banky W among others all making a strong case for talent from the continent.

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King Promise Touches Orphans On His Birthday – SEE IMAGES!

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Fast rising Afro-pop music sensation, King Promise, spent his birthday touching lives of the less privileged when he lead a team from Touch a Life Impact Group to make a donation to New Life Children’s Home, an orphanage located in Nungua in the Capital.

The Oh Yeah hit maker and the CEO for Touch a Life Impact Group, Samait Kwannin lead the team to donate 200 bags of Cement, assorted Groceries, Boxes of Water, Toiletries among others to the orphanage during the early hours of Wednesday, August 16. Also played games with the kids and had a reception to dine with the children and staff of the orphanage.

Speaking on the motivation behind the philanthropic act, King Promise said; “I have always loved kids as a person and growing up, I always wanted to impact society in any capacity possible, so I decided to join my mates from school to raise funds for charity on my birthday.” He added that he is particularly happy to have the opportunity to put smiles on the faces and touch lives of the under privileged children”.

King Promise is currently signed on to Killbeatz Addison’s Legacy Life Entertainment record label and currently promoting his single Oh Yeah which has been topping the chart in recent times.

Below is a link to the music video:

 

 

SUBMITTED!

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