What I’m Feeling: the August 2016 Comeback Edition (Part One)

It’s been awhile since I did one of these.

Regardless, here it is: my monthly occasional once-in-awhile rundown of music that I’m feeling right now. Today’s edition is all local (to avoid clashing with something I’m a part of on another platform that will reveal itself in a week or so. I’ll update this post with a link when it drops). A couple of these are a little dated but – like I said – it’s been a long time. Besides, dopeness is timeless.

Warning: it’s pretty packed. Up next, I’ll do a non-music one. We’ll see if I can keep it up. Here goes.

Kuvie

Kuv-1

A couple of months back, I wrote my thoughts on how I thought Kuvie had low-key invented a new genre/subgenre of music or something. I would later see him do a live music set as part of DJ Keyzzz’ BeatPhreaks Live gig at Alliance Francaise, and it exceeded my already high expectations. I would definitely pay money to go see Kuvie headline. He hasn’t let up since then, especially on the named ‘Grind’: Vision DJ’s collaboration with Ayisi Ican (AI). One of my favorite tunes of the moment by my favourite producer of the moment under the auspices of one of my favourite DJs.

RedRed – How Far

The most important/topical/urgent song on this list. Awhile back, RedRed – the outfit consisting of M3nsa (who is still cedi-for-cedi the most complete Ghanaian artist in existence and needs to bless us all with another solo album ) and ELO – dropped a video with a live performance of what sounded like a sparse, next-level electronic rework of the Ghanaian national anthem. It got a lot of my people excited. After it finally premiered on Ms. Naa’s Ryse & Shyne – suitably on independence day – Malaka wrote a whole blog post about it. There was awhile there when I thought the lyrics would date because the President ‘solved’ dumsor bi saa.

False alarm.

VI Music

The admiration I have for Adomaa extends to her entire crew, really. VI Music is fast becoming less of a label than it is an entire creative movement encompassing Adomaa herself, and the collective dopeness that is Akotowaa, Robin Huws, Reynolds the Gentleman, Tronomie and more. More than just their music, I like the whole ‘squad’-ness of their operation and how they really are not about fitting into modern Ghanaian musical templates; even with each other. Their sounds are actually diverse as heck. No artist here sounds like the other. And even their artwork drips with attention to detail.

The Gentleman could be Ghana’s Wizkid. He sure has the energy (as anyone who was at the Afraba concert can testify). Unlike Wizkid however, he is also a producer, which might be why he sings about more than just how he wants to part with his money on account of someone’s ass/body/waist/dancing/whatever (And the occasional song about poverty. Don’t get me wrong: I love Wizkid. But daaamn… he always sings about the same things). I don’t know how my people will respond to that, but it works for me.

Robin Huwes is all about love, stripped-down acoustics and a genuine vulnerability rarely heard around these parts:

My (adopted baby cousin) Akotowaa beautifully blurs the lines between spoken word, rap, singing and the good old fashioned art of actual songwriting on IWITP. And I love it:

Adomaa’s brother (& my former student) Tronomie just dropped his debut track, ‘Breaking Bars’. I’m hearing Kwabs and Gallant influences (at a time when few musicians out here have probably even heard of those two): not a bad thing at all.

VI gives me hope.

DJ Juls feat. Mr Eazi x Eugy x Sarkodie – Teef Teef

It’s beautiful to see a good thing come together. Juls has been crafting this African-sample-heavy sound for years without getting the due he deserves. For awhile, I thought he’d left it behind to explore other (equally dope) sounds with his homeboy Mr. Eazi (their creative collaboration is to Ghanaian music what Martin Scorcese’s partnerships with DeNiro and DiCaprio have been to Hollywood). But then he comes back with this. Beats 1’s Julie Adenuga named it the sound of the summer and she’s right. If this is not on your playlist, you’re failing.

Cina Soul – Julor

I was late listening to Cina Soul’s brilliant single, only doing so after the homie Paa Koti schooled me to it and my mind’s twin, Debbie Frempong insisted to me that it features what may be the most flawless vocals she’d ever heard from Ghana. And then I learned that it was produced by Elidot’s former student, Odunsi and that it also features different-sounding raps by the man M Dot. Cina (who really is the sweetest human being in person) just dropped her EP, and while  I don’t think it quite matches the brilliance of this track, it’s clear that her potential is crazy. Watch this one.

IFKR ft. Odunsi – Omo Gbono

I should be mad at Ashesi’s finest two DJs – K3V and Franklin – for keeping from me the fact that their Major Lazer-loving asses are also creating original ‘afro-EDM’ tunes. But by the time that synth-y sound drops after the chorus, all is forgiven really. Fun track. I’m curious to hear what else they are cooking up.

Odunsi ft. Okuntakinte – Happy Hour

Odunsi is the future. There: I said it. I remember thinking this when EDWVN drew my attention to his tracks Nasty Horns and Nikki. Crisp production. Diversity. Imagination. The man whose influence is felt on the last two tracks I mentioned has also released an EP and my favourite cut by far is this one, featuring his (unapologetically controversial) Ashesi  classmate, Okuntakinte, who is on good form here.

Villy & the Xtreme Volumes – WMM (Wia My Money)

Villy has been owning Accra’s live music scene for a few years now. He reminds me of two of my old friends from London – Lyric L & Ty: artists whose live performances are so on point that they make fans of people who have never heard their music before. Villy’s EP Humanimals shows musical growth and this is showcased perfectly on this angry, Miles-Davis-sampling, African blues track, WMM.

African leaders: come take your subs… and bring us our money while you’re at it.

Worlasi

nu

Yoyo Tinz have been evangelizing about Worlasi for a minute and it’s easy to see why. Charisma, a unique style, lyrical depth and locally-relevant content that all Ghanaians can relate to all make Worlasi a contender. He shines on features, as he does here with m.anifest:

And – just like King Kendrick – he’s dropped an EP of unreleased tracks:

Honorary Mention

YG & Nipsey Hussle – FDT

Hardly local, but I must admit that it does capture a few of my sentiments on a topic of potential international significance. The part two featuring Macklemore and G-Eazy is on regular rotation in the Ankomah-Graham household.

Speaking of part twos, stay tuned for Part Two. Next week. Maybe.

#MyWritingProcess

My friend Fiona Leonard recently responded to a challenge by my partner-in-Ashesi-related-crimes, Kajsa Hallberg Adu to talk about her writing process.

Fiona in turn challenged three writers to do the same, and – for some bizarre reason – I was one of them. Personally I do not think myself much of a writer, so when a friend who you respect as a writer calls you one, it’s quite an honour.

So here goes…

What am I working on?

I am currently working a collection of ten short stories based on Ghanaian urban legends. I tried last summer and failed and since then, I have been waiting for another block of time within which I can write daily. Ashesi just went on holiday so that time is pretty much now. If I fail, Fiona has telling rights on one of the stories.

I am also in the middle of reorganising my blog around my various hats as a writer, DJ, lecturer and as an African.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

With regards to fiction, I am still discovering my writing voice and so I really cannot say. If people eventually find my writing imaginative and it makes them pause for thought though, I won’t complain.

As a blogger and freelance writer, what sets my work apart is that I am the one writing it. I come from a weird combination of backgrounds and experiences that make me a bit of what Ethan Zuckerman calls a ‘bridge figure’: able to look at my culture from both an insider and an outsider perspective.

Why do I write what I do?

Mainly because I enjoy writing. I am much more comfortable writing than I am speaking.

Besides that however, I write because feel like I have something to say. Everybody does, really. I am surprised by how many people send me messages after particular blog posts to say that I have said something they wanted to say. I honestly wish that more people would write.

How does my writing process work?

I have worked with people like Kajsa Hallberg Adu and Ato Kwamena Dadzie who seem able to write at the drop of a hat. I envy them.

Sometimes (usually early in the morning), I get a bee in my bonnet, and start writing out a plan. Then I get so caught up in the plan that I end up writing out the whole thing.

This works great for short write ups like blogs and such. It’s not a particularly great way to write longer pieces though. My challenge this summer will be to channel it into a daily writing ritual for completing my short story collection.

So that’s me.

My turn to pass on the four questions to three writers. Hmmm. I choose…

 

Event/Co-Sign: A New Image Through An African Lens

Image

Over the past few years, young Africans privileged enough to find themselves online have started not only consuming content, but also putting content online. To my mind, this is a good thing: the more of our own stories (please note the use of the plural here; stories) we put out there, the less likely it is that others will concoct any for us. More importantly however, we will get to know ourselves and each other a little better, and build the networks we need to in order to build this little continent of ours.

There is an event happening this Friday, organized by a team called AADAT! exploring how African photographers are actively taking charge of how their continent and its people are portrayed.

Panelists include Omar Victor Diop, Delphine Fawundu-Buford, alongside Ghana’s very own Nana Kofi Acquah, Sharifah IssakaOfoe Amegavie, and Laura Asimeng.

The forum will be hosted on Google + livestreamed on Friday, and also livetweeted through @aadatart. The great thing about this event is that you can participate.

If there any questions about the topic that you would like to have answered by the panel on the topic, all you have to do is:

a. Tweet your questions today at AADAT @aadatart (or send them through the AADAT Tumblr Ask Box: http://bit.ly/18WrUmu)

b. Tweet them during the discussion, as @aadatart will be livetweeting the whole thing.

Besides the photographers – each of whom I’ve been a fan of for awhile (except Diop, who I’m just discovering) – I will be following this event because of the involvement of two of my favourite young Ghanaians: Sharon Obuobi & Deborah Frimpong.

Sharon has been championing African art for while now in the form of ‘Auburn Butterfly’, an arts blog I follow that seems to have metamorphosed into AADAT!

Deborah, on the other hand, writes one of my favourite Tumblrs, Bittersweet, where she expresses some of the most intelligent opinions on life and faith that I’ve heard from any young Ghanaian.

Both are cool human beings very worth following.

>10 Questions: Ato Kwamina Dadzie

>Another day, another apology for not having blogged in ages. Got my laptop repaired though and I’m almost back online at home, so expect improvements in that department :o)

I finally sat down with Ghana’s most irreverent journalist (c), Ato Kwamina Dadzie and, as promised, I threw all your questions at him. Click here to listen to what he had to say. It was a 25-minute chat and it was both fun and informative, especially for anyone curious about challenges facing people chasing the news in Ghana. I was personally most intrigued by the journalists who taught him not to give a **** and his thoughts on political bias in the Ghanaian media.

I’m looking for a better way to post it to the blog besides Sendspace, so anyone with any ideas should let me know. We did the interview after work in the Joy FM news so you can still hear phones going off, Nathaniel Attoh furiously typing in the background and a couple of journalists engaged in a shouting match… sorry, I meant passionate debate in the background. It’ll take awhile to transcribe, but I’ll put up some quotables soon.

It’s good to be back.

>Interview: Questions for Ato Kwamina Dadzie

>

It’s been just over a month since I started working in the Joy FM newsroom and one of the best things about the experience so far has been watching one of my favourite Ghanaian journalists in action.

Ato Kwamina Dadzie is hands-down the country’s funniest commentator. One listen to his newspaper reviews on the Super Morning Show, his Not-News segment on the Weekend City Show or a read of any of his blog articles should be enough to confirm this to anyone with any doubts.

Even better than all that though, Ato’s been kind enough to agree to an interview on this blog so I figured I would throw it over to you.

All questions welcome. No holds barred (I think).

>Co-Sign: Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women

>Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women is written , amongst others, by a friend of mine but I will try and write this without bias. Its intriguing title is largely self-explanatory but if your imagination is low on gas today then think of it as the blog version of all those necessary yet secret conversations African women (used to/still) have with their daughters when men are busy elsewhere.

Well-written, honest, deeply personal and actually serving a purpose, Adventures… is vying with Esi Cleland’s Wo Se Ekyir and cousin Whapibak’s Second Child, Last Born for my favourite Ghanaian blogs of 2009 (so far).

Highly recommended.

>Co-Sign: Koranteng’s Toli

>Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah keeps a great blog and his latest post is particularly brilliant, looking at a freshly independent 1969 Ghana through the eyes of the iconic African magazine, Drum (which apparently had a Ghanaian edition).

It’s a great article (and a brilliant blog too) so make sure to check it out.

>Co-Sign: Perfect Political Writing

>Just read a great article that everyone in Ghana needs to read, absorb and have an opinion on…

… especially if you blindly follow (or lead) these political parties who seem to assume that the electorate is not only unintelligent but lacks the capacity to develop intelligence.

I am pasting the article below, but I highly recommend that you subscribe to the Ghana Elections 2008 blog from which I pulled it.

Credit: www.africanelections.org

Sowing the Seeds of Disappointment -Election Diary

The late British politician, Enoch Powell, is credited with one of the most astute and prescient observations about politics: he said that “all political lives, unless they are cut off in mid-stream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs”. No matter how much politicians may strive to achieve “the best” for their people, expectations will ALWAYS overtake what can be realistically achieved.

That is part of human nature, but also it is because politicians always overestimate what they can do, especially when they are in opposition. This leads to gross over-promising which inevitably leads to disappointment, disaffection and frustration, if the party wins office and is seen not to have fulfilled its promises.

This classic scenario applies to the situation of both the NPP and NDC as they struggle for our votes in this year’s election. However, it is the NPP that appears to bear the brunt of people’s disappointment. In its manifesto, the NPP has catalogued many achievements in all spheres of life and they are impressive. And yet when you speak to many young people they say that the NPP has not fulfilled its promises.

It appears that the cause of this sentiment is a promise made during the 2000 campaign that the NPP would create hundreds of thousands of jobs for young people. It is the sort of vague campaign promises that are made every day in every political campaign across the world but it appears that this particular promise raised huge expectations of the NPP, which in power could NEVER be fulfilled.

Let us leave for the moment the fact that the government per se does not create jobs except for the few within the civil service. This promise could not be fulfilled because even if all the unemployed youth of 2000 found jobs, there would be many more young people in the job market by the end of the government’s term of office.

The NDC is in a similar bind. It is making promises which people simply cannot square against the party’s performance in office from 1992 to 2001. Even worse for the NDC is the fact that many of the dramatis personae in its long life on the Ghanaian political stage were also part of the PNDC – a period that is remembered with less than fond memories in Ghanaian minds.

To put it mildly, there is a huge credibility gap in the public perception of the manifestos of the political parties, especially the NPP and NDC. People just do not believe that the parties mean what they are saying or will do what they are promising. This may be a tad unfair but the incredulity is rooted in the country’s political culture and how the two parties have conducted themselves in opposition and in office.

In Ghana, it appears that political campaigns are all about promises and thus a key benefit of campaigns, which is public education, is completely absent. For example, political platforms are used elsewhere to explain policy choices and why particular parties are making the choices they are campaigning on. The current campaign in the US is, in effect, a national class on issues such as taxation, energy, the environment, foreign affairs, and of course the on-going financial sector crisis and possible recession.

Also absent is any appeal to the electorate to play its part in national development, or even the peaceful conduct of the elections. It is astonishing that some political parties keep exhorting the government to ensure peaceful and fair election but do not urge restraint on its own supporters and cadres.

President Kennedy famously called on Americans during his inauguration in 1961 not to “ask not what America can do for you, but what you can do for America”. This kind of elevated rhetoric which places the burden of development on the citizen is largely absent from this campaign. At the very least, the politicians, when they promise the earth, could also tell the electorate to pay the taxes that will make it possible for those promises to be redeemed.