AYAT. The name has, within a year, moved from semi-obscurity to the bright lights of fame. AYAT: a name that has come to be associated with not only high octane performances but incredible music that swings between boastful, reflective and motivating spaces.
In 2016, he released his widely anticipated debut EP, ZAMANI to critical acclaim. The Afro trap influenced EP had AYAT touching on the themes of hope, dreams, success and love. And within a year, the 26 year old has featured on some of the biggest songs in the country. But, these initial successes are just the beginning of a glowly career for AYAT.
In this interview with art writer Adedayo Laketu for Culartblog, the Dodo (Monster) of Afro-Trap talks about his music, which he calls ‘Afro Sprirtual’, the future of African music, his career and what it means to be a New Age artiste.
Adedayo Laketu (AL) : What does ‘Iron Boy’ mean and where did it come from ?
AYAT Zamani (AZ) : “Iron Boy Abrantie” in the Akan language is used to refer to a well to do young man. It’s a popular term used among the Akan & Twi speaking people of Ghana. The great highlife singer, Amakye Dede was the first person to popularize the term.
AL : How do you relate to it ?
AZ: I’m the modern day Iron Boy. I’m determined, I’m passionate and I’ve been hungry for so long. I’ve been chasing these dream for a long minute and now that it’s almost finally in my grasp I’m not gonna joke with it. I’m going all out.
I’m just a vessel. My role is to carry and bring you these vibes; whatever name you give it: be it Afrobeats, Afro-Trap, Afro-Fusion. So long as you feel it, my job is done.
AL : Your music is composed with you addressing different topics with different forms, you rap, you sing, you humm.What’s your music ?
AZ : I call it Afro Spirituals. Whether it’s a party rager like MUNZO or a motivational piece like DAWA, it all connects on a spiritual level. You can feel me in that moment. I tell people to listen with their hearts when my music is playing. But then again, I’m just a vessel. My role is to carry and bring you these vibes whatever name you give it; be it Afro Beats, Afro-Trap, Afro-Fusion, I don’t mind. So long as you feel it my job is done.
AL : What exactly do you want people to feel when they listen ?
AZ : It depends on which song they listen to: love, pain, passion, anger, rage, lust, joy, nostalgia. regrets even, It’s all allowed. We are human.
AL : Why does music call to you ? What does the art form mean to you ?
AZ : I guess I found this passion later on in my life while for most it starts at an early stage. I discovered mine a year after high school. I was a music lover at first but it was in 2009 when I had an epiphany and ever since my life has revolved around it.
It helps me communicate the things I can’t say in conversation. It brings freedom to me. It’s my go to place when I feel hopeless, it’s my safe haven, where I’m free to express myself; where I can be myself and not be afraid of judgements.
AL : Is there freedom in your form as a creative navigating Africa ?
AZ : Yes, because when I’m creating, opinions and authority don’t matter and No because opinions and authority matter in Africa. You get me? When I’m creating no one can tell me what to say or do, but when it’s out in the world people can and will tell you what to say and do.
Ghana is the wave centre of Africa but what we lack is direction, structure and an industry.
AL : Africa is at its most divine now, our sounds are getting more recognition. How does your music fit in this growth ?
AZ : My music fits in the nerve center. I mean Ghana has always had the wave, we been dashing out sauce since the time of Fela Kuti and even way before that. This (Ghana) is the wave center of Africa but what we lack is direction, structure, and an industry. I’m out in LA (Los Angeles) right now learning and it’s a huge eye opener. I played a few shows and people go crazy. My music is the future of African music and that future is now. Trust me
AL : “The future is now, trust me”.
AZ : Isn’t it? Have you heard my music? Have you seen my video? Is there anything like it? Isn’t it different? Aren’t people jacking it?
AL : What does it mean creating music as an African in the world? You mentioned you’re in LA right now, what’s the atmosphere of our music there?
AZ : We get to tell our own stories now. We get to express ourselves how we want to now. African music is on the rise here. People love it but it’s bittersweet to me cause I feel it’s getting pigeonholed in a sense that, only party songs are given attention which is not a bad thing, but there’s so many other songs and stories that needs to be heard.
AL: You channel your heritage a lot in your music. Talk about where you come from and why it’s important you reflect it in your music?
AZ : That’s my root. I have to tell our story. If I don’t who will? It’s very important to me. It’s a rich heritage too so why not talk about it and share it with the world?
African music is on the rise here. People love it but it’s bittersweet to me because I feel it’s getting pigeonholed in a sense that, only party songs are given attention..but there’s so many other songs and stories that needs to be heard
AL : What’s ‘As Wholes’? How does the duo differ from your own personal music?
AZ : ‘As Wholes’ is a music duo of myself and Akan. We have great chemistry yet we’re also polarizing. We formed the duo back when I was Billy BanGer and he was Quabena Shy. A lot has happened since, so we tryna figure out our paths before we link up again. On my personal joints you only hearing my perspective but with ‘As Wholes’ you’re getting two different; totally opposite views.
AL : What do you believe in ?
AZ : Love.
AL : What is love in Africa ?
AZ : Tolerance. As diverse as the continent is we share more similarities than most and the ability to coexist in harmony and tolerate each other’s differences is the highest level of love to me.
Adedayo Laketu is the co-founder/creative inventor of Baroque Age,an innovative, conscious reality company based in Nigeria. The 22 year old believes in the power of the youth and stays constantly motivating. He loves music and arts and hates dodo.