SPOTLIGHT: Meet LYZA, The A&R Working With Your Favourite Artists

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Ask LyZa, born Elizabeth Ntiamoah, what her impressions are about the new wave of music in Ghana and the artists behind it and her response is nothing short than a quick rhetorical question. ‘Have you seen the new crop of artiste?’’ before adding ‘’GH music has always been good. The attention on these talented guys was just not there but now I think it’s looking really positive’’

Lyza is a professional Public Relation practitioner and an A&R (Artist and Repertoire) person. Entering into the A&R field was an unplanned decision. An honest expression of opinion on a song led to her entertaining the idea of becoming an A&R. At present, Lyza , who describes herself as one who ‘isn’t sure about her height’ was raised around music. From Michael Jackson to Alpha Blonde, rock music to blues, her father serenaded their home with music. This led to shaping her musical consciousness and her love for music, which in the process resulted in a sibling rivalry between herself and her brother.

‘When the adults weren’t home my brother had a way with operating the tape and VCD (if that’s what it’s called) he then started rapping and I thought I could beat him to it ‘’

Lyza now has two artists on her roster. They are the Nigerian singer BigBen and rapper Bryan The Mensah from Ghana. Her first client was BigBen whose music she heard after a friend put her on. In the case of Bryan, it was BigBen who asked her to take a listen. ‘’I had seen a couple of people retweet his (Bryan) stuff but I checked it out one time after he tweeted at BigBen, then Ben said I should listen’, she recalls.

A closet rapper who sometimes raps ‘for the fun of it and just to show people who doubt that I ever did’, Lyza in this interview, lift the veil on her experiences as an A&R, the challenges associated with her work-how she navigate the unavoidable conflicting views with artists, how having a good ear and exhibiting a high level of tolerance is crucial in her line of job. She also discusses how she juggles between her two jobs-a PR and an A&R. She also talks about life outside the domain of music and the skills needed to succeed in this business.


First off, may I ask: Who is LyZa?

So LyZa is a girl who isn’t sure about her height. But she’s fun size and I believe she is amusing with a little temper for garnishing.

Born and raised in Accra?

Born somewhere in the Eastern Region but raised in Accra

Do you remember how you got introduced to music? Did you grow up with music playing in your house?

Through my parents and my brother, who I suspect got introduced the same way I did. My parents were both Michael Jackson fans. (Might have been a thing during their time). I grew up listening and watching everything Michael Jackson but one amazing music my dad literally abused was by 10cc. The song was titled ‘’Dreadlock Holiday’’. My brother and I will mimic and mime the song for the greater part of our lives it had a good story to it, from then I was curious to find more music.

So, I guess they played different genres of music right?

Yes they did; from rock to blues to anything weird and a lot of Alpha Blondy too. It was played every day even when the adults weren’t home. My brother discovered more rap music and had a way with operating the tape or VCD (if that’s what it’s called). Later he would started rapping to every beat and I thought I could beat him to it.

A healthy sibling competition. Did you ever beat him?

I am pretty sure I did. He did his verses in Twi. I did mine in English. I always took my time because I always wanted to win. My parents never picked a winner though.

Your parents obviously didn’t want to cause any family feud

Looks like it. I would have won anyway.

Do you still rap?

Yes I do but for the fun of it. And just to show people who doubt that I ever did.

One place that also shape our music palate is Senior High School. How was your experience like, music wise?

I wrote more music in High School. It was such a confidence booster knowing people knew that I could actually rap. So, I wrote a lot to stay relevant and bar heavy. I got caught dropping a few bars to beats being played on the table and all. That’s how I became friends with (music producer) Fortune Dane (@fortunedane). He was really passionate about music back then as well so I became interested in doing more. Funny thing is I never wanted to perform (*Fortune Dane is a music producer who has worked with artistes Sarkodie, Kwaw Kesse, R2Bees, Efya among others).

Why didn’t you want to perform? Was it borne out of shyness or the ‘attention’?

Fame I believe. I have never wanted to be seen out there ‘cos I feel it will obstruct my ‘movement’ (endeavors).

Which SHS if I may ask?

Ghana Senior High School in Koftwon (Koftown is how many Ghanaians refer to Koforidua, the capital of Eastern Region).

Before I get into your job, how did you connect with Bryan The Mensah and bigBen?

I met bigBen through a friend who asked me to check out his music and as usual I gave my opinion. Bryan (The Mensah), I met on twitter. I had seen a couple of people retweet his stuff but checked it out one time after he tweeted at bigBen. Then Ben said I should listen. So yeah twitter.

What kind of opinion did you offer bigBen that got him to work with you? Curious to know.

(Laughs). I had two songs. I listened to the first and thought it was the usual nice singing, great voice, great tune but I wasn’t sold. I wanted to know what was different with him. (Then), I listened to his second song and he had written an amazing story with an awesome production by himself. It was organic. I loved it ‘cos it was different and there were more tunes and more stories and more vibes.

Was it the song he wrote about his father not in support of him making music? Do you by any chance remember the title?

Oh that’s a M.anifest song, “Do My Own”. And yeah Ben’s story on that was amazing too not forgetting his production.

My love for music had me talking with a few acts here and there about what could be done to push their art. I knew they had something special. That’s when I decided I really want to do this.

What about Bryan The Mensah. What attracted you?

He is different you know. I like that but honestly aside loving his sound, it was the way he pushed his music own music.

Did you approach Bryan or he approached you to work together?

Ok, so I started tweeting and talking about his songs a lot then I decided to connect him to the few friends I thought might like his sound. I asked him to forward his music to some radio stations I had spoken to. He was swift about it, so we took it from there. I then asked if he had a manager and he asked if I am serious about managing him. So, I had to get serious about managing him.

You have links. Very impressive

(Laughs). Just a few friends

Is that how you began as an A&R?

Officially yes, but my love for music had me talking with a few acts here and there about what could be done to push their art. I knew they had something special. That’s when I decided I really want to do this, plus I like being behind the scene anyway so that was it. I sort of promised myself I will do something with and for music. I really didn’t know what I was thinking

Explain who an A&R is & what the job entails?

A&R is responsible for the scouting of talents for record labels and assisting the artiste in his recording process like finding or suggesting the right feature, producer. You are basically the artiste go to person till a song or album is done and published. And to do this, you need to have an ear for music as well as know what’s really catchy or trendy. I don’t even need anyone to tell me that I do have that in me.

I win or I learn. I can’t seem to think about quitting. Whenever I get frustrated, I move on to the next task ahead or find a means around it. But, I made a joke about quitting one time and Bryan said “it’s too early or it’s too late” so I guess there is no coming out of this until we win.

How long have you been doing this?

I would say a year officially.

What are some of the challenges you face as an A&R?

Working around everybody’s ego; from your artist to the other artist and artist managers when it comes to getting a feature for yours. Working with up and coming artist is double the wahala (problems) because you need to convince the next artiste that your act is solid and even after convincing them, fixing a date to get the song done is another. Then there is trying to get it on radio. But, it’s all part of the job so we move. Other times you stay up with your artiste to get a work done and then you just not feeling it so there is a lot of back and forth going on. You literally can’t sleep on the job.

Have you ever had a situation where you and your artists went back and forth on a decision? Care to share?

(Another laugh). Yes. I think it was about a release date or the song choice but we did find a way around it. There was a lot of talking and a tantrum. That’s all I can say.

Ever been frustrated to the point of considering quitting?

I win or I learn. I can’t seem to think about quitting. Whenever I get frustrated, I move on to the next task ahead or find a means around it. But, I made a joke about quitting one time and Bryan said “it’s too early or it’s too late” so I guess there is no coming out of this until we win.

How will you judge the GH music scene at present? Both the good and bad

Have you seen the new crop of artistes? Ghana music has always been good. The attention on these talented guys was just not there but now I think it’s looking really positive. That’s good but that’s not to say we can’t always do better and push good music and these guys.

Good ears, negotiating and having links are skills worth having, any other thing?

Being tolerant even if that’s not who you actually are. You need to be, as well as having a good relationship with people, not use people for your gains. Give credit where it’s due. Always stay in touch and connected.

Do you feel like your gender impede your work with these artists?

Not really. Until I call or meet with a person, most don’t even know my gender and they get excited when they find out. I have been asked what I did to either get a feature or a favor because of my gender but the thing is I have been fortunate to have come across serious minded people (guys especially) that are all about work and mind their business. I believe I am putting in effort so nothing really obstructs me. If something doesn’t work for me I move on from there.

Being a PR is work on its own. How do to juggle both?

(Sighs). I go do my 9-5 as a PR but I am an A&R every time and every day. I just make time to fix in that every free chance I get. It’s tiring because my PR job is in another region and most times, the music business requires me moving around. The good thing is A&R requires communication and my PR instinct comes to the rescue all the time.

Do you help in writing songs for your artist?

No, except when bigBen wants to fix in some Twi then I have to translate his English verse to Twi. Aside that, both artistes are really good with everything they do musically, from writing to producing.

Which artist would you love to work with Reasons?

Wow I have a tall list, basically every artist in Ghana because we intend to do this for a long time. From mainstream to ground up so long as the sound fits. Wiyaala, Mensah, Mdot, Edem, Kubolor, Sark, Teephlow, Worlasi, Akan, Efya, R2bees. They all have been consistent in what they do and definitely artiste from other countries for sure too.

Aside music, what other things attract you?

Books. My favorite author must be John Grisham. First book I read by him was “The Client”. I wanted to be a lawyer before and even more so whenever I read his books. But yeah I read everything.

What do you think some of our artists need to improve on so as to compete on the global level.

They should keep the same energy they started with. They obviously don’t have the same resources with artiste elsewhere but they do have the content and will to stay pushing. There is no point in slowing down if you really want to compete worldwide. The hunger they started with needs to live.

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Interview: Rapper Lykay Talks Music and His Projections For 2018

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In 2017, Lykay released his debut EP, “The Deity”, a hip-hop project that was greeted with an appreciable degree of acceptance from the ears that heard him. The 7 track EP is steep in real 90s hip hop with a few trap influences. His calm demeanor and strong voice makes me stand out among the many rappers out here who are much invested in today’s vaunted trap style of music.

Lykay, born Abel Brobbey is a rapper and head of the collective WEIRDXGENIUS made up of rappers, producers. The interest of the collective also include photography and fashion. The Santa Maria based rapper who’s bent on putting ‘my hood on the music scene’, considers music beyond the fame and money it may bring him. ‘I love music and arts. It’s my therapy’, Lykay tells me in a twitter exchange.

The over six foot tall rapper at first glance doesn’t carry the aura of a hiphop artist. His demeanor is laid back (and chill), his clothes far from the look won by many hiphop artists. Beneath this looks lies a talent that grips at first hearing. ‘A contemporary with an old school touch’. That’s how Lykay describes himself.

That old school touch permeated through his ‘The Deity EP ” and subsequent music. That feel was the quality that convinced Mutombo Da Poet (a poet, video director and rapper) to shoot a video for his song ‘Messiah’. ‘It was the sound. The sound made me shoot a video for him. His hommie introduced me to his sound and I got the vibe after listening to the first track: his hardcore lyrics and old school style. Lykay is dope. He has to blow u. Where I think he lacks is a strategy and packaging. Aside that, he has his art on lock’’, Mutombo Da Poet candidly tells me.

Lykay had a good year in 2017, musically. He released music, collaborated with some artists and performed at various musical events. Despite these moves, Lykay is looking to becoming more visible in 2018.

In this interview, he outlines some of the high points in 2017, his plans for 2018, sharing stage with the FOKN Bois and the importance of social media.


First of all how will you describe 2017 for you as artist?

2017 was good. [I] met idols I only visualized meeting; From Mutombo Da Poet (Fotombo) shooting ”Messiah” video because he loved the song, meeting Wanlov and opening up for M3NSA at Alliance Français. It was a good year but I could’ve done better as far as visibility, which I’m planning on working on this year

What didn’t you do to gain that visibility? What do you intend to do differently?

More performances because that’s really my favorite thing to do. Working with the team to be out there more and exhibit the skills on more platforms.

I saw you at the FOKN party. I was impressed by your stage perform. And seems the audience also loves it. What did the reception do to your confidence?

I felt really good ‘cos I didn’t really know what to expect. But I always make it a point to be confident any time I’m on stage because that energy bounces back to the crowd. I’m glad they loved it.

 

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photo credit: twitter page

Aside the FOKN party did you perform at any events? Which one stuck with you and why?

[I] performed at Kona Live couple of times. Also did Badu Lounge and Verbs. But I think the Accra Hip Hop Festival was the highlight.

You released music in 2017 and collaborated some more. What are your plans for 2018?

More collaborations. I’m not known for collaborating more in the past. But, that changed from last year. I’m hoping to work with a lot more artists this year.

Are you very selective in who you collaborate with? What do you look out for in an artist before you feature them or jump on their songs?

Someone who takes their craft seriously, especially on social media. Even if you started recently and your song is dope and you’re serious with the craft, we’ll work.

You and Bryan The Mensah have been on a few records? There’s a very recognizable chemistry between you two. Any projects between you two?

Me & Bryan The Mensah. Yeah, great artist. For now, no projects. We’ll definitely talk about it. More works will come from us in the future.

Interacting with fans is very important to me. It’s good you connect with the fans sometimes rather than asking them to listen to your music all the time.

Social media has become an avenue for young indie artists like yourself. Aside the visibility it offers, are there other benefits that adds to your brand?

We are really exposed now to what is happening outside. And I’m learning & reading a lot; seeing how these bigger artists go about touring. We are taking clues from that. Aside music, myself & my team, WEIRDXGENIUS, we love fashion & photography. So we’re looking to get some endorsement deals someday.

You are very active on social media especially on twitter. What does interacting with fans online mean for you, your visibility for that matter?  How to you handle trolls?

Interacting with fans is very important to me. It’s good you connect with the fans sometimes rather than asking them to listen to your music all the time. Connection is everything. For trolls, I just ignore. It’s hard though, but you responding to a troll’s tweet rather gives it the attention they’re thirsting for.

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Lykay (R) with one of his mentors, M3nsa

Tell me what you have on offer for 2018, from music to videos and other ambitions

I’ve already planned a lot with the team. All has to do with funding so we are putting things in place. I did a couple of guest features which I’m sure will come out soon as well. I can’t give much info on that now.

Event organizers really should at least compensate artists even if they’re not there yet. Because everything costs money in music. Recording, videos, photo shoot & even transportation to these shows

You mentioned funding as an issue. I’m curious how do you, an indie act raise funds to finance your projects? And what other challenges affect your career?

It’s serious. We hustle on the side to fund our career. But music is costly so you’ll need a lot more. I had a day job back then but it was so hectic. I wasn’t even having the urge to create or time to perform so I dropped it and took the music seriously in 2016 and I have seen progress.

So event organizers really should at least compensate artists even if they’re not there yet. Because everything costs money in music. Recording, videos, photo shoot & even transportation to these shows.

If I ask you what the Lykay brand is, how would you answer?

A contemporary with an old school touch, be it music or fashion. Currently working with our in house producer, Okukuseku to sample some old Ghanaian highlife & funk music- from the likes of Ebo Taylor and the likes- and fuse it with contemporary sound.

Are there any rappers on WeirdXGenuis apart from Okukuseku and yourself?

Jo Humphrey, a singer is on the label. He’s currently working on his debut EP. A very talented guy.

Aside the FOKN Bois, which artists influenced you musically? Which of them would you love working with?

A lot have influenced me. I’m very eclectic with the music I listen to. So ranging from Gyedu Blay Ambolley (who I’ve met once) to Sarkodie, M.anifest, EL, Worlasi & Ebo Taylor. I’ll love to work with most of the new artists too. We all have diverse sounds. I love that.

Read review of The Deity EP here

 

An interview with Bright Ackwerh about Music.

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The name Bright Ackwerh is usually associated with humorous yet thought-provoking illustrations. His name tolls among some of the new crop of talented artists from the African continent making news within the arts and culture space. In a short period of time, his incredible talent has caught the attention of some of the world’s biggest media outlets, including CNN, BBC, DW-TV, who have all interviewed him about his work.

In 2017 alone, Bright Ackwerh, the 2016 Kuhenhyia Prize for Contemporary Art Winner, has seen his work adorning the walls of some arts galleries across Ghana, Africa and the US like the South Bay Contemporary Gallery and the Absa Gallery, in Los Angeles and South Africa respectively.

Even though he describes his work as an ‘investigation into identity politics and cultural issues’, they are heavily geared towards pop culture. Bright’s employment of pop culture references, which always carries a humorous verve feeds into his broader ‘satire to speak’ philosophy.

For the majority of people, Bright is an illustrator, period. But, for the few close pals and associates, he is also a music head. His musical palate extends across genres. I must state that, Bright has personally put me on some incredible artistes like Nigerian soul/jazz crooner, BeZ and some songs by Blitz The Ambassador I wasn’t preview of.

In this interview, Bright shares his musical side with Culartblog. He speaks about the state of Ghana music at present: ‘This is the best time to be a musician in Ghana’; how music influences his artwork: ‘music has a way of turning my emotions’; his love for American rapper Joey Badass; and why hip hop’s ‘social commentary’ is an attraction.


Who and how did you get introduced to music?

Oh, I can’t remember. Maybe the first songs my parents must have sang to me as a child? It’s impossible to remember or name the first song I ever knew but something special happened in 2004. I got introduced to hip hop.

What kind of songs were played in your house growing up?

My dad had music of all the highlife artistes of the 80’s and 90’s, and every Elder Mireku (a prominent gospel artiste) cassette ever and he would play from his cassette player. The whole household caught on with the vibe because for one, we knew it entertained the old man. Later, my brother started playing music in church so there was always some Ron Kenoly or Don Moen. Those were some of his learning materials I think, so he collected tapes and live recordings.

Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?

Being the black sheep (of the family), I opted for something more secular. I can’t remember the very first one, but I bought a lot of Luther Vandross CDs, the blues from America. I think I had all his albums and I used to play them in the house. I could play only when no one else wanted to play their stuff because being the youngest at the time meant automatically, I had the least right to the CD player. It was bullying but I waited my turn patiently. Aside that, I had a lot of Celine Dion, West Life, you know the music that usually expressed what I couldn’t say to the girls from school.

Has there been any album you regretted buying?

Not for the content. Maybe a CD developed scratches too soon but since I got my first Ipod, I ripped all my CDs into it. I think the set from then still forms the core of my digital collection now.

I think it’s impossible to think of my work as an artist in isolation. I think what I do rubs on and is rubbed on by the work or many other artists.

What kind of music genres do you listen to mostly? Any reasons?

Now I am just a hip hop head. I listen to everything else though, mostly out of curiosity. And when something catches my attention, I add it to my lists and find more about it when I can. Hip hop does social commentary for me like no other genre. Through the culture, I have been able to find some of my strongest voices for my work and for my life generally.

Is there a relationship between your work as an illustrator and the music you listen to?

Yes! I think it’s impossible to think of my work as an artist in isolation. I think what I do rubs on and is rubbed on by the work or many other artists. Elements in music have been inspiration to me a lot of times.

Can you explain how one influences the other? And what kind of music do you listen to when working?

I don’t have a particular kind of music I listen to while I work, but, music generally has a way of tuning my emotions. Once I decide what I want my day to feel like I can create a playlist to wake up to. I can easily catch the frequency I want, more easily when the music exudes the same frequency!

For instance, when I want to do something related to pain, I would go and listen to some of the stories Joe Budden tells in his music. He does that well. Or when I want to paint a picture about some of the interesting things that happen in our country, I would listen to the ‘Fokn Ode to Ghana’ by the Fokn Bois. For me, it’s one of my favourite albums to paint Africa in a realistic light. And it’s entertaining too.

You are supportive of some of the artists on the come up like Worlasi, Cina Soul, The FOKN Bois, Black Girls Glow and Blitz The Ambassador. Why are you invested in their work?

These are only a few and most of them are already well established as far as establishment goes (here) if you ask me. But we can extend this your list. I have deep appreciation for all the music talents repping different styles and themes and giving us so much variety without compromise. It’s fulfilling for me as a fan first to be able to just witness all the evolutions and then be able to play more active roles is just bliss. When I learn of something dope, I want to share it with everyone so they may also enjoy.

You are a fan of rapper Joey Badass. What is it about him and his music that you love? You remember what made you a fan?

I fell in love with Joey Badass when I heard his mixtape ‘1999’. I first got into hip hop after hearing about Nas’ work, so to find someone so young continuing a legacy many greats had contributed to was special. I thought I would keep a peeled ear and I am happy to see what he is doing now, especially when a lot of what you are likely to hear is the other stuff. No disrespect.

There is so much great music being put out that you could blink and miss so much

Which artist or album are you currently listening to?

‘Hues’ by Robin Huws. I personally made it my mission to apply pressure on him to put something out. I am glad he did. I am sure he is too. But ‘Onipa Akoma’ by Akan, ‘Mother of Heirs’ by Black Girls Glow (BBG), ‘Orange Card’ by Wanlov. Also, ‘Laila’s Wisdom’ by Rapsody to name just a few. All these projects came out this year so I have had to have them on constant rotation so I can grasp different feels at each listen.

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Bright Ackwerh designed Wanlov’s Orange Card: Fruitopian Raps album cover

My playlist also extends to include spoken word projects like those by by Dzyardzorm (The Wine Wrote This’, Akotowaa (I Wasn’t In The Picture) and Kwame Write. I like to have my playlists as diverse as possible. I played the new Kayso again only this afternoon. There is so much great music being put out that you could blink and miss so much. Darkovibes is a new favourite too. And it’s great to see the artists be able to sell CDs and downloads and organize their own concerts for their audiences.

If you are to invite artists from any genre & generation to your party, who’d be on the list? Explain why

I am generally a chilled out kind of ‘partier’ so my parties would be very low key. There would be a lot of RnB playing so Kevin Ross would be there. Brymo, if I can get him to sing. BeZ too. All the artists I just mentioned above would be invited to come too, if they will agree to perform for exposure else they can pay to come to my party. If they opted out of both, I would make ugly pictures of them all. Hi Adomaa.

What is your honest view on Ghana’s music scene?

This is the best time to be a musician in Ghana. There is so much going and so you can’t be isolated. The motivation of just seeing your contemporaries getting it should motivate you too. (Hey RU?!)

On a scale of 10, where will you rank Ghana music as it is today?

I would say a 9 because I love what people are doing behind the scenes to get things moving. I would to see more of the younger acts break into and change the taste s of the mainstream.

Who’s your favorite artist of all time?

I don’t think I can answer this fairly. Michael Jackson comes to mind easily though. He had it all.

Is there a music lyric that you live by? Any song that you’d say is the soundtrack to your life?

All the Akan Abusua knows what it means when you hear that ‘luke white on the beat… prrrrr po po po po’.

Track 7; ‘Akan Kasa’ off the Akan EP, or ‘Hard To Choose’ by Rapsody. I think they talk about the same thing and I am at that crossroads in my own work often so hearing these get me through that tough decision.

‘I’M IN THE BIGGEST ROOM IN THE WORLD’: An Interview with Ghanaian rapper, Kula

When I reached out to rapper Kula to propose an interview date, he was quick to accept. ‘I’m Ready’ was his immediate response. “Ok, I’ll get back at you in 20 minutes’, I said. With the ground work set, it was time to consider the line of questions to ask.

Kula has been on the road for a while now, touring across selected regions to promote his mixtape-The Best of Kula. The tour is also his way of getting close to his fans while making earning new ones. The whole experience has been worthwhile for the rapper whose latest single ‘Don’t Do It’, an observatory hip hop song on the facade of social media: “People are willing to help. You just need to make the effort’, he expressed this as among the highlights of his tour.

Kula has been in the rap game for a years, but, it wasn’t until two years ago that many took notice of him. It was on the ‘Joy FM Old School Reunion’ stage that Kula announced himself, breathing life into the ‘make the best of every opportunity’ mantra:Even though I wasn’t allowed to perform my own song, I put all the energy in that freestyle session’.

In this interview, Kula throws light on his recent tours across some regions, the state of the music scene and what upcoming artistes like himself could do to cause a change: ‘I feel artistes on the come up need to be paid for performances.  No matter how small’, his musical mentors ‘, his beginnings as a rapper: ‘I used to rap for seniors just to escape punishment. To them, it was entertainment, to me, it was training’, his future plans and his music making process: ‘I criticize my work a lot at the writing stage’.

Here is the full interview of my conversation with Kula


How has the tour been so far?

Been great and interesting. I’ve done Takoradi, Ho and of course Accra. Over 500 CDs sold so far. The next stop should be Koforidua, soon.

You’ve been around a few regions, how many more to go? Do you intend doing all the regions?

I wish I could but I doubt I can. Cost of transportation is putting pressure on the income (a CD costs GHc 5). If I spend GHc 200 on the trip, I’ll have to sell 40 CDs in order to break even. Business-wise, it’s not healthy for me

It’s not easy doing it on your own.

Yeah bro. Never easy

Issue of finance is a challenge for upcoming artistes. How do you survive when it comes to paying for studio, recording?

Sometimes, friends sponsor my sessions, but most of the time, I pay for studio sessions myself. Not enough paying shows around so you can imagine how tough it is for a young talent like me. It’s because of this that I’m selling my CDs. To raise funds to shoot music videos for “PROBLEMS (featuring Edem & Epixode) and also “Don’t Blow It” with Klem

Obviously, it doesn’t pay to be an artiste on the come up, right?

Obviously. Even when people request for free shows from you, they still feel like they’re doing you a favor.

The whole ‘exposure’ nonsense.

You know. Man’s gotta eat. Hajia no dey accept exposure for waakye.

What do you think needs to be done to help artistes like yourself? And as artiste, what are folks like you doing to change the situation?

I feel artistes on the come up need to be paid for performances; no matter how small. Also, the habit of BUYING MUSIC should be in vogue in Ghana. That will make artistes get enough revenue to keep putting out great work. This CD sales is just a start. Artistes should be able to build loyal fan base, organize their own shows, and market themselves well enough to be worth every pesewa the fans have to spend.

This need to build fan base I’m sure is what is motivating your tours. Are there other reasons as well?

Yes. The need to build a loyal fan base is a contributing factor. Also, the need to raise funds for music videos. As an independent artiste, I have to find various means of raking in cash to fund my movements and projects. Another reason is the need to make people understand that this is SHOWBIZ. Enough of the “Chale you be dope” and all fire emojis over social media. The real market is out there. Hit the streets. Give them a reason to pay for your music. Give them a reason to spend on you.

There are challenges of course. So, what keeps you going? What are the reasons for making music?

PASSION. Everyone who knows me know I’m very passionate about music. I’m also very persistent and perseverant as far as music is concerned. I love making music and I doubt if these challenges can stop me from pursuing my dreams.

My first introduction to your music was during Joy FM’s Old School Reunion in 2015. How did that happen? What did that moment mean to you?

Yeah. I remember that night. Awesome. Even though I wasn’t allowed to perform my own song, I put all the energy in that freestyle session. Dr. Pounds (a DJ with Accra based Hitz FM and very good guardian) helped push me there. I wanted to perform my own song but I was told there’s no slot for me. Only slot was inter-schools freestyle competition and I had to battle it out with another act prepping his school. I took the offer (with heavy heart) but I made sure I put my best in that performance.

You made an impression no doubt. I really remember that session and the crowd reaction. How and when did you get into music? Was there someone who inspired you to pick up the mic?

Obrafour, Okyeame Kwame (OK), Eminem, Nas, Trigmatic, Lil Shaker, Edem. These guys inspired me at different stages of my life. I used to listen to a lot of Nas, Eminem, Obrafour and OK when I was in Junior Secondary School. When I got to Senior Secondary School (SSS), I used to rap for my seniors just to escape punishment. To them, it was entertainment, to me, it was training.  After SSS, I learned how to produce and self-produced my first two mixtapes in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Then I started picking inspiration from Trigmatic, Shaker and Edem. Five mixtapes and dozens of singles later, here I am.

What was it about, Trigmatic, Shaker and Edem that inspired you?

Trig: from “My Joley”, “It Coulda Been You”, He was versatile-singing and rapping excellently. I wanted to do that.

Shaker: He was my favorite during the Skillions days. He’s the reason I downloaded the New Generation Mixtape and his Happy Birthday Mixtape. Wit and humor was something I wanted to emulate.

Edem: He defied all odds and broke through with a language that most didn’t understand. He proved that music was beyond language. That was worth emulating.

How will you measure your growth as an artist since you began till now?

I would say I’m in “THE BIGGEST ROOM IN THE WORLD”: The room for improvement. Every new song I put out is an improvement of the last one. I would say, I have really improved. My 2009 self would be proud of how far I have come. More growth ahead. Much more to learn.

Your music has carried some social themes. Your recent single ‘Don’t Blow It’ is an example. Why are such themes of importance to you?

I believe the mic is very powerful and everyone who has access to it has the responsibility to EDUCATE, alongside the usual entertainment. Just like my mentors, Obrafour & Nas tackled social issues with precision. I’m also following suit.

Back to your tour, you chose to perform at some SHS. Is there a reason to that?

I performed at Mawuli Senior High School. That was my Alma Mater. I was there for the 10 Year Anniversary of a certain year group, and as a former entertainment prefect, I had to entertain them. I enjoyed it as much as they did.

What have you learnt during these tours? And what was the highlight for you?

I learnt people are willing to help. You just need to make the effort. Also, if you add value to yourself, people will be willing to pay for your works.  I’ve also learnt to connect with people on a personal level, winning a loyal fan over; one person at a time.

Some of the highlights include this incident.  I was waiting for a car at Lapaz, someone called me from a bus, asked if I had some of the CDs on me. He bought one for twice the price and the bus left. I have people calling from as far as Brong Ahafo and Northern Region requesting for my CD because they saw it on social media. Yo, the love is real. I can feel it. I’m grateful to God and to every single person who is supporting me.

 I’m very happy for you. That clearly shows you are not only growing but getting recognized for your work

Thank bro. Small small

Tell me about your music making process like?

My music making process starts off with a lot of soliloquy. Then I put the ideas into writing. I get to the studio and I’m very particular about the beat. If it’s nowhere near what I imagined when I was writing, I’m not recording till “WE”(the engineer and myself) get it right. I’m a perfectionist, so I like to take my time to make sure the work I put out has minimal flaws. I criticize my work a lot at the writing stage.

What’s the future plan for Kula going forward? What should fans expectations from you?

In the nearest future, a music video for ‘PROBLEMS’ ft. Edem & Epixode, and a lot more to come.  An EP early 2018. More great music as usual and steady elevation into the limelight. #BoiWeiPaa

 

Meet GHOST: The Bass Head who believes in experimentation

We live in an age where a producer’s name doesn’t only live on the album sleeve or cover of a musicians work. Producers are leaving their signatures (taglines) on songs, and it is rightly appropriate. With the ever increasing dwindling fortunes of physical album copies and more digital releases, producers are not enthused with just their name on a sleeve. They are trundling with the times, like the artists they work with or for.
That’s just one part.

The other part has to do with producers’ crossing over as artists themselves, through the release of albums or EPs. The reasons could run from angling for fame to recognition, depending on who the producer is. This producer-artist phenomenon is now part of the music culture and they are reaping the benefits.

But, there still are producers who don’t want to deviate from the old status quo. Of course, they are aware of the new paradigm. Yet, they choose to stay orthodox. They won’t leave their signature tagline on songs. Crediting them on the song/album credits is enough. Staying ‘ghost’ is enough.

That kind of producer is who GHOST (born Jerome Kojo Boateng) loves to remain. His imprints have been on many songs or albums, either on or under the producer credits or mastered credits. His recent work was on Bryan The Mensah’s excellent ‘Friends With The Sun’ EP, where he played the role of a producer and a mastering engineer.

Considered by some of his peers as one of the best producers around, 26-year-old Ghost, who also goes by the “LXXXVIII’ moniker didn’t jump into the world of music production at first. He started out as a rapper in high school. ‘Well, I began my music career initially as a rapper, later ventured into producing’. His decision to quit rapping and be a producer wasn’t motivated by the inability of producers to craft the perfect beats for him to rhyme on. Rather, it was a friend who introduced him to the field.

And when I asked if that friend taught him the rudiments, he answered in the negative. ‘Actually, nobody did. I kind of always had my thing with music from an early stage. But I was hugely inspired to venture into production by a producer friend named Lorshee, who gave me a copy of FL Studio at the time. So I went home, installed it and started experimenting till date.’

A product of Central University, Ghost began producing music in 2009, after high school back in 2009. He took it more ‘seriously in 2013 when I was in college (Central University)’. Since then, he has worked with both A-List Ghanaian and Nigerian artistes including EL, Ice Prince Zamani J. Town, Cabum, Dee Moneey, Scientific (LIB), Ankwanda.

Despite working with some well-known artists, Ghost, who produced EL’s trap anthem ‘Lalafalama’ still considers himself ‘upcoming’. And during our interview, one quality was obvious: his shy nature, which he’s conscious about. When I asked him to describe himself, a simple question that often solicits a winding answer, Ghost’s reply confirmed his shyness, something he describes as ‘a constant battle for me every day’. ‘So Ghost 88 is an upcoming producer/artiste, a huge bass head and definitely makes synchronized noise’, he punctures his comment with a laugh before adding, in third-person, ‘He’s a humble guy, mostly nervous and shy. Also hella goofy and jovial if you get to know him more plus he loves to give back!!’. That shyness was also a reason in him shelving his rapping skills from a lot of people even though ‘I could even spit some ‘bars’, Self-doubt  also played its part, ‘I really didn’t think I was “Faya” enough.’’

Picking up names especially as an artist or producer (if you don’t want to go with your real name) takes a lot of consideration and are sometimes fueled by events or situations. In the case of Ghost, the latter was the case. He settled on his moniker because he wasn’t getting the expected recognition for his work. ‘During my early days of production, I’d worked, collaborate and helped other producers on projects without being credited in any form hence the alias “GHOST THE PRODUCER”. I later threw in “LXXXVIII” because it’s my favorite number. The number ‘88′ is believed to a lucky number in Chinese mythos’.

The lack of recognition left him feeling disrespected thus his decision to go out as a full time producer. He explained the situation further: ‘I wasn’t happy. I mean who wouldn’t be considering how much time and efforts you’ve spent into making their product lit. But at the same time, I looked at it positively as well because it gave my story so much depth and more experience. The exact reason why I’m full time producing (although) I was going to do that sooner anyways’.

That quest for respect is one reason Ghost is planning on releasing his debut project with fellow collaborator and producer Chris, together known as Synchronized NoiZe. The four track EP- Miusnderstood-is, as he describes ‘an experimental project that leans heavy on electronic music. It’s a mix of Bass music (which I make) with Disco funk(Chris’ specialty)’. For Ghost and Chris (whom he clicked with after a studio session together), they chose to go this route with their project because ‘we wanted to break away a little bit from the usual trend in West Africa, where it’s either trap or an afro pop thing. You know, to be more experimental’

Bass music isn’t huge in Ghana or across Africa so it was curious for me that Synchonized noiZe would choose to produce an EP that leans towards that genre. So, when I asked him how he became interested in Bass Music, Ghost revealed where it came from. ‘I first fell in love with bass music back in 2014 when I first discovered Flosstradamus, an electronic duo. Man! They were killing everything out there at the time’. Aside Flosstradamus, Ghost is also influenced or inspired by producers like Drvmroll, Sosa, LeMav, Rvdical the Kid, 7th Artist (Chris) and IllKeyz. Internationally, Quix, Fabian Mazur, Getter, Monxx and Luude are his inspiration. When I told him I didn’t know most of the foreign producers mentioned, he let out a guffaw before answering, ‘I know you wouldn’t be familiar with them’. He further added ‘everything about their work: creativity, sound design, structure and their personalities’ are the flicker that light up his creative path.

Ghost, like some of his producer friends have been vocal on the subject of how artists treat producers, which are mostly contemptuous. The subject ranges from no payment to not properly credited on songs. When the issue was broached once again, Ghost was straight forward with his views. ‘Man, they just playing themselves at the end if they really wanted their brand to grow (which most don’t even have brands to begin with). It’s mostly common among the mainstreams and I’m disgusted by it truth be told. And only if you knew my hustle with it because it’s a daily source of income for some of us. We got bills to pay, mouths to feed and isn’t a game for us but I wouldn’t be fair if I only pointed at artistes only for this. Producers aren’t valued for their work because of the saturated market of young producers who want to get famous so bad that they throw beats for free left and right to artists. The major reason I‘m not an artist producer anymore. I AM THE ARTIST!’

Even though I had seen his handle on my timeline, it wasn’t it until I saw fellow producer Drvmroll mention him in a tweet that awoken my curiousity. Within the same period, I saw another favourite producer of mine, Yung Fly comment on how Ghost’s 808s could shatter studio speakers. For Ghost, he regard such compliments as coming from friends rather than competitors, ‘’I will like to start off by saying these guys are awesome. Plus it’s definitely a great feeling to have guys like these not only giving me props but supporting me in anyway. No pressure at all because I’m originally dope (laughs). Just kidding. They are real close friends to me. We goof around. One of the few people I open up to’.

How did he, a producer on the come-up, managed to earn production credits on the albums of some of the artists mentioned earlier and the experience that came with it. ‘Few of them did contact me. Some, I had to reach out to make it happen. But, some of them were possible via recommendation by close fam who were also in their circle or knew them personally. The experience is an awesome one! Let me use this example for instance, it’s like this kinda high, once you achieve it, you never wanna get back to being sober again because it’s boring (laughs). You always wanna be that high, constantly!’

How do you prepare for such studio sessions with the likes of EL and Sark for instance? Do you have sleepless nights till it’s done? I asked. (Another laughter) ‘I Just bring my A game and laptop along with me like I normally do. I’m willing to do any amount of work on the project till it’s done irrespective of the artist. I’m mostly active at night so no biggie

Although no date has been fixed for the released of Misunderstood, Ghost has released three songs that foreshadows what he and Chris may be offering. On what the future holds, Ghost outlined three things he wants to see happen:

First, ‘West Africa being recognized not only for our afro beats or sounds but electronic music as well.’

Second, producers should experiment some more, something they aren’t doing. Currently, the ones who are, are being slept on. It’s shocking!’

Third, ‘more releases, more collaboration, more moves and prayers. With time my hard work will be rewarded’.

There are a handful of producers who have helped changed the soundscape of our time and from the conversation with Ghost, he has the ambition to not only introduce a new wave of sound but also push his name within the ‘who is who’ canon. Pushing the envelope of sound, experimenting with other musical influences is one of the foremost tools of creativity within his production vault.

Ghost knows a producers’ death knell is when they become static. And with the evolution of sound happening faster than a blink of an eye, one has to catch up, and fast. Hence his rhetorical question: ‘If you aren’t experimenting with your art as a creative then what are you doing?

Listen to his latest single ‘Entirely Sho’ feat Ansah Live

Why they became fans? 6 Sarkodie fans share their story ahead of ‘Highest’ release

Tomorrow is a big day for Sarkodie. And even more huge for his fans. Tomorrow, September 8th is the day his much anticipated fifth studio album, ‘Highest’ will be released. 

An 18 track album produced almost exclusively by Jayso, ‘Highest’ is expected to cement Sarkodie’s legendary status within the music stratosphere. Regarded as the biggest rapper in Ghana since his appearance on the scene in 1998, Sarkodie has solidified his position with each album, single and features.

‘King Sark’ as he’s known, has, across these years, built for himself a catalogue so huge compared to any of his contemporaries. From Ghana Music Awards trophies, to BET Award, and other prestigious accolades, Sarkodie’s name toll louder across Ghana, Africa and the world when African rap music is being spoken about. 

Despite the success of his songs and albums, releasing a new body of work comes with it’s own pressure and uncertainties like how impactful it will be on the culture, and what the critics would say. From all indication, ‘Highest’ may be the most anticipated album of his almost decade long career. 

In our quest to gauge fans anticipation, we asked five Sarkodie fans to share how they became part of ‘Sark Nation’ (his fanbase name), what attracted them to him and what they expect from the album.                                                                       ————————————————-

Name: @Khadinal1

Town/City : Tema

Gender : Male  

It was easy to tell how big Sarkodie would be in the future”                                            

To start it with, I have known and followed Sarkodie right from High school (he was my Senior in school so it helps). It was easy to tell how big Sark would be in future upon listening to his raps way back. Sarkodie has been in the music scene for close to a decade now and yet, it feels he came into the game just a year ago and the reason behind that is his craftiness, dynamism, versatility, good branding and constant learning.                   

”It’s mostly difficult and near impossible to penetrate the boarders of Ghana with music made in the local dialect, Sark defied that odd and won the heart of countless people all over the world with his songs. I don’t even have to talk about the number of features he’s made on both foreign and local artists tracks on regular basis. To sum everything up, Sark is a complete musician and gives people who patronize his songs value for their money. All essential elements that makes a song complete and authentic are imbibed in Sark’s songs-both talking of accurate rhyming, relevant subject, flow, advice, humor and skills. 

Sark is a prolific artiste who always makes his fans enjoy good music constantly unlike other artiste who stay dormant for a longer period before dropping another tune. No wonder Sark’s fan base keeps multiplying with with each day that passes by”.

Twitter Name: @adwoa_sark.

Town/City: Accra

Gender : Female                                                        

I feel special being a Sarkodie fan”

I became sark fan since 2007. His style (his way of rapping) got me attracted to him. Being a Sark is a blessing. I feel it wouldn’t have been the same if I wasn’t his fan. I feel special been a Sark fan. For the album, we expecting more than you can think of. We aiming really high with this album. We not limiting it to only Ghana. Both international and local awards will be won with “The Highest’ Album. We (sarkfans) believe in God and In Sarkodie.’

Twitter Name: @shawnybills.

Town/City: Undisclosed

Gender:  Male              

”Being a Sark fan I can escape my world in the duration of his songs”

I became a Sark in 2007. A friends DJ introduced me to his music. Him rapping about life and being positive attracted me to him. Being a Sark fan means I can escape my world in the duration of his songs. Sarkodie has done than it all when it comes to music. I’m expecting the album to hit platinum.

Name: Prince Young (@PRINCE_SARK1)

Town/City:  Accra

Gender:   Male     

I became a fan of Sarkodie because of his style of rap”

I have been a Sark fan since Kasahari time  but we officially formed a group called #SarkNativesGh as a fanbase for Sark and I’m their PRO. I became a Sarkodie fan because of his style of rap- it was not new in the system but his was different and his story lines. He will rap and make you laugh and punchlines were on point.

Name: Kwesi Brew D’Highest (@KwesiBrew1).

Town/City: Takoradi

Gender : Male                                   

The track that got me to love Sarkodie the more was ‘Life’ featuring Obrafour”

2009  was the year I became a fan. Actually, the first time I saw Sark was on Edem’s ”Keva’ song. But, the track that really got me to love Sark the more was ”LIFE” ft Obrafour. His passion for his works won me over. Identifying as a Sarkodie fan means a lot; the bragging right alone. It’s a huge feeling. As for the album, it’s all the way to the Grammys.

Name: Stanley Edem Adjoda aka Stan Edd (@staneddmusic)

Town/City : Tema

Gender: Male

‘I loved listening to Sarkodie because of how he could tongue-twist and I could hear everything’

I first heard of Sark on Triple M’s song ‘Yawa Boy’, a reply to R2bees ‘Yawa Girl’. But I didn’t pay much attention to it. Till I heard him again on Ayigbe Edem song ‘ You Dey Craze’ (Keva). That’s when I was like wow. Who’s This?! And yeah, a lot of people actually waited for Sarkodie’s line on that song.

I loved listening to Sark because of how he could tongue twist and I still could hear everything. I used not to love  hip hop and the whole rap thing till I started listening Sark. I appreciated Sark’s rap even beofre Jay-Z’s because of the twi and becos I could relate with what Sark usually spoke about. He doesn’t repeat his concepts and his story lines are interesting, funny and easy to relate to. Plus, he’s a Tema boy. I am a musician myself, I sing  and I must say he is one of the guys who has inspired me to actually go in for this music thing. Being a Sark fan is a good thing. He never disappoints and the fact that he makes me win my arguments.

And let’s be honest, Sark is the first rap act to let us understand the whole making music a brand. Before that, it was more of getting fame, money and some baby mamas that’s all. But Sark changed the game. With the album, I’m looking for something out of this world; something more than what we’ve heard. He always has his own pace and the trend he sets. Looking forward for a different sound that will set a new trend. And, he working with Jayso, I know this will be the album of the year.

Interview: Eff The DJ displays complexity in simplicity

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All photos via EffTheDJ’s IG

If you’ve ever been to any of the weekend raves that the city offers, you’d probably have danced to the playlist of one of the best DJs in the city. For years,  has built his reputation as not only a music head but a DJ with impeccable music policy that spans across the genres of hip hop, hiplife, afrobeats, pop and all that is in between.

A few weeks ago, the love extended to him on social media when he celebrated his birthday was enough attestation to his value as a person and a DJ. The Ashesi University graduate who happens to be the resident DJ for Serallio and nKENTEn’s ‘DecafLive’ podcast events describe himself in the following words: The chill, calm, DJ everyone knows’.

Djing wasn’t Eff The DJ’s first love, although he has been a music fan since childhood. He started out as a dancer: ‘I started as a dancer, all through junior and high school. This obviously contributed to my ear for music’. His attraction to the art of DJing happened after witnessing DJ K3V (his now #IFKR collaborator) and Kobby Ankomah-Graham playing at different events respectfully.

Days after celebrating his birthday, I got him answering a few questions about music and the DJ business in Ghana. In this interview, Eff shares his first DJing experience, tips on how to grow, Kendrick Lamar, how reading the crowd is a quality of a good dj and why he’d play a hype man for DJ Keyzuz in a DJ tag team battle.


For those who don’t know you. Tell us a bit about yourself

The chill, calm, DJ everyone knows (haters will disagree). I go by EffTheDJ, but my actual name is Franklin Digber. Love art, love music.

How long have you been DJing and what attracted you to choose this art form?

I’ve been doing this for about 4 years. I’ve been into music since childhood. I remember going over to my cousin’s place when I was young and taking their Michael Jackson CDs home to listen and dance along to the songs. So initially, I started as a dancer, all through junior and high school. This obviously contributed to my ear for music. We had the virtual DJ software on our computer at home but I never really used it. Fast forward to (Ashesi) University, we have a year group party and DJ K3V kills it. So I link up with him later and we started our small classes. My mind was made when we had another event at school and I heard Kobby Graham play for the first time. I said to myself, “this fire, I will play some”. And I never looked back.

The journey has been worthwhile I can see. With four years experience, do you remember the first time you DJ’d and how was your first experience like?

 (Long laugh). Very vividly. Yeah, it was another campus party. At this one, they shared “Poki” (you know the old ice cream thing, right?) I was so nervous. I’d say I hadn’t really learnt to read crowds yet so I came with a completely different vibe. You know how these things go, there’s a section of the crowd which usually is a wild minority waiting for a different vibe so I was feeling myself and all, then suddenly someone threw poki at me in protest . I’m still searching for the Person. Stress chale (laughs).

That obviously threw you off

It did. I was ready to pack up but Baylor and K3V encouraged me to stay, because these things happen.

Talking about reading crowd, how important is that awareness to a DJ?

Very, very important. Reading the crowd accurately makes your job up to like 40% easier. The rest is keeping your reading up, challenging yourself, and giving an experience — and depending on the crowd, challenge their ears.

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What exactly does a DJ look out for when reading a crowd?

(Hesitates), various things. I don’t think it can be standardly defined. For me, I look out for the ambience of the event, the personae of guests, what a day in their life is like, what they probably listen to, what they want to hear, what you feel they haven’t heard in a while, and what you think will make them go nuts if they hear for the first time.

How would you describe the Ghanaian audience? Are they hard to please or easy to win?

Ever since I started playing, I’ve been exposed to various audiences, so it’s hard to call this. But, I’ll say there are different audiences. Some are easy, some are hard. It really depends on where you find yourself flourishing.

For indoor I try to set a mood. For outdoor, I try get people to vibe. Someone passing by should be able to chill and nod along, even if they don’t care about what’s going on.

The first time I saw you was at The Republic Bar some years back. Your playlist was what gripped me. How do you curate a playlist for the events you DJ? Say an outdoor event and a private or indoor one?

Oh thanks. Truth is I hardly curate playlists for specific events. When I do, I note the kind of music I think will work for them and try it. If it’s working, I continue, if not, I wing it. And whether indoor or outdoor, it depends on the kind of people present. But usually for indoor I try to set a mood. For outdoor, I try get people to vibe. Someone passing by should be able to chill and nod along, even if they don’t care about what’s going on.

What has been the best event you’ve DJ’d thus far?

Best event. I’d say back in 2015. I think, one FXP Takeover night at Republic (probably the session that birthed #IFKR). If you’ve ever been there on a very wild concert night, imagine the same energy for a regular Friday night. We really made the waiters’ job difficult that night, and that was the first time I moved a crowd with hand gestures, and no mic. Never felt more powerful.

Let’s talk about #IFKR. You guys dropped two songs earlier. What’s going on?

Yeah, we hit a couple of bumps on the way but we’re on track now. The EP is on the way. We’re just wrapping up now. It won’t be too long.

 How much music do you have (bytes wise)

162 giga bytes

That’s some huge library. It’s understandable

(Laughs) it’s a personal thing. It’s hard to delete music

As a DJ what are some of the challenges you encounter in your trade?

As a DJ in Ghana, you are literally the party, but you can still somehow get taken for granted. You’re not well taken care of or you’re underpaid.

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With your experience as a party DJ and having been a radio dj, is there any difference? If yes, in which areas?

Playing for radio is a more controlled environment. There’s so much liberty in being a radio DJ. Also a wider opportunity to introduce the audience to new music, and also an opportunity for the DJ to build a fan base. Depending on the kind of party, you’re either playing what the guests came to hear, or what you feel like. As I said earlier, the audiences vary.

DJs are seen as the guys who can make or unmake an artistes. How valid is this observation?

Yeah, I kind of agree. Traditionally, music comes out, and DJs keep it on rotation for people to get used to, and then that makes the artist. But more recently, due to various channels of information flow, artists have been able to make themselves. There’re various ways but the seemingly more efficient ways are using the internet, and by using the street route. If people like your stuff on the internet, they’ll want it played and it might not have to do with the DJ at all. Same for music that’s hot in the streets.

That’s a very solid point. I also share the same view. How do you prep for an event?

I try to get a practice set in at least a day before, speak to any DJ I know who’s done a similar event for tips. And a lot of thinking

Aside K3V, which other DJs excite or challenge you to be better both in Ghana and outside?

In Ghana, easily Kobby Graham, Keyzuz and DJ Putin. Kobby’s crates are just wild, Keyzuz’ technique is impeccable, and Putin’s crowd control is unreal. Outside, Diplo (and Major Lazer) is/are my guy(s). DJ’ing and productions blend so many sounds and cultures together. It’s just beautiful. Not forgetting DJ Black. I listened to the ‘’Open House Party’’ while growing up and his consistency and keeping up with the times over the years has been amazing.

What does the future hold for you as a DJ?

I dey streets chale (I’m still grinding), I don’t plan on looking back anytime soon

Why should an event organizer choose Eff The DJ over any others?

I try to channel an experience through the music as much as possible. You know, umm, displaying as much complexity in simplicity.

What does music mean to you both as Eff The DJ and Franklin?

A tough question. Music is a form of self-expression. It means so much, ‘cos there’s a million things you pick up. And as a DJ, it’s a million things you express yourself with through the music, which connects with your audience and that influence their self-expression. It’s a million connections of emotions.

What advice would you give your son should he aspire to be a DJ?

Practice every day, Keep an open mind, Experiment more, Embrace Ls (losses), Mind your brand, Focus. Eat before your gigs. Drink water. Most important of all, have fun while you do it.

You’re one of the three stans of Kendrick Lamar I know. Can you share what exactly you like about him?

Ayy, who are the other 2?

@7Giocondo and @vinkyenkyehene

(Laughs) there’s @Kobby_Skywalker and @DaniellePrime_ also. But yeah, Kendrick’s writing, storytelling, feature and LP execution is just so great. You’d think it’s a different artist sometimes. Also love how well he stays out of the news. You usually only hear news about how well he’s doing with his craft, and has been able to achieve so much. Close to everything is thought through, through and through.

You listed some of your favorite DJs earlier on. If you should draft one to partner you in a DJ battle, who will it be? Reasons

Easily, my auntie. Keyzuz will play and I’ll be her hype man

Lastly, what don’t you like about GH artistes and the music out there? Last words

Your last question is a bit hard to answer. Apart from some artists making the same songs over and over (which happens everywhere else), there’s not much I don’t like about GH artistes. I like that the new crop are creating their own lanes, and aren’t necessarily playing by the traditional rules. And I love the new wave music out there. Can’t wait to peep the scene in the next like 4 years.