Spotlight: How Digital Artist/Illustrator Feoisugly Went From Paying His Dues to Getting Paid His Dues

 

‘Time and communication, those are the major keys. It sounds obvious but if you slip up on those fronts, everything else crumbles’.

feoALT

For most illustrators or digital artists, comic strips are usually the fire that sparks their interest- their minds become the gun powder. But, for Prince Ampofo Bonsu, known as FeoIsUgly, his interest was sparked by watching cartoons as a kid. ‘’I was already a big fan of cartoons growing up. My mom recalls how I used to be glued to the TV whenever GTV had shows from The Cartoon Network on’’.

He turned to the reading of German comics late, courtesy his grandfather and uncle after discovering his drawing talent. ‘I got exposed to some German comics from my grandpa and uncle a little later. But I had started making some myself. So I was introduced to comics way later’’

The son of a procurement officer at KNUST and an entrepreneurial mother and pastor, FeoIsUgly knew what he wanted to pursue as a career at a young age. His parents, especially his dad, however, weren’t enthused by his choice. There was, however, one sure bet to unlock this situation. He had to keep his grades up. ‘’My dad was concerned that it may affect my grades, and the closer I got to B.E.C.E the more intense it was. But I managed to pass well to get into my first choice so he just let me be’’, he indicates.

Whereas his dad had apprehensions about his career choice, his mother has always been extremely supportive. ‘My mom has always been supportive though, but she made sure I was balanced’’. That consciousness for balance between academics and life has served him well. As he indicates, his interest in comic illustrations affected his academics resulting his becoming ‘a shadow of myself…but I think it’s alright at this point as long as I’m putting in effort where it matters’.

Now in his third year at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) studying Communication Design, FeoIsUgly, was born and raised in Amakom in Kumasi. The first of three kids, he studied visual arts in Kumasi Anglican High School (KAHS), where his Junior High School teacher, who introduced him to graphic design was his visual art tutor. Despite nurturing plans to go fully professional with his art, FeoIsUgly,, recognizes how school would hinder that. This didn’t stop him from taking his first step towards becoming a professional illustrator/graphic designer.

In December, 2017, he set up an art page on Instagram. ‘I had been making covers here and there before but I was more of a hobbyist or someone “paying dues “. His friend, VectorbyKwesi, an artist himself, kept whispering in FeoIsUgly,’s ears the need to be serious and take that step. ‘Fast forward, I’m here now’.

The friendship with VectorByKwesi resulted in them founding ‘’Two Tired’’, an independent art collective ‘mainly doing independent stuff’. Their work aside, the relationship has resulted in a healthy competitive sport between them. ‘’We have been low key pushing each other to get to the pinnacle’, he points out.

DPzEnw5WsAAwr9A

FeoIsUgly,’s remarkable talent has earned him recognition from some incredible artists in Ghana, Nigeria, US and Europe. Some of the artists he has worked with or for include AYAT, CJ Biggerman, Zarion Uti, Wavy The Creator. ‘Recently I made one (artwork) for Wizkid. It was a collaboration between me and Fawaz Concepts’, adding, ‘I’ve been making covers for artists based in the US, Denmark and Nigeria lately’.

He was part of the team, along with Kazaam and VectorbyKwesi –that designed Amaarae ’s ‘Passionfruit Summers’ cover; an experience he describes as ‘’a huge thing’’. Elaborating further, FeoIsUgly point to how the project offered him great exposure and marked his growth. ‘It was a major challenge and it took quite a while. I’m glad Amaarae was patient enough to see to it till the end’. The success of the project notwithstanding, designing the cover art for ‘Passionfruit Summers’ had both its highs and lows.

The cover took three (3) months to finish.  ‘’I lost vim (enthusiasm) in the middle stages because I wasn’t able to grasp the main vibe of the project’, he reveals. In his view, one of the highs was how the lounge scene came together. ‘I learned a lot from that project. It really changed everything; from colour to composition to even communication’, he confesses.

Sometimes being given a concept beforehand makes me feel a bit restricted in a box. Other times being given the freedom to create one leads to getting shot down quite a number of times, which drains some energy and eventually gets me back in the box.

Having the freedom to work as an illustrator or graphic designer is crucial to the final work that would be produced. In FeoIsUgly’s world, trading concept ideas is one of the ways to get a desired outcome. According to him, the artists ‘sometimes have a concept in mind and I just get to play with it or vice versa. Either way, I like to get their feedback through the process.’

Meet Hanson Akatti: Your Artistes Fav Artist!

On which process he prefers, his response was succinct: ‘I can’t say. They give varying results in the end most of the time. Sometimes being given a concept beforehand makes me feel a bit restricted in a box. Other times being given the freedom to create one leads to getting shot down quite a number of times, which drains some energy and eventually gets me back in the box’. FeoIsUgly explains again that, he generally ‘come up with at least two ideas. I discuss it with the artist and depending on their feedback I either scrap both or develop one. Sometimes I even merge ideas’.

DdUGn4vX0AAG8lt

One thing FeoIsUgly, likes to do-when he gets the opportunity- in order to achieve a desired result is to listen to the songs on the album to inspire an angle. ‘I have to listen to the song beforehand’. In his estimation, they ‘could’ve come up with something trippier if ‘we had heard some songs off Passionfruit Summers’, adding ‘there are some vibes you just cannot communicate with words. Some projects like the ones for Tinúké, Richie Benson and Zarion Uti were made after listening to the song and I felt much more confident making those (art covers)’.

My decision to talk with FeoIsUgly, was off the back of the artwork he created for AYAT’s ‘Di Asa’ single. According to him, AYAT wanted something ‘mundane and was specific about the average Ghanaian setting with kids playing’, hence the orange coloured, compound house setting with tenants indulging in various activities.

‘Time and communication, those are the major keys. It sounds obvious but if you slip up on those fronts, everything else crumbles’.

Within this short period working as a digital artist and illustrator, Feoisugly has become a believer in exploring and experimenting with other mediums of design like 3D and animation. ‘I’ve pulled off a number of portraits in the past as well, but I prefer to do stylized versions and not just replicate stuff or make them hyper realistic’. He has other dreams for the future including ‘hoping to start a comic series before the end of the year. I just need a solid writer and some time’.

DbVSsMUXkAA4h20DcEMFInXUAA5wFO

yeqqw9Ig_400x400 (1)

CJ Biggerman

To improve one’s craft is to be open to learning. This isn’t lost on FeoIsUgly who is planning to take up an internship gig at Mhoseenu, which he describes as an ‘exciting design studio (in Accra) during the upcoming vacation’, in his hopes to ‘get better, not just at art but living as well’. But first, he is determined to finish university before jumping whole hog into the artistic world.

‘Exposure is fine but as I keep saying, you can’t walk up to a shop and buy sneakers with exposure. So I decided if my art isn’t worth your money, it’s not worthy of my time either’.

For Feoisugly, the future of his industry is promising, despite some people being clueless about the value of art. ‘There is a section of people who are clueless about the value of art, those who will ask you for free stuff because it’s just a talent God gave you so it’s nothing major’. On the flip side, he acknowledges those who actually understand the value of art, indicating that ‘art is very important and it is everywhere, from education to entertainment. It’s just about finding what you can do and putting yourself out there. With festivals like Chale Wote and a number of art exhibitions, art is becoming a significant part of our culture. Not just portraits or commercial stuff but fine arts as well’.

DZOVXzFVQAE6OuPDdcppDtWkAMXLIj

Like any other artist on the come-up, he has experienced the ‘do- it- for- exposure’ mantra. He feels that ‘as long as the art is good, you’d be getting something valuable and I’ll get my exposure. Exposure is fine but as I keep saying, you can’t walk up to a shop and buy sneakers with exposure. So I decided if my art isn’t worth your money, it’s not worthy of my time either’.

On the question of which other illustrators inspire him, Feoisugly has a long list on which names like Kazaam! (@kaz_xix ), Bidemitata! VectorbyKwesi! (@KwesiismOtk Comic House! Christianity Daily (on IG is mighty trippy as well). Lwbv2001 (on IG), ilya Kuvshinov, Kim Jung Gi, Loish, King Spiff, Jeremy Decent, Kentaro Muira, Picolo, Hideaki Anno, Guweiz and Stephen Ward, Hanson Akatti and others’ feature.

Despite being involved in the digital art space for just a few years, Feoisugly, who describes himself as a ‘shy guy’ has picked up valuable lessons about the power of building relationships. ‘Time and communication, those are the major keys. It sounds obvious but if you slip up on those fronts, everything else crumbles. Also it’s important to network and build relationships, not just with potential clients but other artists as well. I’ve always been a shy guy and withdrawn to a degree but I’m learning how important that is’.

Find Feoisugly on IG: @feoisugly

On twitter:

 

Advertisements

Interview: Yung Pabi Discusses ”BushMan” And Why Honest Lyrics Matter

yp2

Yung Pabi performing. All photos via his twitter page

Ask Yung Pabi what music means to him and his answer is as direct as the lyrics he shares on his songs: “Music is the art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions by using rhythms and melody”.

Since the release of his socially conscious song ‘’BushMan’’, the rapper has seen his stock steadily rising. His name is becoming recognizable among music fans, earning him performance spots- he recently performance at the University of Ghana Drama Studio. He is scheduled to headline Serallio Sunday on 25th March, 2018.

‘’BushMan’’, a song about irresponsible fatherhood, has clocked over 2,500 plays on Soundcloud alone; an achievement Yung Pabi, real name Prince Addo Biney is delighted about. The positive reaction the song is courting isn’t just because of Yung Pabi’s incredible lyrical poignancy but, the relatable life story he weaved on ‘’BushMan’’. “I make music about everything; even stuff I imagine. About it being personal experiences, I feel the reason people are associating the song to my life might be because the story felt so true and emotional. But I am an artiste, I tell stories all I did was try to be better at my craft’’. In his view, the positive reaction is prove that ‘’Ghanaians pay more attention to lyrical content’’.

In 2017, Yung Pabi stunned many who watched his ‘’Phreakout’’ Performance at Alliance Francaise. Backed by a handful of dancers, he presented a dance interpretation of his lyrics, something many in the audience applauded. Yung Pabi understands the power of a well-choreographed performance: ‘’Anytime I go on stage, I don’t want my audience to hear the song actually, I want them to listen to me while I try to do something extra so they don’t feel it’s radio they’re listening to or say a regular artiste performing’’.

In this interview with Culartblog, Yung Pabi, a former St. Thomas Aquinas Senior High School student and Entertainment Prefect shares detail on how ‘’BushMan’’ was made and earning a M3nsa feature, his music writing process, musical inspiration(s) growing up, and why speaking on social issues is important to him.


First, how has the reaction to ‘’BushMan’’ been since its release?

The reaction to ‘’BushMan’’ has been overwhelming. I’m getting to meet new people and the feedback has made me realize Ghanaians pay more attention to lyrical content. I thank God for whatever is happening with ‘’BushMan’’.

I saw your tweet about performing at University of Ghana Drama Studio. How will you describe the experience?

The performance was awesome, the crowd related incredibly with me. Anytime I go on stage, I don’t want my audience to just hear the song. I actually want them to listen to me while I try to do something extra so they don’t feel its radio they’re listening to, or say a regular artiste performing. God bless whoever was there!

I feel the reason people are associating the song to my life might be because the story felt so true and emotional

Before we talk about the song content, how did Mensa get involved? How did it come about?

Okay interesting how though. You know what they say “M3nsa barely does features”. I asked Wanlov who I already have a song (Sobolo) with to find out if M3nsa will love to hop on my song. According to M3nsa, the song impressed him so while in Texas he bought speakers and produced this song in his apartment. He even tweeted about the whole story of how I got him on the song!

Is the song’s theme of irresponsible fathers from personal experience? What made you want to talk about it?

Thing is, I make music about everything, even stuff I imagine. About it being from a personal experience(s), I feel the reason people are associating the song to my life might be because the story felt so true and emotional. But I am an artiste, I tell stories. All I did was try to be better at my craft. It could be a true life story though and it could be my life too. I’m being raised by a single parent (my mum) so yeah partly related.

The inspiration behind this is that orphanages are getting filled up and that’s bad news for us. How do we curb that? Try to minimize the “I am not responsible for the pregnancy stuff”.  That’s the reason for the song, let’s focus on that instead of it being related to my life or not.

Mood, vibe and mission. Three keys to every song I write and will write. I am musician, unlike others, I don’t write with my mood alone.

This is fascinating cos listening to it, one might think it’s from your own personal experiences. A mark of an excellent artist. How do you write a song like this? Obviously something might have inspire you. But aside that, what’s the process like for you?

Mood, vibe and mission. Three keys to every song I write and will write. I am a musician and unlike others, I don’t write with my mood alone. Instead, I try to merge mine with the audience in my head. I imagine and try to create the very best vibe between us even though they are just in my head.

Vibe in my lyrical context is what is happening around me, what I see happening around or to you and what I think should be happening around us. Mission inspires me to write songs. Why should I put this song out? I want to try to curb things I think are not right in our world. I use my music as a tool to achieve that.  Reason I did BushMan is to talk about irresponsible parenting and child neglect. The orphanages are getting filled and that is rather sad. With both parents alive and fending for their kids there will be more space in the orphanages and also children will feel loved.

yp1

Having been rapping for some time now and seeing how your music is being received, what does it to you, your confidence and your overall artistry?

I have always been confident and I have always believed my time will come. I’m getting more attention now. I thank God for that. I’m rather motivated to do more good work, for the people have made me realize they believe in me. Yung Pabi is trying not to let them down. I value everybody supporting my music.

People attend shows to listen the artist and to watch him perform his songs. I am against miming. I feel it’s more like giving the crowd less than they deserve. If they want to hear your recorded version, they’d go download or stream it.

I saw you at BeatPhreak’s ‘’Phreakoutlive’’ last year and your performance was memorable. You performed live as well which isn’t easy. Is there a reason why you perform live? How do you prepare for a performance?

Oh thank you. I’ve always had encouraging feedback about my 2017’ ’Phreakoutlive’’ set. It humbles and urges me to do more. When I perform, I try to give my audience something different from radio. I usually perform with live band and sometimes the instrumentals of my songs. People attend shows to listen to the artist and to watch him perform his songs. I am against miming. I feel it’s more like giving the crowd less than they deserve. If they want to hear your recorded version, they’d go download or stream it.

I cherish my audience and I feel they deserve better. I love to see progress in my craft live band gives me that opportunity. Voice control, timing and stage craft are some of the benefits I get from live band performances. I call my team we draw a plan in line with the venue and the kind of audience I’ll be performing to but before that, I pray to God and the ideas are gifted to me by Him.

yppyp

 

 I feel you on this point. It’s important to speak about situations in society as artists or ordinary person. ‘’BushMan’’ is out. People are feeling it. What’s next for you? More singles to come? Any cohesive project coming anytime soon?

Yeah firstly, I am forever grateful to a God and to M3nsa and Wanlov. Shouts to everybody vibing to the song. More singles will come. A project, I feel it’s not yet time but you never know. Meantime we’re observing the progress of BushMan. We will drop a video if it does well! The latter is an exclusive.

I want my people to succeed with me. I aim to make my music have positive impacts on their lives and I want to everyone to see Yung Pabi not only as an artiste but a brother and a friend.

You’ve mentioned how you cherish your audience whether writing songs or performing. How do you intend to grow and leverage on your fan base?

First I prefer you call my fans my energy. They are ( T.Y.P.E.) The Yung Pabi Energy. Do more songs, promote them, do more shows and get more interactive with them. I also aim to help them in anyway. I can or lead to seek help for them. I believe this is a “hand go, hand come” situation. If you support me I’ll try to support you in your hustle too. I want my people to succeed with me. I aim to make my music have positive impacts on their lives and I want to everyone to see Yung Pabi not only as an artiste but a brother and a friend. TYPE will grow. I know we just have to keep pushing. I pray that my music in one way or another give people employment, peace and even make people feel loved.

I went like if I can’t sing like Daddy Lumba and Kojo Antwi, at least I can tell my stories like Okomfuor Kwaadae is doing.

Lastly, who’s Yung Pabi? What inspired you to do music or become a rapper? Which artists inspire you?

Yung Pabi is some guy in his corner trying to make his thoughts and ideas heard of through music. Yung Pabi literally is my name. The P in Prince, the A in Addo and the BI in Biney. The Yung is to signify I’m a youth.

My inspiration to do music is very weird. I grew up listening to Kojo Antwi and Daddy Lumba. I loved what they did so much but I didn’t have a singing voice. Then, I heard of one of the best to do rap music in the world, Okomfuor Kwaadae. I went like, if I can’t sing like Daddy Lumba and Kojo Antwi, at least I can tell my stories like Okomfuor Kwaadae is doing. That began my music journey. I later grew into admiring the works of many artistes hence looking up to them. Kanye West, Eminem, Naa, Talib Kweli, 2pac, Sarkodie and Obrafuor are some of the legends I looked up to.

Read: Review of BushMan

At what point did you take rapping professionally?

Initially, I was doing music for the ‘boys boys’ and the “fans”. Fast forward, I gained admission into the St. Thomas Aquinas Senior High School, exhibited my talent and by grace I started performing in other schools. Then it dawned on me that, I can eat from the gift God has given me. That was when I took music as a profession. Just by the way, I went on to be the entertainment prefect of the school’s 2013 year group.

What does music or rapping mean to you as a person?

Music is the art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions by using rhythms and melody. I feel music is a tool used to influence or improve upon moods and knowledge and what’s the real name of Yung Pabi.

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

IMG-20180212-WA0009

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.

Interview: Rapper Lykay Talks Music and His Projections For 2018

lyk

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.

 

lyy

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.

lyyy

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.

BRIGHT

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.

DCdABiLVYAEmZ9A

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