A community of artists in the city of Kumasi have put their own spin on the hard-hitting rap sound, winning praise from Sketches.
Over the last 10 years, music from West Africa has enjoyed a surge in popularity, but it’s mostly been viewed by global audiences through a narrow lens. Various African genres have developed in recent years, but with the notable exception of the Lagos alté scene, these sonic developments haven’t piqued global interest as much as afrobeat – which is helmed by crossover stars like Wizkid, Davido, Burna Boy and Tiwa Savage.
But that is changing.
When Yaw Tog’s Sore went viral in September 2020, it brought much-deserved attention to the thriving drill community in Ghana’s south – and further confirmed drill’s journey from a niche subgenre to a global musical language.
Having emerged in Chicago as a scuzzy offshoot of trap in the early 2010s, drill later took off in the UK, where the sound gained heavy, grime-like basslines. With American rappers such as the late Pop Smoke, Sheff G and 22Gz tapping up London producers like 808Melo, AXL Beats and Ghosty, the UK sound then heavily influenced Brooklyn’s drill wave. And since late 2019, young people from Kumasi, the capital of Ghana’s Ashanti region, have put their own spin on drill, which is known locally as asakaa.
These rappers are detailing the survivalist themes of life in their ’hoods, taking ownership of broader cultural narratives around their existence and expressing themselves freely over ominous beats in a mixture of English, Akan and one of its dialects, Twi. In Kumasi, young people are seeking to forge a new cultural identity with their own interpretations of North American slang, fashion and gang-like communities, to the point that the city has been nicknamed “Kumerica” and some of its neighborhoods have been unofficially renamed after American areas (the Bantama suburb of Kumasi, for example, is known as “Florida”).
While elements of asakaa are gradually being co-opted into Ghana’s mainstream (where dancehall and highlife genres dominate), thanks to songs by heavy hitters like the Accra-based artists Joey B and Medikal, the trajectory of the scene is still shaped by Kumasi acts like Yaw Tog, Reggie, O’Kenneth and City Boy. Their music is more loyal to the darkness of the drill sound and documents the thrills of life in the Santasi neighbourhood where many asakaa rappers reside.
Here comes some of the key acts to get familiar with.
Calli Kingz Empire bring to us this brand banger from its frontline artists Yhaw Ice X Jay Blay and they call this one “ALL MA NEGGAS” which was produced by Sketches. stream and download the jam below
Download this one here and add it to your playlist. Good music lasts forever. The Music was Produce by Sketches
Yhaw Ice ft Jay Blay – All Ma Neggas (Prod By: Sketches) [DOWNLOAD]
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