One of the first sub-Saharan nations to claim its independence from colonial rule, Ghana has a thriving, powerful music scene. Its many tongues and tribes have contributed to an array of commanding hip-hop and rock collectives, including these five that are enthralling us. Check ’em out.
La Drivers Union Por Por Group
Incessant honking is a familiar, often obnoxious, everyday element of the Los Angeles commute. But when it comes from Ghanaian drivers, it sounds joyous and proud. These pre-Uber and Lyft unionists composed songs to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Ghana’s independence, signifying the vibrant heartbeat of Accra and cities beyond. (Thank you to the Smithsonian Institute for the recommendation.)
Long in the production game, Fimfim combines dramatic rhythms, over-the-top instrumentals and pugnacious rhymes—in multiple languages. He’s got the mainstream, worldly appeal of Kanye West and the historical perspective of a Ken Burns documentary. His online biographies stress his connection to the Accra streets—namely its peoples—by his charitable contributions to his society. His newest track, “Donkomi,” is out now.
It’s been said that freedom isn’t free, and electronic artist M3NSA ponders his country’s autonomy in “How Far,” a pulsing number made with Hungarian beatsmaster Elo. Like so many global musicians reconsidering their place in this transitional world, REDRED revere and revile their homeland. To question authority is to be patriotic, M3NSA suggests in this multilingual song from 2016. He and Elo aim to make listeners tape their toes and rethink their perspectives. (Thank you to AccraDotAlt for the information!)
Brassy and confident, Becca is a high priestess of Afropop. Her career has included stints on the competitive TV show Mentor and as an ambassador for HIV/AIDS nonprofits. Being in the spotlight, she’s had her share of controversy, including her father allegedly disowning her for her marriage to her manager. But her stunning alto and hubris are what make Becca such an essential part of the Ghanaian music scene.
“There is space in the world for whatever you want to do if it’s positive,” proclaim ferocious rockers Dark Suburb in the description for their latest video, “Hating.” It’s a “let and let live” anthem that rides on metallic guitars and muscle-bound drums—think Living Colour meets Linkin Park. Their front man goes by the title of Chief Priest, and their message is inclusivity; sex, age, religion, locale… none of it matters to Dark Suburb, as long as you’re feeling their groove. Their most recent album is called The Start Looks Like the End.
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