Ebibiman is the Akan name for the land of all black people-Africa. Akan, is not just the name of a certain community of ethnic groups here in Ghana (and in parts of Ivory Coast), but also the name of a young Ghanaian rap artiste who aspires to be an ambassador for Ebibiman-using his music as a medium. Akan’s debut release was an eponymous EP-which he has followed with a very poetic and soulful single titled Obiba JK. His body of work thus far presents him as a very thoughtful individual with questions, a purpose and a goal. In this yoyo tinz dialogue with Moshood, Akan talks about his reverence for Kwame Nkrumah, shares some of his personal philosophies, his perspective on certain concepts et cetera.
Who and what did you grow up listening to, in terms of music, stories etc.?
I grew up not listening to a lot of rap music at first, it was mostly Hi-life. Adofo, Sibo brothers, Nana Kwame Ampadu, and the likes. Until me and my friends started buying Obrafour, Lord Kenya and Kwaadee cassettes.
Which one would you rather hear at any given moment: Anansesem or Abakosem? Why?
I think there’s just a faint line between folktales and history; thus Anansesem and Abakosem respectively. Folktales is just another refreshing way of passing on history. As long as you appreciate history, you cant leave folktales behind. They work hand in hand.
What does culture mean to you?
Culture is identity. Culture is who you’re, where you’re from and where you’re going. One is lost without his/her culture.
In your songs, you talk a lot about finding and being yourself- concepts that are -arguably- quite vague. What does finding and being oneself mean to you, personally?
That has to do with finding your balance as a human. Finding that sanity towards good and bad. Knowing when to err and when to forgive yourself.
You’re very likely to come across as a somewhat philosophical person to anyone who listens deeply to your music. What are your philosophies of life? (Share at least one with us.)
As humans, we are highest in the order of creation, if i’m not wrong, and that’s instant blessing. We are powerful as human beings. Everyone with special powers. With that being said, what are we using these powers for ? Whats our purpose? What shall we leave behind when our world comes to an end ?
What compels you to use your craft as a medium of being an ambassador for Ebibiman?
I have to stand for something. Especially now that Ebibiman is loosing her kids to foreign influences. Its such a shame. What happened to our story? The culture, the taboos, the manners that makes us unique amongst other? And i want my music to send a message. I cant send any message better than the one i know. So i’m sharing the stories of our people with the next brother listening, so we can strengthen our roots. Cuz as i said, if we loose the culture, we are doomed.
How important is it to you that your music is utilitarian as opposed to making it just for making music sake?
Very important cuz I know someone is listening and looking at me. One day when i have kids, my little brother and sister, the young kid in my area, walking like i do, dressing like i do, i mean, looking up to me, if i fall, they fall. What am i teaching them ? I’m blessed with rap, what am i rapping about? I cant afford to rap just for rapping sake.
Kwame Nkrumah is referenced a good number of times in your music. What do you make of the man, his ideologies and his 9 year reign as leader of Ghana?
Oh yes. Nkrumah, one of the greatest to ever do it, and he happens to be one of my own kind. I look up to his legacy. He is a good example of a role model. His leadership, foresight and all. He lived a good life despite his flaws as a human. He left behind traits of good leadership worth following. He is one of the people i look up to as far as leadership is concerned.
If you had the chance to say just one thing to President Mahama, what would that be?
I’m not a politics person. I don’t know much about Mahama as a president but I think presidency is a big task, the entire country looking up to you is so much work. I think he should do all he can to serve the people of Ghana.
In one sentence, say anything at all about the art/act of tattooing.
Tattoo is another form of art. Body art actually. You go through pain to wear a tattoo, so if you wear one, it should definitely mean something important.
On one of your songs, you rap about how you hate rules. Add to that, most of the “akorabone” tales/references in your songs and one gets the impression that your life-or at least your childhood- was one of rebellion and of being unconventional and misunderstood. How true would that be, and where (+ when) did rap come in in all this?
Hahahahaha. I grew up rather calm and docile and that was how i was raised. We had this notion in our family, to be calm, cool and accept things how they were offered. I’m still cool tho hehe. Until i started asking questions, feeding my curiosity and standing for who I’m rather than who people thought I’m and should be. I mean, using music to express my thoughts and ideas. And that has been my biggest challenge. So the “Akorabone” reference, is standing for the new me, and questioning the rules we are made to obey.
Again and again, you say in your songs that you aren’t primarily in the game to sell or for the ‘frivolities’(for want of a better word.) Quite a number of artistes have surfaced making substantive, progressive music,only to find that route too ‘long’ and ‘dry’ and then succumb to making mainstream (most often, dance) music in the hopes that they get the fans, fame, money etc. they weren’t getting before. DIs there any possibility of Akan becoming one of such artistes?
You know, we all aim at becoming successful people, thats a universal dream. I mean the fame and wealth is no bad thing. Money is important for living. But lets check the successful X we want to be, the details of one’s success. I aim at inspiring people with my music and i want to be the successful musician who inspired people with his music. One thing about music is, when its good enough, no matter the genre, more people will eventually love it. And the reward ? of course, a good work done deserves a good pay so no need to divert at all.
What are the future project you are -and those that you will be- working on?
I think Akan E.P is gradually winning some new ears, people needs some good time to digest and get along with it, so I’m focused on getting as many people as possible to hear it but there is surely going to be something after Akan E.P.
Rap music is not……