Ask any rapper of this generation who influences have been and the odds are that they will mention one these names: 2 Pac. Notorious B.I.G. It is however not the case with Terah AM, a relatively unknown name in Ghanaian rap circles. The budding rapper reveals in this interview that he is a “new school guy” who is inspired by the like of Kanye West, ASAP Roky and Joey Badass. Terah AM, who has two EP’s to his name (Pushing envelopes with producer Jumpoff, and THREE,) shares his religious views and also talks about his two tapes, his admiration for rapper Ru, hip hop music in Ghana, and a lot more in this dialogue with yoyotinz’s Moshood:
Why [the name] Terah AM?
Well, Terah is my first name and AM because that’s the name that describes God perfectly to me: Logically, if my Father is “I Am” then I also am an “I Am”.
What set you out on this journey of making music & how has it been thus far?
Tbh, it’s probably other artistes, I can’t remember what I was listening to at the time but I wasn’t exposed to hip hop at the time. I discovered my gift one Saturday morning playing with my dad’s radio. One of the fm stations had a call in show where you’d rap over a beat; that’s where it began.
So far so good, I was indecisive about a career in music for a long time. I became resolute just recently. But it’s been good, I’m now putting in all I’ve got, so I’m giving it some time to unfurl.
What did you set out to achieve with your debut EP, Pushing Envelopes & would you say you achieved that?
That tape was a makeshift tape, I released 2 songs randomly and my mate JumpOFF hit me up. He suggested the tape, so we made it basically to gain some clout.And yh, we were able to achieve that goal.
I’ve observed that Ru is [one of] your biggest inspirations when it comes to music. Could you tell a little bit more about this admiration?
Big s/o to Ru. He’s my homie, my brother, he’s my go-to guy. I’ve known him over a decade and I’ve been a fan since AOW days. I used to go to his place a lot and still do. He does these wicked freestyles of the top when he’s trying to write. His lyrics are mature and that’s what made me gravitate towards him. His thought process is amazing and his song MustAsh Is my favorite rap song till now.
Who [& what] are your other inspirations?
I’m inspired by anyone or everything I hear, feel, or experience. But by far it’s Jay Z. I was listening to only him for a year and some months, just him. But others also inspire me: Yeezy, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, ASAP Rocky, Ab-soul, Lupe Fiasco, Joey Badass,Travis Scott. I’m a new school guy. I wasn’t influenced by the greats from the early 90s like 2pac and Biggie. I grew up in a different era and sound.
You made a comment or two about religion in your song ‘Wish You Well’ and in ‘Rebeligion’ you had some questions for God. What are your religious views, Terah?
I don’t know my stand when it comes to religion: it’s a unifier in someways and at the same time a terror. Many things have been done in the name of religion. I believe like any other man made idea that religion has it’s strengths and weaknesses. I’m not religious, I’m spiritual. However I’m a Christian and I strongly believe in the authenticity of Jesus Christ.
Are you looking forward to getting signed in the future or you’re sticking to the indie route?
I plan to stay with the label I started with my mate JumpOFF. We formed Metro District together and have a vision for that. However if i land a good deal which will allow Metro District to be a subsidiary, then Yes.
You and a few other up & coming artistes are making some good music. All of it is being slept on, unfortunately. What do you think accounts for this, & do you have any ideas as to how works of guys like you who make substantive music can be brought to the fore?
Lol, it’s a two way thing, and to be frank it’s no ones fault. Making good music just won’t cut it: the right contacts is very essential, and that’s what most new artistes don’t have. Again. Djs and presenters only decide what or who to play to a certain extent. When the music is good and the street and fans are buzzing, the dj will have to play it.
I think there’s a lot of mediocre music online, so it’s easy for someone to look past you.
1) There should be some sort of filter system on our music websites and radio to do the selections. That way only the very best take the forefront.
2) I personally haven’t payed any payola to any DJ so I can’t validate it’s existence. However, if this truly exists then presenters and Djs should be intuitive enough to foresee a great artiste and his music, push the music so he/ she can reach his full potential. It is their job to bring to their listeners the very best.
3) There should be a strict body that validates and endorses new artistes and their crafts. The US has XXL freshman every year, so fans know who to look out for, we should have something of that kind. Most of the reviews I’ve read online about the music we make here is very skewed. It’s not substantial, and most of the folks reviewing the music have no criteria for doing so, that’s from where I see it. Lol
4) The industry bigs should also give a nudge to the new ones coming up more often. A more recent example is Joey B and Sarkodie endorsing pappy Kojo. That move made his career trajectory relatively shorter. He’s a lucky guy.
5) Finally, our systems should be structured properly. There should be institutions that govern the system so we can have accountability. Because of this lax in our system stakeholders and by SaveNewaAppz”> investors
cower when they have to put money into the music. This is guaranteed to take time but it has to start soon. I’m talking Charts, play logs etc. we are in for the long haul, we should make these goals.
What’s your take on the HIP HOP scene in Ghana?
I’ve been following hip hop in Ghana since 2005, and I’ve seen growth. The unfortunate thing is that it does not reach it’s full potential then some trend comes to steal all the attention. However in recent years, the likes of Sarkodie and E.L have helped the genre since they are among the industry bigs. Pappy Kojo and Joey B dropping their two records( wave and realer no) proves that Hiphop can be mainstream here In Ghana. Nigerian an SA artistes like Phyno, Olamide, AKA, etc are also helping to push the envelope further.
We need extremely good concert promoters for the hiphop community with good venues.
Describe the tape.
The EP is fresh, experimental and fun. We really didn’t have a direction for the EP. We were just wylin’ out In the lab.
Why the title (Three)? Because it’s got three song on there?
Yh, basically. We didn’t put too much thought into it. S/o to the homie NoDrumz tho. I can’t remember, but I think he brought the idea of the title.
On your debut EP, you had a song with Kwame Nsiah titled ‘Magic.’ And then on THREE, he’s featured on two out of the three songs on the tape. Perhaps there’s something magical about working with Kwame Nsiah? Do tell.
Kwame Nsiah is a good friend of ours . He happens to be in the studio when we have sessions. It’s a lil weird how we work in our studio; the beat keeps playing and whoever can throw in something dope gets on the record. It’s that simple. But yh, kwame is a dope rapper: he’s record “ our parents messed up” is one dope record and very relevant to our times, I vibe with it.
What’s next after THREE?
Well, JumpOFF and I formed a new label called “Metro District” so you’ll be hearing that name a lot. JumpOFF is scheduled to release his mixtape “before 24” in the first quarter of 2015. That’s the next project we are working on.From now till that time we will be entertaining you with dope music. We’ll be releasing a couple of songs before the end of December. Expect many dope tunes from us. That’s all I can say. And big shout outs to all the fans, Djs, presenters, radio stations and blogs helping us. We appreciate y’all.
Complete this: Rap music is NOT……
Rap music is not for the faint hearted? Lol.