Video

Credit: @JamesFramed

How I Made Kojo Funds' Epic Afro Swing Music Video For 'Stallin'

British-Ghanaian director Gerald Sagoe breaks down how he created the music video for Kojo Funds' "Stallin'"

Kojo Funds is one of the leading name's coming out of London's flourishing Afro Swing movement. The buzzing artist just released the striking new music video for "Stallin'," which paints a vivid portrait of the paths young, black British people can choose to take while challenging the audience's perceptions.

Below, music video director Gerald Sagoe of So Fraiche, tells us how he set up, shot, and delivered this epic new music video.

All photos by @JamesFramed and @kd_visuals.


Hearing the newly released song/single, "Stallin'" by Kojo Funds, it initially struck me as a gritty anthem that would excite the streets and have everyone blaring it from their cars. I was excited to undergo this project, taking a step back from working on global brand projects within my company, So Fraiche Media, to produce not just a music video, but a movie.

Kojo Funds is the pioneer of Afro Swing, a genre that is permeating culture globally. Representing the eclectic Afro Swing of sound, this style of music was birthed in the most deprived borough of East London, also the birth place of Grime music. As the director, I persisted to stay true to the sound by shooting in a London Estate, with its striking tower blocks and open space that would evoke a concrete jungle and create an artistic, eye-catching and thought-provoking visual, a portrait coming to life. Combined with a stark black-and-white aesthetic, it created a classic 'film noir' look.

Credit: @JamesFramed

Raised in Britain and being Ghanaian myself, I realised that Afro Swing represents the time we live in, where there is a new sense of African pride. We are influenced by our heritage, inspired by the cultures of the entire diaspora; from the sounds of Afrobeats, to Hip-hop, Bashment and Dancehall—a hybrid of Caribbean, African and London culture have led to create this movement.

I wanted to deliver a message and a unique video; presenting the paths young black men can choose and challenge what people are expected to see in the context of a music video like this, as well as our own prejudices as a society. The story starts with a bag being placed in a car, holding a symbolic value, the viewer should not realise the purpose till the end of the video. Just like artwork in an exhibition, the video is meant to be left to the interpretation of the viewer, provoking their thoughts.

Credit: @JamesFramed

Focusing on the zeitgeist within London with its rising rate of violent crime, I felt it was important to tackle the video in this way, challenging the social climate and the mentality of young men depicted, who are ultimately trapped in a cage (a metaphor depicted in the video during an epic brawl). Kojo Funds is very talented and amazing to work with as he's laid back and happy to take direction and give everything he can. He has tremendous acting qualities and I told him that he's similar to Tupac, as he's extremely versatile and can switch from charismatic lady killer to gangsta effortlessly.

Shooting the video in a different style outside of the norm was important for its direction. Opting to shoot in super slow motion, with a phantom camera intended for the shots to jump out at the viewer, leaving them fixated. I drew from different sources of inspiration, from Kendrick Lamar's visuals, to iconic photos of DMX, to classic films. Every single shot was thought out thoroughly, all in an effort to showcase something powerful and deliver a message through art.

Afro swing is set to be one of the UK's biggest cultural exports, with its international scope, irresistible melodies, and diverse influences. It is a reflection of the African diaspora and I look forward to it's growth and realisation. I'm currently working on a documentary-film on the subject and look forward to releasing that soon. My overall mission is to keep on pushing the bar in filmmaking, original content and inspiring the African diaspora globally.

Credit: @kd_visuals

Credit: @kd_visuals

Credit: @kd_visuals

Credit: @JamesFramed

Credit: @JamesFramed

Credit: @JamesFramed

Credit: @kd_visuals

Credit: @JamesFramed

Credit: @JamesFramed

Credit: @JamesFramed

Credit: @JamesFramed

Music

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A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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