Interview

Voodoo Pussy: Meet Azizaa, the Ghanaian Artist Challenging Western Religion

We talk voodoo, Yoruba spirituality and Beyoncé's 'Lemonade' with Ghanaian singer Azizaa.

Ghanaian artist Azizaa first bewitched us with her unique brand of "Voodoo Music" last year when she dropped the song and video for her single "Black Magic Woman." The singer vehemently criticized Western religion and what she believes is its toxic hold on Ghanaians. Her delivery was clever and assertive, and she had the stylistic prowess to match.


Not much has changed since then. The singer's conscious decision to embrace more traditional forms of African spirituality continues to guide her artistic endeavors and we continue to be intrigued. The singer says that her upcoming album Vodua will give listeners a deeper look into her complex spiritual world.

We got a glimpse ahead of time by checking in with the anomalous artist. We talk voodoo (of course), Yoruba spirituality by way of Beyoncé's Lemonade, and the creation of her aptly named new single, "Voodoo Pussy," which the singer describes as "an ode to women everywhere who know the power of their magic box."

Read the conversation below featuring photography by Dexter R. Jones.

Azizaa. Photography by Dex R. Jones.

Can you give us some background about yourself and how you got started?

I come from a family that sings, almost everyone is a musician in my family. It also stems from our culture. In the Ewe culture, there's a song for almost everything.

Can you tell us how voodoo has influenced your art?

I think voodoo is what I call art, because I am unable to find an English word for it.

Is there a difference between voodoo and religions like santeria?

I believe they're the same thing. Santeria is heavily influenced by the Orishas system from Yoruba culture whereas Voodoo is the ancestral way of worship from the Dahomey culture. It's technically the same or a similar form of spiritual practice from two different cultures.

What do you think of Beyoncé’s Orisha symbolism in her recent Lemonade release, does it make you feel better to have people more aware of the culture?

Absolutely! I was happy to see Lemonade. For me its an introduction of the African deities/Orisha to the masses.

Let's talk about "Voodoo Pussy" and the rest of the album. Tell us about this new release.

I recorded #VoodooPussy at Villain sounds in Ghana. It was produced by Kuvie, the same producer who produced "Black Magic Woman," then I brought it up to Brooklyn to RadianLab and got it mixed and mastered by Moni Delgado who also added some sick background vocals. Some songs on the album are produced by other producers. I like to experiment with how I create my sound and art, but I like to stick to the people I work with for the simple fact that my voice requires a sound engineer who gets it, besides, I don' t like special effects on my voice.

Azizaa. Photography by Dex R. Jones.

Your previous single "Black Magic Woman" denounced Christianity, will the rest of the album follow that theme?

Yeah, pretty much. The album is called VODUA which means "The Deity" so the album has a bit of a trap, where you get a peep into the demented mind of a "Black Magic Woman" and you get to see how I interact with the spirits I see and dance with.

What other projects are you working on right now?

I have a jewelry line called KORGA Pieces. 'Korga' means something beautiful to adorn the neck with, and as part of our culture the size of your neck piece speaks volumes about your elegance so it takes weeks and sometimes months to create a Korga piece. The black piece I had on my neck in the black magic woman video took 6 months to create and required 8 hours a day of work. I just introduced my intimate jewelry collection to the website

Keep up with Azizaa on Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram  and via her website.

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Courtesy of Universal Music Group.

In Conversation with Daniel Kaluuya and Melina Matsoukas: 'This isn't a Black Bonnie and Clyde film—our stories are singular, they're ours.'

'Queen and Slim' lands in South Africa.

Melina Matsoukas and Daniel Kaluuya are everything their surroundings at the opulent Saxon Hotel are not—down-to-earth and even comedic at times. Despite the harsh lights and cameras constantly in their faces, they joke around and make the space inviting. They're also eager to know and pronounce the names of everyone they meet correctly. "It's Rufaro with an 'R'? Is that how you say it?" Kaluuya asks me as he shakes my hand.

Matsoukas, a two-time Grammy award winning director and Kaluuya, an A-list actor who's starred in massive titles including Black Panther and Get Out, have every reason to be boastful about their achievements and yet instead, they're relatable.

The duo is in South Africa to promote their recent film Queen Slim which is hitting theaters today and follows the eventful lives of a Black couple on the run after killing a police officer. It's a film steeped in complexity and layered themes to do with racism, police brutality and of course Black love.

We caught up with both of them to talk about just what it took from each of them to bring the powerful story to the big screen.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Installation view of Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara © The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2020, photography by Anna-Marie Kellen.

The Met's New Exhibition Celebrates the Rich Artistic History of the Sahel Region

'Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara' is an enxtensive look into the artistic past of the West African region.

West Africa's Sahel region has a long and rich history of artistic expression. In fact, pieces from the area, which spans present-day Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, date all the way back to the first millennium. Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara, a new exhibition showing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, dives into this history to share an expansive introduction to those who might be unfamiliar with the Sahel's artistic traditions.

"The Western Sahel has always been a part of the history of African art that has been especially rich, and one of the things that I wanted to do with this exhibition, that hasn't done before, is show one of the works of visual art...and present them within the framework of the great states that historians have written about that developed in this region," curator Alisa LaGamma tells Okayafrica. She worked with an extensive team of researchers and curators from across the globe, including Yaëlle Biro, to bring the collection of over 200 pieces to one of New York City's most prestigious art institutions.

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This philosophy is what informs Sajjad's art. Using currency, the artist creates collages that tell ambitious stories about unifying countries. In 2019, he created the artwork for one of the best and most important albums to come out of the modern Nigerian—and African—music scene, Burna Boy's Grammy-nominated African Giant.

Sajjad got the idea to start using currency as an artistic medium in 2016, when stopping at a New York City bodega—"these little convenience stores on every corner that sell everything!"—where he saw that they had put up dollar bills on the wall from the first few people who had bought things there. It was at that moment something in him clicked and he realized how many powerful stories physical bills could tell and represent. Inspired by this, Sajjad began a journey of using currency and other mundane everyday objects to create art that tells a bigger story.

We sat down with the artist to talk about designing the album art of Burna Boy's African Giant, the power of currency and what the future holds for him.

Sajjad. Photo: Dan Solomito

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