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6 Ghanaian Artist to Watch in 2019

Featuring Darkovibes, J.Derobie, Cina Soul, this is a list of some of our favourite Ghanaian artists this year.

Stopping just short of predicting the future, our list of Ghanaian acts to watch in 2019 is based on the promise these artists have shown and the work they've done in the past year, all chosen from a wider pool of talents eager to establish themselves in the public's consciousness.

Read ahead for our selection of the Ghanaian Artists to Watch in 2019.

Follow our new GHANA WAVE playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.


J.Derobie

With just one notable song release to his name, J.Derobie is very much an upstart. But he arrives with credible co-signs from Popcaan and Mr Eazi, whose emPawa initiative thrust him onto public consciousness. "Poverty," his self-penned first single, is receiving wide attention for its themes of triumph over trying times and the seeming authenticity of his dancehall credibility. Plans for future releases are yet to be announced. So far confirmed is a "Poverty Campus Tour" slated for this year—all of just one main single.

Cina Soul

The 22-year-old Cina Soul possesses a searching voice that soothes and uplifts, but more frequently invites introspection and melancholia. This is evidenced all throughout her 5-track EP, Ga Mashi, released last November as the follow-up to 2017's Metanoia. Ga Mashi is titled after her origin city in Accra. The six-minute video for its first single "Ojorley" (meaning "girlfriend" in her Ga), encapsulates her music project with its focus of meditation on self and place, although the song is in fact addressed to a man who is advised to leave his girlfriend now that his wife has arrived. She also draws from highlife on "Shi Mi" ("Leave Me"), "Olaka Mi" ("You're Lying to Me") and on "Tatale," for which she repurposes an old Ga rhyme about a kid who's on an errand to buy beans and plantain. Cina Soul's list of forthcoming releases include collaborations with King Promise, Mr Eazi and Kwesi Arthur in an exciting year for the singer who has also been appointed a UNICEF "influencer."

Darkovibes

One of six members of the trailblazing La Même Gang, Darkovibes' profile as a solo artist is set to go even higher this year with the release of an EP in March. Details about the project are kept under wraps but the artist will concede that the first single features KiDi, another emergent star in Ghanaian pop. Darkovibes will also join household names R2Bees on their recently announced US tour to promote their third studio album, Site 15. One special performance alongside King Promise is set for March 8 at the Ghana Independence Live Concert & Party in Washington DC.

LJ (Lyrical Joe)

The one word title for LJ's 2018 debut project, Kill, belies its voluminous size, when one considers that it stretches to 25 songs, but it explains his stamina, dexterity, chest-beating, and gift for word play. He's ferocious on the trap heavy "Pressure" and pugilistic on "Bomaye." "5th August" is wordplay wizardry, taking cues from Eminem's "Rap God" and Kendrick Lamar's "Damn." On "Ghana Boy" he's mischievous, "these bitches think I'm Ghanaian," he says in an American accent, knowing he's Ghanaian. Rumoured to have started out as a reggae artist, his convincing turn as ragga-rapper shouldn't be surprising, as heard on "Murder." For 2019, 'brevity' and 'collaboration' seem to be LJ's keywords. His next project is an 8-track EP, all of which will paired with a video. Each song is said to feature 2 differents artists. Planned for a separate release is the third instalment of his freestyle series titled, 5th August III, (also his birthdate) which will coincide with his concert in Accra.

Tulenkey

A show-stopping verse on "Bibii Ba," which featured an all-star lineup of Ghana's top rap talents, identified Tulenkey as one to watch. The 10 songs that make up his debut EP 1/1 go a long way to crystalise the 22-year-old's reputation. Stand out single "Fvck Boys" is runaway hit and is unusually frank in its depiction of male slacker culture. Its clever and humorous bars, over insistent electric guitar, make for a refreshing amalgam of rap and highlife. Tulenkey is reportedly working on the follow up to 1/1 which is simply titled 1/1, 2.

Freda Rhymz

As much a battle rapper as she is a studio artist, Freda Rhymz is a force to reckon with. She's a convincing drill sergeant on "Jammin," a playful beef-baiter on "Jux Playing (Dreams Freestyle), as well as an effective pop rapper on "I Dey Go". Her growing list of official releases will culminate in her first EP this April and will feature the likes of King Promise, Joey B and Eno. To support the release, the promising rapper will embark on a seven city "High School Tour" that will include Kumasi, Cape Coast and Accra.

Interview
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Interview: How Stogie T’s ‘Freestyle Friday’ Became a TV Show

Freestyle Friday started as lockdown content but is now a fully-fledged TV show on Channel O. In this interview, Stogie T breaks down why the show is revolutionary and talks about venturing into media.

When South Africa was put under a hard lockdown in 2020, Stogie T started Freestyle Friday to "make SA rap again." Freestyle Friday, hosted on Instagram, saw a different cohort of rappers each rap over the same beat picked by the veteran rapper. From niche and emerging rappers to some of the most notable names in South African hip-hop—the likes of AKA, Focalistic, Ginger Trill and several others all participated.

In the last few weeks, however, Freestyle Friday has found its way to cable TV. The show airs every Friday on Channel O, one of the continent's longest-running music TV channels. Freestyle Friday as a TV programme isn't just about freestyles, it's about the art of rapping and the music business, particularly SA hip-hop. Guests range from lyricists to record executives and other personalities aligned with the scene—Ninel Musson and Ms Cosmo for instance.

But Freestyle Friday is only the first media product Stogie T is working on as he is in the process of starting a podcast network, a venture in which he is collaborating with Culture Capital. In the Q&A below, Stogie T breaks down the relationship with Culture Capital, how the show moved from the internet to TV, why it's a revolutionary idea, touches on his venture into media and his future plans.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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