Ghanaian Electro-Funk Crooner Jeff Darko Shares The Fluorescent Visuals For 'Bystander'

Ghanaian soul singer Jeff Darko speaks to us about the fluorescent visuals for his new single "Bystander".

We first got hooked to the sounds of Ghanaian crooner Jeff Darko last summer after the release of his debut EP, Epic Dreams Of A Pedestrian. Since then we've kept up with the trendy singer and style maven via his eclectic Instagram account hoping for some new tunes. This week, Darko brings back his hypnotic blend of soul, electro-funk and R&B on "Bystander," a mesmerizing dance track that calls for self-acceptance and individuality in a society that often condemns deviations from the status quo.

Darko, who emigrated from Ghana to France at a young age, often explores the tensions of being a foreigner in a strange land in his music. The slinky single, which premiered yesterday via The Wild, boasts a rich infusion of bongos, horns, funky guitars and choral vocals that back Darko's message of finding one's inner light and letting it shine. We caught up with the rising Barcelona-based singer over e-mail to find out the story behind his latest video and how he hopes to channel positivity to all through his music.

Jen for Okayafrica: What inspired your new track "Bystander"?

Jeff Darko: "Bystander" is a message to myself and equally to others. The inspiration comes from my own personal experiences, where I had to overcome a lot of hurdles. The lyrics introduce a new playful way of writing and the sound was inspired by Marvin Gaye, Fela Kuti and Miles Davis. It’s a taste of electro-funk music.

OKA: Could you walk us through your creative process as you put the track together?

JD: The process originally started in London with collaboration with producer O.M.B, who produced "Don’t Worry Me Now" off my debut EP. We started the building process of this song in 2013 straight after we completed "Don’t Worry Me Now." It always starts with me hearing a beat then building around it with the right melodies, lyrics and later modifying the beat to the new found direction. In this case the original beat was sculpted by O.M.B and the lyrics were written in company of Jonathan Holder and the new direction was assisted by producers at La Atlantida Estudio in Barcelona. The beat was originally quite dark and produced digitally and we felt that the lyrics will be giving new life in compliment of the electronic sounds, funk blended in with African and Brazilian influences accompanied by live instruments.

OKA: How did you and director Monica Heredero come up with the track's vibrant visuals?

JD: With the video, I simply described the message I wanted to deliver and Monica  put together an incredible mood board that caught my attention. Her early idea was to have a fluorescent theme because we were looking for something colorful but quite dark at the same time. Things in fluorescent hold their own light, so in effect our intention was to showcase the idea of giving light and life. We wanted to express that during dark times you could depend on the light inside you to shine.

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Photo courtesy of the director.

Interview: How Félicity Ben Rejeb Price Is Reinventing the Afro-French Music Video

Félicity is the Tunisian music video director birthing a new aesthetic for urban French culture.

Félicity Ben Rejeb Price represents a new generation of imagery in Afro-French hip-hop culture, with clients including top French acts like Dadju, Aya Nakamura, Gims, Niska, SCH and Soolking. She also has a growing catalogue of editorial campaigns for the likes of Adidas, Uber and Converse.

Her current role is a combination of everything she's done so far. A jack of many trades, she's played her hand as an interior decorator, publicist, set designer, stylist, casting director, photographer, and ultimately, artistic director. The detail-oriented Félicity relishes at being able to select the location, models, styling, and the method of filming for her projects.

Félicity dominates a masculine industry with illustrations that go beyond the typical rap video starter pack—comprised of cars, scantily-clad women, alcohol, and money. Her formula is: film music videos that are mini-films where women such as herself are treated as equals rather than objectified, while also sprinkling in a number of lights and colors.

It's Saturday afternoon in Arizona, where Félicity is shooting a new music video. She pauses to speak with us on the phone about the trajectory of her career.

The article below has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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Photo courtesy of Mike Song / Beating Heart.

Watch Tanzanian Up-and-Comer Mike Song's New Video For 'Temptation'

Video Premiere: "This song is my real story, this is me. I am the kid hustling on the streets, life is hard fighting all day, every day just to get by," says the rising artist Mike Song.

Mike Song's story is a compelling one.

At 17, he was living homeless in Dar Es Salaam, when he saw an ad for a music production workshop in Zanzibar. Mike managed to borrow enough money to make his way over and it was at that workshop that he met Beating Heart Project production team Saronde.

"Temptation" was born during those days at the workshop, as "Mike stepped up to the mic and proceeded to enchant the room with the sweetness and sincerity of his voice," Beating Heart mentions. "When he was asked what the song was about, Mike spoke about how his father had died when he was young, he was looking after his mother and younger sister and was tempted to give up pursuing his dreams of music to get a normal job."

"This song is my real story, this is me. I am the kid hustling on the streets, life is hard fighting all day, every day just to get by," Mike Song tells OkayAfrica. "My creative struggle is real; my friends support me but I often feel the temptation to quit—I also hear the voice of my father telling me not to give up. My passion is singing and know deep down that life is going to be OK because I have my friends and family, but for now I have to focus on my dreams of being a successful performer."

Watch out music video premiere for "Temptation" below, the song is out today on Beating Heart.

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The 12 Best Ghanaian Songs of the Month

Featuring Stonebwoy, Kuami Eugene, Shatta Wale, Samini, Sarkodie and more.

March has been quite an eventful month around the world. While almost everything has come to a standstill due to the pandemic, the creative world hasn't stopped. In an attempt to keep the content coming during this time of social distancing and self isolation, both the top shots and emerging acts have been showing out. As March comes to a close we give you a list of some of the best songs to come out of Ghana this month. Check them out below.

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

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The 6 Best East African Songs of the Month

Featuring Harmonize, Rayvanny, Mbosso, Vinka and more.

East African artists have been keeping our spirits up with upbeat and catchy releases this month. Here are our picks for the best East African songs of the month.

Follow our East African Grooves playlist on Spotify and Apple Music.

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