Interview
Photo: Randy Derykk courtesy of Kofi Mole.

Interview: Ghanaian Rapper Kofi Mole Is Up Next

Kofi Mole is a clear front runner within a new generation of hip-hop artists that have Ghana's streets buzzing.

Edward Kofi Agyemang Amoah is the 24-year-old rapper better known as Kofi Mole. True to his name—Kofi for 'Friday born' and Mole slang for 'hot guy' or 'go-getter'—he first rose to fame upon the release of his hit song "Mensah" with Ghanaian rapper, Kwesi Arthur.

Months later, he was featured on Sarkodie's "Biibi Ba" which was nominated for Best Hip Hop Song and Best Edited Video at the 2019 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards. By October 2019, he had released his highly-anticipated 5-track tape, Aposor Love. His hit song "Don't Be Late" would amass three million streams and get him a 3Music Award for Next Rated Act.

Despite "Don't Be Late" being one of his biggest songs to date, there weren't great expectations for it. Kofi and his team had no idea it would be as big as it got. Perhaps the magic lied in the visuals behind the song. "I'm the type of artist that already has the video direction in my head before I am done recording a song," Kofi mentions. "I'm always waiting for the video to express my feelings and everything I meant in the song. I know visuals are very powerful. You can drop audio and then the visuals will come out and the song will start charting." Maybe Kofi's fan base—dubbed Aposor Gang—played the biggest role in ensuring the song reached the heights it did. Kofi acknowledges them when he says, "My fans are my pillar. I can't do without them at all."


Photo: Randy Derykk

Growing up, Kofi was enamored with fashion and music. A cool kid with a hustler's mentality, he and his brother sold clothing and sneakers at Accra's Kantamanto Market. He gained popularity in his 'hood for his drip and his rapping. From Armed Forces Senior High School in Kumasi, he moved to Accra to study at the University of Ghana in Legon. His time at uni would be short-lived, for he'd drop out to pursue a music career. The bold move was one of the toughest decisions he's ever made. He affirms, "My parents were kind of disappointed in me… My mother wanted to see her son in a suit and tie. I don't play with the quote, 'Follow your heart'. I knew school wasn't going to help me, though my parents had already paid two years of school fees."

Kofi's anecdotes seem to support the fact that the steps he's taken make sense. He describes performing at a concert where rain fell as he got on stage, "Everybody started running back to their rooms and then my "Mensah" song dropped and the moment they heard the beat, everybody came back. They didn't care about their phones, their clothes, and anything else getting wet. I performed in the rain and the people were with me the entire 30 minutes to an hour I performed. I can't quite explain it. My mind was blown. They were jamming with me throughout."

Photo: Randy Derykk

By mid-May, Ghanaian-American fashion designer, Virgil Abloh, posted a screenshot of Kofi's video "Atwei!" in an Instagram story to his over 5.5 million followers and followed him.

It was pivotal for the fashion fiend. Kofi described it as follows, "That day, we scattered our whole office. I went crazy. That was one of the craziest moments I've ever experienced. I was doing fashion before I was doing music. Virgil Abloh is one of our idols. Everyone in my fashion circle idolizes Virgil." He emotively goes on to say, "Big shouts out to Virgil Abloh! Make I give him shouts out. It was like wow, the creative director of Louis Vuitton knows Kofi Mole. Ever since he put me on his story, the people from the other side them dey check out my stuff and listen to my music. I will never forget it. I can't wait to meet him and his team so that we can do something together: fashion, music, or my song being the theme song of one of his pop up shows."

Unbeknown to some, "Atwei!" was part of #MoleMondays—a viral series of 1-2 minute rap skits released every Monday to keep Kofi's fans engaged. In 2019, he'd been so focused on dropping his Aposor Love tape that he'd been unable to drop as many songs as he wanted. He promised his Aposor Gang more music in 2020. "#MoleMondays are the dessert you eat before the main meal. I drop #MoleMondays in between major projects," he says.

Photo: Randy Derykk

With the aforementioned, it's clear Kofi understands both the importance of keeping his fans happy and how the internet is changing the way music like his is heard and reshaping attitudes around the continent. He uses social media as his distribution channel. Whereat the start of his career, Ghanaians were big on Facebook—that's where he dropped his first tape—today, he's active on both Twitter and Instagram. On hip-hop from Ghana, he says, "We produce standard sounds that anybody anywhere in the world can listen to. We get recognition outside of our country: in America, in Nigeria, and other West African countries." He joyfully mentions the caucasian kids who send him videos of them rapping his songs in twi and pidgin.

Kofi is full speed ahead. Last month, he released the visuals to his song "Top Shella" and he's been nominated for three 2021 VGMA's: Best New Artiste of the Year, Hip Hop Artiste of the Year, and Hip Hop Song of the Year for "Don't Be Late."

With the end of the year around the corner, Kofi is gearing up for another collaboration with Sarkodie and a single with rapper Bosom P-Yung. The EP Aposor Love 2 is also slated for release. It's as if Kofi is speaking things into existence when he says, "The directions my songs take is the path I follow. For now, I'm just giving my fans more music. It wouldn't be bad if Kofi Mole had a sold-out show in a random country like Afghanistan or for people in India to be singing my songs. I want to be a global artist." The Ghanaian experience is one defined by the food the people consume, the way they dress, and their jovial nature—Kofi's tracks resonate because he pieces all of this together to create feel-good music the youth are eating up.

News Brief
Burna Boy performs at the Warner Music Group pre-Grammy party in Hollywood on January 2020. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Warner Music)

Burna Boy, Tinariwen, Michael Kiwanuka & More Nominated For 2021 Grammy Awards

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The nominations for the 2021 Grammy Awards are in.

The awards show, which will be hosted by Trevor Noah, will see some of the world's biggest artists up for categories like Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best New Artist.

As we previously wrote about, the Grammys have renamed the international category of Best World Music Album to Best Global Music, in an effort to reportedly make it more modern and inclusive.

In that new Best Global Music Category, Nigerian afro-fusion star Burna Boy is nominated alongside Tuareg desert rock group Tinariwen, NYC afrobeat outfit Antibalas, Brazilian-American Bebel Gilberto and British-Indian sitar player Anoushka Shankar.

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