Image courtesy of the artist.
The Duality of Kwesi Arthur
We talk to the Ghanaian star rapper about his long-awaited debut album Son of Jacob,, which shows the two sides of his music: pop-ready songs and hard-headed rhymes.
Son of Jacob, rapper Kwesi Arthur’s debut album, is undoubtedly the most anticipated debut album by a Ghanaian artist in recent times. Kwesi made his official debut back in 2017, and from then on has commanded a core fanbase that's immensely loyal and closely follows his every move. His debut project, the 5-track offering Live From Nkrumah Krom, hosted breakout single “Grind Day” which launched the young rapper brimming with zeal and talent into the limelight. Although he has dropped further projects since then—such as his sophomore EP Live From Nkrumah Krom, Vol II: Home Run as well as two installments of This Is Not The Tape, Sorry For The Wait EPs—Kwesi Arthur fans have been fiending for a full length project from the award winning rapper all the while.
Having a candid conversation with Kwesi Arthur about the 15-track project, I get a better picture of its creation process as well as the many things that took place behind the scenes. “It’s been a whole journey,” the rapper explains, “it’s been a crazy process. Lots of ups and downs. We couldn’t do a lot of things because of the pandemic so we had to push it back. But we’re ready now,” he says assuredly. Speaking on when he began the process of making the album, “I recorded the first song for the album in 2018,” he reveals. “It was supposed to come earlier than now but it was delayed.”
Image courtesy of Kwesi Arthur.
Why did it take his debut album so long to arrive? The topic has been a severe pain point for many a Kwesi Arthur fan, and he unravels it in all honesty. The rapper chalks it down to two reasons—the coronavirus pandemic and the happenings of life. A number of unexpected events took place in Kwesi Arthur’s life during the creation of this album, including the tragedy of loss: his grandmother. Track five on the album, “Silver Spoon” was dedicated to her. “I wrote it for my grandma when we lost her last year. She was like the pillar of my family, keeping everything together, and losing her took me off balance. It made me see that this life, tomorrow is never even promised. It brought me back to reality that the only thing we’re promised is death, and we’re only here for a while. It really rocked me,” he explains.
The unforeseen delay in the album’s release still had its advantages, particularly when it came to its bearings on the rapper’s creative output. “I feel like us slowing it down and pushing it to this point made perfect sense because it helped us put it together better. Throughout all that period I went through other experiences that inspired certain songs teven on the album now,” he mentions. In other words, the delay gave him more time to do what artists need to do in order to create: experience life—and from the rapper’s perspective Son of Jacob is definitely better off for it.
Son of Jacob represents where Kwesi Arthur currently is creatively. Part rap and part afropop, the binate genre album is loaded with solid collaborations. “Toxic” featuring Nigerian singer Adekunle Gold is one of them. “Adekunle be hard guy, you feel me?” Kwesi remarks. “I connect to his music. Making 'Toxic,' we felt like Adekunle with his voice and his approach to songs would fit it best. And he killed it, shouts to him.” Speaking on why the album is more collaboration-heavy than his usual offerings, “I’m not really into collabs like that. But I feel like with this one I opened myself to putting people on my wave, and I feel like it really worked out.”
Son of Jacob portrays the duality of Kwesi. On one hand, he's rapper with a pop affinity who makes music that would comfortably sit at the top of afrobeats charts. On the other hand, he's a hard-headed, cocksure rapper who’s ever ready to remind every and any skeptic exactly who he is. A debut album is a rite of passage, and not many recording artists arrive at Kwesi Arthur’s level of stardom without one. It may seem like a long time since he started his career, but having finally crossed that all-important first album milestone, we can confidently say the superstar rapper’s career is just beginning.
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