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Meet Nigeria's New Superhero, Wale Williams

Lagos-born animator Roye Okupe releases part 1 of his Nigerian superhero trilogy, 'E.X.O: The Legend of Wale Williams.'

All images courtesy of Roye Okupe


Update February 1, 2016: Roye Okupe has launched a campaign to complete Part 2 of E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams.

“I wasn’t born a hero. I had to become one.”

So begins graphic novel trilogy E.X.O: The Legend of Wale Williams, which had its official release this week. In it, Wale Williams, a young Nigerian man, returns home to investigate the mysterious disappearance of his father, a brilliant inventor. Upon his arrival, he inherits a Nanosuit, giving him the superpowers needed to fight the corrupt leaders, robotic drones, and radical extremists that plague his futuristic home-- the Lagos-inspired Lagoon City.

Conceived of by Lagos-born digital animator and YouNeek Studios founder Roye Okupe, the comic world of Wale Williams is a welcome addition to the emerging canon of afrofuturistic stories featuring African characters. When we caught up with longtime superhero lover Okupe prior to the launch of his Kickstarter campaign, he recounted what drove him to invest his time and money in the story after being told repeatedly that his great idea wouldn't have a fan base.

"From the first day I laid my eyes on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons in the ’80s, I’ve been hooked on superheroes. Since then I’ve watched, played and read every single superhero-related title I could lay my hands on: movies, comics, manga, anime, graphic novels, animated movies/series, video games etc. Then in 2008, after noticing there wasn’t a lot of diversity within the genre, I decided to tell a story about a hero from Nigeria."

The success of the novel's Kickstarter speaks to the gravity of his vision. "We hit our target in about two days and for the rest of the Kickstarter campaign we got $10,000," Okupe told CNN. "It was then that I knew this was the right path. Any failure I felt before -- not getting the animation, getting rejected by so many distributors and producers, people telling me my idea is not going to work -- it finally justified the fact I never quit on myself." The product is finally here, beautifully made, and available for purchase. In the future, YouNeek Studios plans to create a more Africa-inclusive collection of superhero comics, including an animated EXO feature film.

E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams Part 1 is available via Amazon, Kindle, Apple iBooks, or directly from YouNeek Studios. The first chapter can also be found for free here.

Music
(Youtube)

9 Must-Hear Songs From Ghana's Buzzing Drill Scene

We give you the rundown on Ghana's drill movement, Asakaa, and the most popular songs birthed by it.

Red bandanas, streetwear, security dogs, and gang signs. If you've been paying any attention to the music scene in Ghana over the past few months, then by now you would have noticed the rise of a special hip-hop movement. The movement is called Asakaa, and it's the Ghanaian take on the Chicago-born subgenre of hip-hop called drill music. It's fresh, it's hot, it's invigorating and it's nothing like anything you've seen before from this part of the world.

The pioneers of Asakaa are fondly referred to by the genre's patrons as the Kumerica boys, a set of budding young rappers based in the city of Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. They came into the limelight towards the end of 2020, and have been dropping banger after banger since then, topping several charts and racking up millions of views collectively. The rap is charismatic, the visuals are captivating, and their swag is urban. Characterized by Twi lyrics, infectious hooks, and sinister beats, the allure and appeal of both their art and their culture is overflowing.

"Sore," one of the benchmark songs of the movement, is a monster hit that exploded into the limelight, earning Kumerican rapper Yaw Tog a feature on Billboard Italy and a recent remix that featured Stormzy. "Ekorso" by Kofi Jamar is the song that took over Ghana's December 2020, with the video currently sitting at 1.3 million views on YouTube. "Off White Flow" is the song that earned rapper Kwaku DMC and his peers a feature on Virgil Abloh's Apple Music show Televised Radio. These are just a few examples of the numerous accolades that the songs birthed from the Asakaa movement have earned. Ghana's drill scene is the new cool, but it isn't just a trend. It's an entire movement, and it's here to stay.

Want to get familiar? Here we highlight the most prominent songs of the Asakaa movement that you need to know. Here's our rundown of Ghana's drill songs that are making waves right now. Check them out below.

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