Arts + Culture

Ralph Ziman's Beaded AK-47s In 'Ghosts'

Ralph Ziman exhibits beaded replica AK-47s in his new solo show "Ghosts" at C.A.V.E gallery, LA.

The debut exhibition (at least to our knowledge) from South African artist and filmmaker Ralph Ziman recently caught our eyes. Best known for his Venice murals and music video work with the likes of Toni Braxton and Michael Jackson, Johannesburg-born, Venice-based Ziman spent six months collaborating with Zimbabwean vendors in Joburg to create 200+ Shona-beaded replica AK-47s. The series of photos capture street vendors posing with the stunningly decorated weaponry. Ziman opened up about the impetus behind the project, which appeared initially as a series of murals in Venice:


"Part of an extensive series of works, this mural deals with the international arms trade and Africa: a trade that for the most part only goes in one direction. Into Africa. I had six Zimbabwean artists use traditional African beads and wire to manufacture several hundred replica bead/guns like AK-47s, as well as several replica bead/general purpose machine guns (GPMGs), along with the ammunition.

In response to the guns sent into that culture, the mural represents an aesthetic, anti-lethal cultural response, a visual export out of Africa. And the bead/guns themselves, manufactured in Africa, are currently being shipped to the USA and Europe. This bead/arms project provided six months full time work for half a dozen craftsman who got well deserved break from making wire animals for tourists. The completed bead/guns were the subject of a photo-shoot in crime ridden downtown Johannesburg. The subjects were the artists who made the guns, several construction workers who happened to witness the shoot, and a member of the South African Police Services who just wanted his picture taken."

Though some have interpreted Ziman's photo series as a critique of "Africa's dominant gun culture," it's important to keep the international nature of the arms trade in mind. In bringing his exhibit to the US, "the world's biggest arms exporter," Ziman goes some way to redirecting the one directional flow of the arms trade, inviting viewers to consider the original source of the guns on display. The exhibit features sculptures, installations and photos of the handmade guns. Ghosts is on display at L.A.'s C.A.V.E. Gallery Feb. 8th through March 2nd.

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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