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Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Kevo Abbra's 'Kibera Ghost Rider' Is Afrofuturism Personified

Spotlight: Kevo Abbra's 'Kibera Ghost Rider' Is Afrofuturism Personified

Inspired by the '90s era of 'Afrofuturism', Kevo Abbra is bringing characters to life through the Kenyan's mastery of props and fashion styling.

In our 'Spotlight' series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists, and more who are producing vibrant, original work.

In our latest piece, we spotlight Kevo Abbra, a self-taught Kenyan born and based artist, making his presence known as a leading fashion stylist, costume designer, and prop master. As the creative genius behind Nasty C's album artwork for his 'Zulu Man With Powers' project, Abbra is reimagining the narrative around African fashion and art. Falling under the umbrella of 'Afrofuturism', his latest project 'Kibera Ghost Rider', is changing the game. Kibera Ghost Rider is a living character echoed through distinct costumes and props with the artist's inspiration being the urge to inspire, encourage, and give hope to kids and youth from the informal settlements to create their own spaces through representing their heritage, culture, and stories and in turn uniting the global community positively.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.


Describe your background as an artist and the journey you've taken to get it to where it is today.

My background as an artist commenced during the '90s, as I grew up in the times where the shift from analog to a more digital era was taking place. I grew up looking up to my father, a tie and dye pattern maker who had a unique way of dressing. I was curious and I began my own endeavors and started resizing my father's stylish clothes to my fittings. There was also easier access to tailoring stalls around Kawangware, which is where my upbringing took place.

This later grew into a venture of curating styles and sourcing clothes from thrift markets and selling them at a profit while still in high school. Through time, I found a lot of comfort in communicating through fashion, art, and style and that's where my artistry and love for storytelling through fashion began. The retro styling borrowed from my dad infused with my personal touch became my forte - I take every day as it comes and I never seize to draw inspiration from my everyday surroundings and engagements throughout this artistic journey.

What are the central themes in your work and how have you told the story this time around?

The central themes in my work focus on a few aesthetics that are costume design, prop mastery, and styling, this time around there is the involvement of colors and prop creation in order to pronounce the main character of the story.

Can you talk about your use of colors, clothing, and staging in this project?

My craft is mainly governed by the use of colors, textures, and prints. Costume design has also played a huge role in ensuring that the richness of the culture, on which the project revolves around, is what informs the visuals of the entire series. My artistic expression has always been inspired through the textures and colors of my surroundings and lifestyle of my people's culture. The staging of this project is in Kibera as the locals are able to feel in touch with what the story is echoing, as a sense of relation is always key to audience when it comes to my works.

How has the pandemic affected you creatively?

The pandemic has had a huge shift in the whole entire creative industry. In turn, it has causes us as artist and concerned parties to evaluate and strategies on changing our habits - as they may have been in the past. Personally, it has affected me positively. It's the best time to be confident in using the best ideals that make us artists and do better, create better and bigger.


Concept + Creative / Art Direction + Production + Styling by Kevo AbbraPhotographer: TINSEH


Concept + Creative / Art Direction + Production + Styling by Kevo AbbraPhotographer: TINSEH


Concept + Creative / Art Direction + Production + Styling by Kevo AbbraPhotographer: TINSEH


Concept + Creative / Art Direction + Production + Styling by Kevo AbbraPhotographer: TINSEH


Concept + Creative / Art Direction + Production + Styling by Kevo AbbraPhotographer: TINSEH


Concept + Creative / Art Direction + Production + Styling by Kevo AbbraPhotographer: TINSEH


Concept + Creative / Art Direction + Production + Styling by Kevo AbbraPhotographer: TINSEH


Concept + Creative / Art Direction + Production + Styling by Kevo AbbraPhotographer: TINSEH


Concept + Creative / Art Direction + Production + Styling by Kevo AbbraPhotographer: TINSEH

Interview

Kofi Jamar Switches Lanes In 'Appetite for Destruction'

The Ghanaian rapper and "Ekorso" hitmaker presents a different sound in his latest EP.

The drill scene in Ghana has been making waves across the continent for some time now. If you're hip to what a crop of young and hungry artists from the city of Kumasi in Ghana and beyond have been doing over the past year, then you already know about rapper Kofi Jamar.

Towards the end of November last year he dropped one of the biggest drill songs to emerge from Ghana's buzzing drill scene, the popular street anthem "Ekorso." In the December and January that followed, "Ekorso" was the song on everyone's lips, the hip-hop song that took over the season, with even the likes of Wizkid spotted vibing to the tune.

Currently sitting at over 10 million streams across digital streaming platforms, the song topped charts, even breaking records in the process. "Ekorso" maintained the number one spot on Apple Music's Hip-Hop/Rap: Ghana chart for two months uninterrupted, a first in the history of the chart. It also had a good stint at number one of the Ghana Top 100 chart as well, among several other accolades.

Even though he's the creator of what could be the biggest song of Ghana's drill movement till date, Kofi Jamar doesn't plan on replicating his past music or his past moves. He has just issued his second EP, a 6-track project titled Appetite for Destruction, and it would surprise you to know that there isn't a single drill song on it. Although drill played a huge role in his meteoric rise, he wants to be known as way more than just a drill rapper. He wants to be known as a complete and versatile artist, unafraid to engage in any genre — and he even looks forward to creating his own genre of music during the course of his career.

We spoke to Kofi Jamar about his latest EP, and he tells us about working with Teni, why he's gravitating away from drill to a new sound, and more. Check out our conversation below.

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