Following the success of her Seed EP and a collaboration with Omah Lay, this daughter of a legend respects the past, lives in the present, and looks to the future.
20-year-old Jackie Acheampong, better known as Gyakie, was thrust into the limelight while completing her degree in International Business at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, where she grew up.
Since the release of her Seed EP and standout hit "Forever" in August 2020, Gyakie has become one of the leading young female voices in African music. Following that success, she's experienced exponential growth in her home country Ghana, and the neighbouring afrobeats capital of Nigeria — perching in the top five for numerous weeks in both countries.
Gyakie's music is a fine blend of contemporary sounds and classic highlife influences, by virtue of early exposure to its tenets by her father, the legendary highlife musician Nana Acheampong. The young Ghanaian artist dexterously fuses her artistic homages into a clear-cut sound befitting a new generation of listeners. She's joining young women such as Amaarae and Tems in taking African music, in her case 'Afro-fusion,' to the world stage.
We spoke to Gyakie about growing up in Ghana, the unprecedented success of "Forever," making the remix with Omah Lay, and what she has coming next.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Gyakie & Omah Lay - Forever (Remix) (Official Music Video) youtu.be
How was it growing up in Ghana?
Ghana is a beautiful place. Growing up with my dad there was very memorable, I got to experience new things from him in terms of music. Whenever he had studio sessions, he would sometimes take me with. I got the opportunity to see most of it, even though I had only a slight idea of highlife music back then. He influenced my love for music and entertainment.
Tell us about Seed EP?
The EP has five songs and no collaborations. About three of the songs were recorded during the lockdown. With "Forever", I hadn't met the producer Cross beforehand but he sent me the beat via email, which I have listed in my bio. Cross says he produced it when he was on the beach. If you listen to "Forever" and remove my vocals, the beat is very serene. The only thing that came to my head when I heard it was a love story. So I went to my room and penned the lyrics. I liked the beat so much, I finished the entire song in about four hours.
Why that title Seed?
The project is called Seed because, first of all, I'm my father's seed. He's a legend from Ghana, so this is me being planted into the music industry. Everything I do on this journey — hard work and consistency — helps water the seed and allows me to keep doing what will help grow my fans and bloom into a proper plant.
Image courtesy of the artist.
How did it feel when "Forever" became a mega hit and you got Omah Lay to jump on the remix?
I didn't think it would be this big, I knew it was a good record but didn't expect this. We first dropped the song in August last year. Then at the beginning of 2021 we were actually planning on putting out another project but "Forever" started buzzing. I think it started buzzing in Nigeria then the second phase of the "Forever" fever began. Honestly, I was surprised and extremely glad that the message in the song was able to reach a lot of people. I've not been able to drop anything new because of how good it's doing. It's getting close to a year, so new music is on its way.
When the song was doing well in Nigeria earlier on, one of the people I thought would be good on the remix is Omah Lay because he knows how to play with beats, melodies and his lyrics are always on point. I felt he'd be the perfect fit for the song, and funny enough he said he had written his verse before we even reached out to them.
How would you describe your sound?
I always say you can classify me as a versatile artist, I do Afro-fusion. I don't want to place myself into one corner, I like to explore. So you could hear me on reggae, hip-hop, R&B and any other genre you can think of, as long as I like the beat and can write on it. Moving forward I want to explore a lot of sounds. I'd love to write about other topics, not only love.
As a young female artist in a male-dominated industry, what are some of the challenges you have faced?
If we're being honest, a lot of the big artists right now are men and the women are quite few. I feel what I'm doing right now is meant to motivate any young girl out there and the major challenge is being one of a few women in the industry. Because you're part of the few, everyone expects you to keep getting to the top. You can't ever slack!
What's in the near future for your career?
I'm working on dropping something new. I haven't done a lot of collaborations, so you can look forward to that.