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.
Yaw Tog 'SORE' ft O`kenneth,City Boy, Reggie, Jay bahd
A benchmark song of the Asakaa movement, "Sore" by Yaw Tog is the first song from the Kumerica crop to hit the limelight in a major way. Dropped in September 2020, "Sore" hit the ground running, triggering the exposure of the entire Kumerica crop to Ghana. "Sore" also had a brief stint at the number one spot on the Apple Music's Ghana Top 100 chart, and made Yaw Tog the most prominent face of the budding movement. A remix of "Sore" featuring British-Ghanaian rapper Stormzy recently dropped, it was recorded during Stormzy's visit to Ghana in December and January.
Kofi Jamar ft. Yaw TOG & Ypee 'Ekorso'
Ghanaian rapper Kofi Jamar isn't of the Kumerica crop, although he does hail from Kumasi. He's currently enjoying the breakthrough moment of his career with his drill smash "Ekorso." Currently the most popular song of the movement, the song dominated Ghana's December 2020 festivities, and continues to rule the airways even now. Topping Apple Music's Ghana Hip-Hop/Rap chart for weeks on end, "Ekorso" is an epic joint which has given Kofi Jamar his moment.
JAY BAHD 'CONDEMN' FT. CITYBOY, O'KENNETH, REGGIE & KWAKU DMC
One of the major attractions of Ghana's drill scene? That hip-hop posse style. The rappers have a knack for making their songs a family affair, consistently having up to five or even more artists on the same song. Each rapper brings their own style to the track, delivering a show-stopping verse before the next rapper takes over. Jay Bahd is another rising star from the scene, and "Condemn" is right up there with the hottest songs from the movement. Currently sitting at just below a million views on YouTube, the allure of this joint can be attributed to Jay's gruff voice, the singalong hook, and the menacing beat by DJ Fortune DJ.
Okese1 'Yie Yie'
Another standout Asakaa cut is "Yie Yie" by rapper Okese1. The smash hit by the rapper is a solo effort, but you wouldn't be able to tell by looking at the video, because in there it's the posse business as usual. Asakaa isn't only entertaining us, but it's also blessing the industry with fresh faces that each have their own unique flair, and this is a perfect example. Okese1 came through with a very simple but catchy chorus and bravado-filled verses mixed with street phrases that ring in your head long after you stop playing the song. "3to kese y3 Chairman de3" (the big butt is for the Chairman) is an example.
Dead Peepol x Rich Kent 'Otan Hunu'
One of the earlier songs from the movement to hit the spotlight, "Otan Hunu" by Dead Peepol and Rich Kent, came out shortly before the drill scene exploded. It may have come out before Asakaa started getting widespread national attention, but that didn't make this hit song any less popular. Shortly after its release "Otan Hunu" secured a star-studded remix featuring Malcolm Nuna, Kuami Eugene, Medikal, Bosom P-Yung, Tulenkey, Deon Boakye and Fameye which is awesome, but the original version is an undeniable gem.
Reggie 'GENG GENG' ft City Boy, JayBahd, Okenneth & Sean Lifer
"Geng Geng" led by Life Living Records act Reggie Osei is another standout track of the movement. The compelling "Geng Geng" is simply a hat tip to brotherhood and the hustle, two of the most important principles of Kumerican culture. For many, Reggie is the most melodious of the crew, and on "Geng Geng" this talent was on display.
Sean Lifer 'Ma Drip' ft O'Kenneth, Reggie, Jay Bahd, Kwaku DMC, Kawabanga & City Boy
Living Life Records is home to a good majority of the Asakaa rappers. Jay Bahd, O'Kenneth, Reggie Osei, Kwaku DMC, Kawabanga, City Boy and Sean Lifer all represent the rising record label, which is one good reason why most of them appear on songs together more often than not. Streetwear is a big part of Asakaa culture, and Sean Lifer's cut "Ma Drip" is an anthem paying homage to one of the movement's most distinguishing features: fashion. Sean Lifer is the co-founder of Life Living Records along with Rabby Jones, their manager.
Kwaku DMC 'Off White Flow'
"Off White Flow" by Life Living Records act Kwaku DMC is the song that earned the rapper a lengthy discourse on Ghana's drill scene with Virgil Abloh, the CEO of Off-White on his Apple Music show Televised Radio, as well as a public cosign. Kumericans love Off-White, and the song pays tribute to the global fashion brand in a mix of English and Twi lyrics.
Kawabanga 'Akatafoc' feat.O'Kenneth, Reggie & Jay Bahd
"Akatafoc" is another wave-making Asakaa track, headlined by rapper Kawabanga. Kawabanga isn't a Life Living Records act, but three of the crop appear on the song. Together Kawabanga, O'Kenneth, Reggie Osei, and Jay Bahd deliver a blunt lifestyle declaration—hustle, hustle, and more hustle.
Note that the Kumerica boys and their peers aren't the only ones dropping that Asakaa heat. Drill has spilled over into Ghana's mainstream, with several of Ghana's A-list acts weighing in and dropping their own iterations of the captivating genre. Songs like "La Hustle" by Medikal, "Akobam" by Joey B, Kofi Mole, and Medikal, and Joey B & Sarkodie's two minute banger "Cold" to name a few, have given us the pleasure of receiving drill joints not just by new faces in the game but by names we know and love, and Ghana's music industry is all the better for it.