Photo courtesy of the artist.

DJ Neptune Surveys the Sounds & Genres Running Africa In His New Album

Greatness 2.0 features an all-star cast of African artists and jumps from afrobeats to amapiano to asakaa, Ghana’s thrilling new take on drill.

Transitioning from a DJ to an artist is no small feat. Nigeria’s DJ Neptune has always had good ear for what the people want to hear, but in past years he's also shown his skill at assembling hitmakers to make a hit and earn a spot on any afrobeats playlist.

Neptune has been dotingly described as "Africa’s DJ Khaled" for his ability to bring the continent’s top names together in musical harmony. His 2018 debut album, Greatness: The Album, pulled from his extensive contacts and years of experience as one of Nigeria’s most influential radio personalities to create a star-studded compilation with features from Burna Boy, Davido, Yemi Alade, Mr Eazi, Efya, Kizz Daniel and Olamide, to name a few.

In 2020, during the pandemic, DJ Neptune endeared himself with his intimate live sessions with Neptune Isolation Radio, where he constantly entertained people during the lockdown. After more than a decade as a DJ, and also one of afrobeats’ most influential personalities and curators, he has assembled some of Africa’s hitmakers for his sophomore album, Greatness 2.0, which he describes as “a playlist with Africa’s favorite artists.”

Artists on the truly pan-African project include Nigeria’s Mr Eazi, Rema, Patoranking, Yemi Alade, Stonebwoy, Joeboy, Omah Lay, Simi, Adekunle Gold, Laycon, Ladipoe, Blaqbonez, Cheque, Peruzzi, Bella Shmurda and Phyno, Ghana’s Stonebwoy and Kofi Jamar,Harmonize and Anjella from Tanzania, South Africa’s Focalistic; and UK rapper One Acen. Collaborating with Neptune on production are Magic Sticks, Dëra and MOG, among other afrobeats hitmakers.

Greatness 2.0 is a survey of the sounds and genres currently running Africa —from afrobeats to amapiano and asakaa, Ghana’s thrilling new take on drill.

In this interview, we speak with DJ Neptune about DJ culture in Nigeria, working with some of Africa's biggest superstars, and his new album.

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Here Are 9 of the Most Striking Ghanaian Album Covers

We talk to the artists behind the cover artworks for M.anifest, Efya, FOKN Bois, Darkovibves, and more.

A great piece of music can be even greater with an aesthetically pleasing artwork. While the music is the focus, a brilliant visual representation is equally as important, especially in this age where digital media plays a vital role in music campaign rollouts. An artists' album or single artwork is generally the first thing listeners experience about a release — it has the power to either build anticipation or put listeners off completely to want to scroll on to something else.

Whether the cover art is a photograph of the artist, collage, caricature, painting, or digital art, some Ghanaian artists understand the worth of creating a separate work that can stand independent of their music.

From psychedelic and afro-futuristic themed album covers of Osibisa, and simple photographs of bands in the vinyl age, to portraits of artists on CDs and cassettes in the Walkman and Discman era, to the images artists use to announce new projects have changed with the cultural and evolving lifestyle of every generation.

We spoke to some of the artists who consistently push boundaries with their cover art for Ghanaian music. Some of these artworks would feel just at home in art galleries, or on the walls of their core fans, years after the songs they represent fade off the airwaves.

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