Culture
Image courtesy of Yoofi Greene.

The Man Introducing China to Afrobeats Through Dance

Until COVID-19 hit, Ghanaian artist Yoofi Greene was China's Afrobeats evangelist. Now he's eager to return and finish what he started.

From his home in southern China, Yoofi Greene kept an eye on news of the growing outbreak in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. By late January, most of his friends, both Chinese and foreign, had already left and as it became clear that the coronavirus was now spreading widely, he figured it was time to return home to Ghana.

For several years, Greene had built a name for himself in China as an Afrobeats dancer and choreographer, slowly but surely building a devoted following, but his parents in Ghana were scared for him and he agreed to play it safe—packing two bags and leaving behind his Chinese life for what he hoped would be a brief exile.

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Manthe Ribane & Okzharp. Photo: Chris Saunders.

Defying Borders, Genres and Mediums: The Multimedia World of Manthe Ribane, Okzharp & Chris Saunders

The three artists unveil an album, short film, installation and tour around their debut full-length, Closer Apart.

Why settle for a genre or a medium when there's an entire world of creativity to draw from?

That's a defining ethos of the collaboration between Manthe Ribane, Okzharp, and Chris Saunders. Through music, performance art, video, and more, the three pull from anywhere that could possibly help create the world they're trying to build.

"What's most important is creating an experience with the different mediums that we showcase," says Ribane, a South African artist who handles vocal and performance duties.

Closer Apart, their first full length album on Hyperdub Records, finds them in progressive form, with London's Okzharp on production and Ribane singing, occasionally slipping into the Sepedi language. It's a clear vision—an individualistic project that avoids identifying too closely with any specific genre or scene, but the stark electronic beats and chanted lyrics do expose their respective roots.

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