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Video: VIP 'Pampanaa' feat. EL

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Okayafrica recently caught up with Promzy and Prodigal, two of the founding members’ of Ghana’s VIP (Vision In Progress), as they performed in California. Among other things, the two were excited - and thoroughly surprised - to see azonto in various places, including dance studios in Norway where most of the participants were non-African.

The group’s 2010 album, Progress, produced two major hits - “I Think I Like Am” (below) and the monstrous “Away.” The latter, with its infectious open snare intro and sing-along chorus, managed to evolve from mere club anthem to a colloquial staple ingrained into the local lexicon in Ghana. The resulting success further solidified their status as hiplife royalty at home, but for the group, it only aggravated an eagerness to reach new audiences abroad.

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“We’re still spreading our wings. The sky’s still the limit,” said Prodigal.

He and fellow group member, Promzy, see the azonto craze as an opportunity to spread their musical message and are enthusiastically waving the azonto flag throughout their travels. Above all else, it’s a proud moment to see a local product being embraced worldwide. “The azonto thing is by us,” said Promzy. He’s happy to see Ghanaians and Africans worldwide embracing their own music alongside their European counterparts.

But azonto does owe partial credit to the outside world. Ghanaian pop music has always been, in part, a result of the syncretism with western influences. Highlife – that nation’s oldest musical export - owes as much to big band jazz and gospel as it does to palm wine music. Azonto is no exception. Its warm reception in Europe may result from the UK Funky ‘s influence on the production. But to VIP it’s all hiplife. And as one of hiplife’s premier ambassadors, they plan on seeing azonto as another tool in their ever-growing arsenal to spread their message. VIP returns to the states June 16th for a show in New York (details to come) alongside fellow countrymen Castro and Tiffany.

Stream an excerpt from our interview and their take on azonto below:

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Interview

Sarkodie Is Not Feeling Any Pressure

The elite Ghanaian rapper affirms his king status with this seventh studio album, No Pressure.

Sarkodie is one of the most successful African rappers of all time. With over ten years of industry presence under his belt, there's no question about his prowess or skin in the game. Not only is he a pioneer of African hip-hop, he's also the most decorated African rapper, having received over 100 awards from close to 200 nominations over the span of his career.

What else does Sarkodie have to prove? For someone who has reached and stayed at the pinnacle of hip-hop for more than a decade, he's done it all. But despite that, he's still embracing new growth. One can tell just by listening to his latest album, No Pressure, Sarkodie's seventh studio album, and the follow-up to 2019's Black Love which brought us some of the Ghanaian star's best music so far. King Sark may be as big as it gets, but the scope of his music is still evolving.

Sonically, No Pressure is predominantly hip-hop, with the first ten tracks offering different blends of rap topped off with a handful of afrobeats and, finally, being crowned at the end with a gospel hip-hop cut featuring Ghanaian singer MOG. As far as the features go, Sark is known for collaborating mostly with his African peers but this time around he branches out further to feature a number of guests from around the world. Wale, Vic Mensa, and Giggs, the crème de la crème of rap in America and the UK respectively all make appearances, as well as Nigeria's Oxlade, South Africa's Cassper Nyovest, and his fellow Ghanaian artists Darkovibes and Kwesi Arthur.

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