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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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Photo: Single cover art courtesy of Emerald East

Rema Welcomes 2021 With New Single 'Bounce'

The Don Jazzy produced track reminds us of why the Nigerian singer-songwriter is topping charts.

Nigerian golden boy Rema took his time on deciding how to start of 2021—and we're glad he did.

The afropop hitmaker is out with his first project of the year, "Bounce", after stunning fans with word of an upcoming album, and the cooks in this kitchen have not disappointed.

Keeping it in the Mavin Records family, legendary producer Don Jazzy sprinkles his magic on the track, while undoubtedly motivating the young singer-songwriter to be his best self. And with this track being like nothing we've heard from Rema before, one could say Jazzy succeeded. "Bounce", fast-paced and fierce, is a love song dedicated to bewitchingly beautiful and blessed bottoms. The candid declaration and hip shaking beat are a force duo and we can't help but love it.

Of the single and collaboration with head honcho Don Jazzy, Rema says, "This record was inspired by the luscious and magnificent body of the African woman. Furthermore, I'm really excited about this tune because it's my first single with the legendary Don Jazzy."

Honestly, when you start the year off with a banger, you get to make songs about butts.

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