From writing his first rap verse in Class 6 to finding his sound, Ghanaian singer isKwarteng (real name Bernard Kwarteng) has been on a long journey of self-discovery and after 4 years of soul searching the singer presents what could possibly be the game-changer.
I first got to know isKwarteng thanks to producer Ssnowbeatz but I paid critical attention to his craft when he released a single titled Weytin featuring Ssnowbeatz in 2018. The song which was a blend of afro-beats, house, and pop was a favorite to my friend and colleague Emmanuel (he was then the Graphics guy for MuseAfrica now with Social Ghana) and he had impeccable taste in music and very hard to please. For isKwarteng to break through Emmanuel’s playlist, it meant he was doing something right.
isKwarteng went on to drop covers for WeAreGHG (A music-driven platform dedicated to unearthing talent) and gradually discovered his sound, which makes his stand out among his peers. The covers were like a play ground for isKwarteng to tinker with his sound and find the perfect fit. Through that journey, he earned a retweet from Rapper Sarkodie for his version of Lucky while earning the chance to be part of E.L’s Bar challenge in 2019. Being the only singer selected among rappers meant that something was working.
It isn’t difficult to detect progress as the singer admits his early songs were thrash as he failed to gain a single fan although his family members were always praising his song. ‘The thing is I’m not the kind that went to the studio for the first time and started making nice music.’
Professionally isKwarteng started making music in 2009 as a rapper under the name Kwarteng but failed to shine.
It is a different story now as he can now boast of fans though not in the thousands – he has made progress.
He describes his journey as educative as he discovered his sound whiles experimenting on the job and has been through the grass but finally has a feeling of grace (somewhat of a grass to grace story in the making).
isKwarteng’s style has been likened to another great Ghanaian talent Ayisi (A.I) and though there may be similarities they both have different stories to share.
Inspired by his boys in Buokrom a suburb of Kumasi, Ghana to write his first verse in Class 6, isKwarteng now stands as the only one among them who made music a career. His boys now look up to him to make them proud as he lives the dream, they couldn’t pursue.
isKwarteng in his bid to reach the top has released his debut project titled iRed. He describes the project as an ‘everybody movement’ and says there is a song relatable to everyone on the project.
The iRed EP which he does in collaboration with Gymoff Hitfactory Ghana is a seven-song EP, which might be the game-changer for isKwarteng as he seeks to achieve a feeling of ‘Proud Accomplishment’.
Speaking exclusively to MuseAfrica.com, isKwarteng says it all about his debut EP iRed.
How has your Journey been as an artist – from evolving from the rapper Kwarteng to isKwarteng??
The journey to me is an educative one. From learning about my sound to learning about the music culture in Ghana to learning how to involve my society when creating. I always think being original is one major factor to consider when creating art. It hasn’t been easy but it is a helpful journey. We still dey top though (laughs).
What were the main obstacles (if any) in your journey of self-discovery?
You see one thing I have come to understand is (that) when you dedicate yourself to a course, it is highly possible you will achieve your aim. I don’t know about you but I kind of like my new vibe (laughs). I felt at a point getting people to like my music was not possible because I was the one who got no good comment from people I didn’t know. Family and friend de3 they will always Praise you. The main hustle is to get people you don’t know vibing to your work. It’s been a while we started this thing you know? All I am saying is I use to get no comment, now I like the reception (smiles).
Do you feel people now understand your craft better than when you first began?
Oooo Yeah except those who don’t listen because of the things I use to be singing (laughs)
What are those things?
The thing is I am not the kind that went to the studio for the first time and started making nice music. I even knew aaa this songs de333 (laughs). I kept going though. That’s why I said the journey has been an educative one because man grow (laughs)
Talking about the Journey let’s take it back to how it all began, what drew you to music?
I can’t really tell what drew me to music because I have had this love for music as far as I can remember. Wrote my first rap in class six. I went to the studio for the first time in SHS (Senior High School) and we have been on it ever since.
What or who motivated you to write your first rap in Class 6?
My area boys oooo in Kumasi we use to rap for house.
Did any of them follow the dream-like you are doing now?
No, I am the lone ranger now and I know they will be elated once I get to the top.
Do you have any musical influences?
Ooo Yeahh just can’t put a name to it. Every good music influences me. I can hear a song from a new act and be influenced. I can see someone’s page and be as well. I feel up and coming acts do influence me more. Reason being the fact that they do what they do with close to nothing resources gets me going
Is that why you are iRed?
Bro everyone’s eye make red ooo. Ired is just not about me but the society as a whole. It is an everybody movement
Okay, so tell me about the EP iRed, what does it mean to you?
Ired! Wow! It is a project I am very proud of. I am grateful to WeAreGHG (Gymoff Hitfactory Ghana) for doing this with me. Ired, as I said, is an everybody movement. Everyone has a song they can relate to it. Weytin is a song people talk about to date. Dreams and prayer another one great reception for the song. The EP is full of songs like that. I have a song called holly water which talks about pastors and their hustle. One for unemployment. Bro unless you are not in Africa or probably can’t understand the language, you will at a point on the EP feel I’m talking to you.
What was the recording process like?
Amazingly fun, Big shout out to Ssnowbeatz for the atmosphere.
Which record took you on a journey while writing or recording?
Eii (laughs) I would say yawa We had to re-record a verse because we lost the data at a point. Ssnowbeatz moved his studio and we couldn’t find a studio with good sound around.., it took a while to fix that.
Most artists are noted for recording a pool of songs and picking some for projects, did you go through the same process?
The Songs recorded were actually meant for this specific project iRed. They all revolve around that theme. All songs recorded for the EP made it on.
Is there any special reason for the EP being just 7 songs?
Not really. At the end of the day, we got 7 songs for the project but it’s not that deep that the EP has 7 songs. But looking at it carefully now there is a day for every day of the week.
What went into choosing the beats for the project?
Shout out to all the beatmakers on the project, they were amazing. Beats are as important as the lyrics and I was fortunate to work with some of the best. For Ssnowbeats we were mostly in the studio together thus picking beats was easy, but Opa and Kwaes sent me beats and they resonated with me. All three beatmakers are amazing.
What is the target for your EP? What impact do you want it to achieve?
Music has contributed massively to my life. Any time I’m in a bad place music finds a way to uplift my spirit. I hope this EP does the same for a lot of people.
Any monetary goals?
Yeeeeah bro more streams, Sika y3 mogya. In as much as I want it to uplift people, I also need to uplift my account (laughs).
Most definitely, now let’s look at the features why Tijvni, Kelvin Black & Ssnowbeatz?
Amazing talents, none of them took a penny but delivered amazingly, bless them.
Was there any feature you wanted on the EP but couldn’t manifest?
Kojo cue on yawa (laughs) anba
Sad, would have been great to have both of you one the record
Hmmm, hopefully, his verse still comes through and we will work on the remix.
Did the threat of COVID-19 affect your EP in any way?
Ooo not really the song was long recorded and the EP was already in the process of coming out.
How long did it take to record the full EP?
We recorded all songs 2 years back but the thing that took the most time was trying to structure it well with copyright registration, distribution, publishing, and all those stuff. Shout outs to WeAreGHG, this EP wouldn’t have been possible without them.
Which song is your favorite off iRed?
I can’t choose, really can’t all the songs resonate with me so they are all basically my favorites maybe as time goes on I will see which song becomes my favorite but for now, I would like to know which one people vibe to the more.
What is in this EP for you as an artist?
Proud accomplishment. I put my blood and sweat into this EP to create a body of work that will appeal to the average person and also uplift them despite the struggles this world burdens on us.
Story by Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh