Sometimes if you don’t change the ways you won’t get the results you want and repeating the same thing doesn’t yield a different result. – Amerado
I have known Ghanaian rapper Amerado real name Derrick Sarfo Kantanka for over 4 years and anytime we meet it’s a vibe.
Coming from the camp of the Mic Burnerz, Amerado has grown from under the shadows of Strongman Burner as he is finally recognized as one of the top young rap acts.
Sitting with him and his road manager Kwao in the Muse office, it was obvious to me Amerado is now commercially minded than in previous years.
Though he admits he’s going soft, Amerado stated he will still release songs for his hardcore fans.
Although talented, Amerado in his early days appealed to only hardcore rap fans but that is gradually changing.
On the day of the interview, he was on a media tour to promote his new single ‘Twaso’ featuring Fameye.
Twaso is a song Amerado hopes will attract the attention of Ghanaians although he has achieved that feat with his weekly newscasting program Yeete Nsem.
Conceived during the lockdown, Yeete Nsem is gradually turning into a fan favorite, making Amerado one of the most sought after Newscasters on the internet.
In our 20 minutes conversation, Amerado touched on his London experience, shrugging off the Kumasi tag, his new song Twaso and his new role as a News Caster.
It’s been close to a year since we met and during that time you’ve been to the UK. How have those experiences molded you now?
As a young artist, having that opportunity to go outside was a great feeling. I have gotten the experience now and am hoping to go there more often to go and play shows and stuff. When I went there, I shoot a video and recorded a couple of songs as well. So we just hope for more.
We can see the changes in your skin color, now more girls.
Ooh no, I don’t focus on girls, I don’t like girls, but I like music.
In recent times, you’ve been in the news, you released a song trying to calm waters during the height of the beef between Sarkodie, Ball J, and Asem but one may argue, you once recorded a diss song for Medikal on behalf of DJ slim. How come now you want to regulate beef?
That was way back and even before that, I was releasing good songs. I have learned a lot and I’m growing so I just have to get better when you are coming up, you always want to get into the news whether it’s negative or positive but now I have a fan base and a brand to protect, great people are also following me, so I shouldn’t be misbehaving all the time. So sometimes I regret sometimes too I don’t because it’s emotions, we just move regardless.
When pushing turns to shoving, will you release a diss record again?
Definitely, I’m an artist, I’m a rapper, when somebody steps on my toes, definitely am I’m going to diss but until then I’m cool, sleeping dog, adey lie?
Even after telling both artists to put away their differences.
Exactly, I love beef. Even in music, we have three components; the competition, sweet rivalry, and collaboration, all of them are spices. The fact that I’m in-between now, telling people to stop doesn’t mean when you disrespect me I’m not going to tell you my mind. I’m always going to stand up for myself.
How has the whole corona pandemic affected you as an artist?
Ghana as a whole, every artist is suffering, right now it’s up to you to sit down with your team and develop some ideas that are going to get you the streams and the money online, It’s been very ‘very’ hard but we pray that something will happen out of this mess because it’s not easy.
How are your streams like?
The numbers are moving up, thanks to my team and MuseAfrica. My new project Yeete Nsem is also a factor. The bloggers are also backing me, they don’t take me a penny to post me on their blogs, maybe that’s because of my good works. Huge respect to the fans for also accepting that one too.
During the lockdown period what were you doing at home?
I was recording songs, at home. It was our plan to drop an album this year. I have been releasing songs; lockdown, bus stop, I have been in the studio recording.
Let’s talk about Yeete Nsem. How did that come about?
So once upon a time, a few months ago my team and I thought we should come out with something that’s going to sustain me whiles we are in this corona times. We came up with this idea of me being a news anchor and give people the trending news happening in a week in a rap form so that I will release it every week on Friday at 6 pm. It’s wasn’t easy but my team got me prepared and here we are now. So they should expect it every Friday I’m not going to slack.
Is it every other Friday or there will be a limit to it when you get to a certain point?
As of now, every Friday I am going to give them the news. Because every day something happens. So every Friday at 6 pm I will have something for them.
Now the title Yeete Nsem, why that name, is there a specific reason why you chose it?
Yeete Nsem was a song I was about to drop in 2017, Azee my manager played the beat for me and he told me to speak about some trending issues happening as at then so when this idea came up, I told them why don’t we pick that Yeete Nsem as the headline for this project and it clicked. It’s a twi word saying we Dey hear things
So as a news writer myself, I know the volume of entertainment news which come within a week and I know how I gather news, how do you gather your news and how do you determine these are the top news I will concentrate on out of the whole cluster of news which comes in.
So this is how I do my research, I visit top blogs like MuseAfrica, (and) I pick the news. I see the source to be authentic and check if people are talking about it, what people are talking about, the most trending topics then I fuse them together in 1:30 seconds or at most 2minutes. Then I deliver them in a rap form.
This week I want to give you a trending song, called Twaso which is all over the news featuring Amerado and Fameye. I hope I see it this week.
(Laughs) Yes! That will be in the outro.
Let’s talk about Twaso; what did you do this time for Twaso to trend the way it did.
Sometimes if you don’t change your ways you don’t get the results that you want and repeating the same thing doesn’t yield a different result. Now I have a team, the team was there but the potential was not really up there, but now we sat down and thought of why do we always set up a fire and quench it. Now we don’t want to quench it, we want to switch to the kind of music people want me to do without me losing my true self as a hardcore rapper.
TWASO featured Fameye because he got that vibe, like in highlife; he’s the top new act now. We put him on that song to catch the feelings of the Ghanaian fans who love him and also for me to exhibit that side of me as well. So it’s just an inspirational song talking about how people shouldn’t talk about people even if you want to talk about people, you should cut top at some level.
Can you take us through the video?
The video shoot is a long story. We shot the video, Lenzy shot the video, he did well but there was some part of the video that we didn’t like because the concept was not connecting, so we had to act smart and shoot another one, then we compared both, so after comparing we decided to release Gordon’s own and keep the other one, maybe someday we will drop Lenzy’s own.
No hard feelings, I felt my fans deserve better, and as I said I can’t keep repeating those mistakes. I took my fans’ feelings and love into consideration. Gordon (Appiah) came up with a concept himself and we shot in a single day.
Talking about the two videos, does it mean, Amerado’s pocket is gaining?
What if I went for a loan to do that? Just in the interest of my fans seeing me on a different level.
Did you go for a loan?
Not really, it’s not about the money, shout-outs to New Nation, Mic-Burners, they are trying their best for me. Things wouldn’t stay the same always. Eno be any money, gidigidi…
I know of Mic-Burners but I don’t know of New Nation.
New Nation is a Canadian based label. Who are now in collaboration with Mic-Burner, are managing me now. Shout-outs to Mr. Opoku Katakyie, my lawyer, Kwao Lezzes, Azee Ntwene, Guda. They are doing all changes and magic.
So earlier in our conversation, you said you don’t really like girls like that. But in a recent photo, I saw you with one fine lady. A very fair lady.
Yeah, I don’t like girls, I used to. My best friend? That’s Nicki (Samonas). I like her so much, that’s my best friend.
How instrumental has she been in your career?
She has been loud like the trumpet, I can’t count the number of times she has been good to me. She’s been since I met her.
So back to TWASO, you dropped it, what do you expect from it? What do you want TWASO to do for your career?
AMERADO Even though I have ‘mempe’, I would want TWASO to be my biggest song or maybe my biggest breakthrough song. After that, I’m going to drop all the huge huge projects. I have top features, which I don’t want to discuss now. I want TWASO to put me on that level that will drive all the attention of Ghanaians so that I can come in harder than even TWASO.
Like you said you have top features, do you want to mention names?
Are they all going to be part of the album?
Those songs are not on the album, the album will solely be about me maybe somebody will be featured. These top features need to be released before the album.
If someone comes to you and says Amerado, you are going soft. What will you tell the person?
I will tell the person that #Twaso, simply because of de3 y3b3y3 mo b3ka. If you don’t drop the song, they say you are sleeping, if you switch to commercial too, they say you are weak. I have fans that love hardcore rap and I will give them back to back hardcore but I will be doing more of #Twaso too.
You have gone through image rebranding. You dropped the hoodie which was an extension of you and now showing us your face.
I still have the hoodie. That’s a way of telling people how soft I’m getting. I can’t always cover my face, now they have understood that I’m the hoodie rapper, what more can I offer, take it off and get the girls, get a different kind of people, now get them together; wear the hoodie sometimes and sometimes take it off.
But Amerado, you know you’ve caused a certain debate in the industry. When you said you don’t want to be referred to as an upcoming artist, so now every artist I’m meeting is saying they are not upcoming and their reference is you. How key was getting that tag off you?
Big man, you’ve known me for years, maybe 4/5years, the Amerado of 2016, is not the Amerado now because I am putting in work and when I put in work. I deserve the credit, back then, I was seen as the underground to upcoming, why can’t I be a young artist because I feel am established. People know me when I step out, people see me when I go to shows, Obrafour, Abeiku Santana, NYB like ‘top top’ people love me and I’m on their list.
Top 50 rappers of all time and I was in there, DJ BLACK’s top 50 rappers so nothing shows that I’m an underground or upcoming. I see myself as an established act, a young artist, and even going out to play shows. No upcoming will get that so I want people to accept that I am a young artist, not to think that I’m arrogant or proud but I’m standing for myself and saying the truth.
It’s about time we respect the positions of our artists. Sometimes when you are not the A-list artist they might call you underground in their post online but it’s not right. We are all trying to put the image of Ghana on a very good level so they should also appreciate our works. Amerado is not upcoming and I stand by that, and if all my fellow artists love that and they will also stand for themselves.
So me personally, I won’t refer to you as a fast-rising artist because I know the journey, I know where we began from and where we’ve gotten to but for the new artists coming up, who is starting the journey like you began can they be tag as upcoming?
Yes, they can be tagged as upcoming, I don’t want them to be tagged as underground; they are now coming up, so they are upcoming. We are on the second stage now. Now it’s left for me to go nationwide. Nobody should be called underground, an underground is someone nobody knows and hasn’t even discovered talent.
You have moved from a “Kumasi based Artiste” to being fully embraced by Accra, how was the process?
I love Kumasi so much that I would always stand for them, I love Kumasi but I don’t want to be tagged solely as Kumasi based artist. Yes, I love to be called a Kumasi artist but I would want to be called a Ghanaian artist because all these artists from Volta, eastern; we don’t tag them as eastern/ Volta-based, we just say artists so where do we always classify the people from Kumasi as Kumasi based artists, like always putting us in a kind of cage. I don’t want that to happen, I always want to put Kumasi’s name on the high. I love being a Kumasi boy.
Looking at the current crop of rappers, there is a certain tilt towards artists coming from Kumasi. Kumasi is actually dominating the rap scene; Kumasi has you, Strongman, Kweku Smoke, Kofi Mole, Kofi Jamar, and more, so can we say, there is a takeover of the Ghana rap game by Kumasi?
You know, once upon a time it was ours, the Kenyas, Okyeame Kwames, Okomfuo Kwadees, we were dominating. We have the potential, we can get the glory back and I think we are doing a good job and people are seeing it. Definitely it’s going to switch from Tema to Accra to Kumasi and gradually we will get that.
Before you leave what message do you have for the fans?
I want to tell the fans to stay put, in these hard times, stay safe, and Corona is real. Make sure you don’t get yourself into trouble and please make sure you stream the songs; the Ghanaian artists need your streams, I know you people love downloading but you guys should also get used to the streaming so that we can make money especially in this hard times Corona is here. We get a little money to fund ourselves as we are home and entertaining you. God bless you all for supporting me. And shout out to muse Africa. God bless you, everybody.
Interview by Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh
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