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Northern Ghana – Home to Ghana’s Afro-House music scene

When we mention House music, Ghana doesn’t usually come into mind but the genre has taken a form of its own in Northern Ghana particularly Tamale (Capital of the Northern Region).

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On the African continent, House Music is very vibrant in the South, with South Africans branding it as their world famous Kwaito.

via YouTube

House is a genre of electronic dance music characterized by a repetitive four on the floor beat and a tempo of 120 to 130 beats per minute (Wikipedia)

Music from northern Ghana is usually dominated by their indigenous sounds that has propelled artists like King Ayisoba, Atongo Simba, Wiyaala, Sherifa Gunu and more, rather than Afro-house.

In recent times artists like Fancy Gadam and Maccasio have tilted the narrative to afro beats and rap music but Afro-House is the trending genre.

Dance is an integral part of the various Northern cultures and it’s also the one thing that bridges the different sounds in the North.

via YouTube

It is also the fuel for the Afro-house craze gradually taking center stage.

The gradual wave hasn’t gained the spotlight it deserve due to the fact that the Ghanaian music scene is judged based on what happens in the south, particularly in Accra.

That is why Patapaa’s one corner will become a hit single, whiles the song he took inspiration from ‘Tin Gbanni’ by DJ Chare and Skotish wasn’t.

via YouTube

I caught up with Skotish and we delved into the Afro-House wave in the North.

Northern Ghana - Home to Ghana's Afro-House music scene
Coutesy: Skotish

Skotish is known for his laidback vocal skill, typical of African house. He teamed up with Dj Chare on ‘tin gbanni’ an afro-house record which became one of the biggest tune of the year (2018).

Via YouTube

Why do you think the Afro-house genre in the North isn’t getting enough media attention?

Skotish – Well, basically I will say it’s due to majority of the media being centered in the south. The media Space here (in the North) isn’t strong enough to project our works out there compared to musicians from the South so that’s how come.

How can Afro-house take center stage in Ghana Music?

Skotish – I believe if colleagues and musicians are able to focus on the originality that we derive from our roots and culture and infuse it with the modern sound it could create an appeal among the international market and this can immensely attract more listeners to our music.

What is making the North the hub for Afro-House music?

Skotish – Generally, people in Ghana are known to be happy people and social events and celebrations as a whole is very pre-dominant within the community in Northern Ghana. Besides due to our religious and traditional backgrounds. So being Happy is all we know (smiles) we need music with the type of motive to keep us going.

You recently released an EP titled Echo, tell us about it?

Skotish – The reason why I named my project Echo was that, I wanted the world to hear another side of Skotish. I wanted them to hear my voice and hear what I was capable of aside Afro-house. I decided to do something different for the fans and decided to do this type of genre with the plan than it will meet other markets out there. So it’s my debut album (Echo) and I have 5 tracks on it. All the songs were written and composed by me and all the songs were mixed and produced by AsaaseJ and one house factory. It was released on 20th of August (both online and physical copies)

Recently, Teflon Flexx from the Upper East Region won the unsung Artist at the recently held Vodafone Ghana Music Awards, in what is seen as a major win for the North.

Teflon Flexx identifies as an afro-house artist (one of the few to proudly flaunt it).

Credit: Teflon Flexx / Instagram

He is drawn to the Kwaito sound in South Africa with his singles Madina and Sakpaska following that rhythmic pattern but how did the love for house music begin?

The ‘Madina’ hitmaker revealed he fell in love with House music after listening to South African group Uhuru’s “Y-tjukutja”.

“It happened first when I heard this song “Y-tjukutja” by Uhuru – that is back in 2013. When I heard that song and I went and looked up a couple of songs from Uhuru and other afro-house musicians from South Africa. That is when I started building the love for Afro-house music.”

Teflon Flexx speaking to Muse Africa
via YouTube

On why the genre isn’t mainstream yet, Teflon revealed the lack of media attention is to blame.

“The Northern Industry is almost on a ghost mode. Only a few people know what is happening in the North and those in the other parts of Ghana that follow Northern music are mostly those from the North that have migrated to stay in the other parts so that is the reason why more attention hasn’t been drawn to the rising afro-house music in the North.”

“Almost every single artist (in the North) has an afro-house jam. Maccasio has some, he has been doing them for a long time even though he does with his Hip-Hop vibes. Fancy Gadam also has one or two and a couple of other artists – Fadi Lan, Wizchild and a couple of them are on the rise with those kind songs”

He called for Media support as a way of helping develop afro-house as a mainstream genre.

“The way forward is that we need more media space for the afro-house genre, I believe that one-day Afro-house genre could become one of the topmost genres in Ghana because I personally had a couple of studio vibes with a lot of artists in Ghana, both top and underground and they have tapped into my vibe and they have really come out with some afro-house nice styles that are really jamming but most of them aren’t looking at releasing them anytime soon because the nature of the industry in Ghana doesn’t really support the genre so to get media space may be a problem so that is the reason why afro-house is still low but I think with time when the media opens up media space afro-house, it’s really going to grow because people are really jamming to it. When I climb on stage most of the songs the crowd really jam on to are the afro-house jams and when you go to the north it’s even much crazier over there so I think the way forward is very clear”.

It has been very educative learning about the brewing genres in the Northern part of Ghana and I can not wait to take a trip up north and enjoy first hand Ghana’s house music scene.

With the north completely hooked to it, it’s just a matter of time before the whole of Ghana also jump on the wave.

Till then it up to Skotish, Teflon Flexx, SubZero and the others to keep holding down the Ghanaian house music scene.

Story by Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh || Twitter: @NYB_LIVE

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