It takes immense bravery to write, produce, and perform one’s music. It takes even more to utilize one’s platform to speak about causes they are passionate about. Hip hop has been a vehicle for individuals to vocalize their thoughts and opinions on societal matters. Hip hop has given artists space to better express themselves and their perspectives while also bringing awareness to their audiences. This wave of activism through hip-hop music is increasingly seen in Ghana amongst the new generation of artists. Rappers are seeing their music and platforms as being vital in bringing awareness to social issues. Upcoming Ghanaian hip-hop artists address the problems, take risks, and speak up, even if no one else will.
The graphic that I made to showcase my playlist is simple but symbolic. I incorporated the flag colors of Ghana to represent the playlist’s focus on Ghanaian hip-hop artists. There is also an image of the sun setting on the flag. This is not only to emphasize the title, “Gold Coast,” but to symbolize new beginnings. As the sun sets, a new day begins. The sun symbolizes hope, as the upcoming artists are bringing hope through their music and activism. An African woman is featured in the center of the sun to symbolize Africa as the heart of this activism wave and drive of social movements. Africa is the heart of all people, culture, music, diversity, and much more. African artists are at the forefront of these social movements and bringing awareness to pertinent societal issues. They are the catalyst for change. Lastly, I named the playlist’s title to be “Gold Coast” because of its rich history and significance. European colonizers identified Ghana as the Gold Coast due to its ample supplies of gold. Since then, Ghana has flourished as a country with its rich diversity, economy, and culture. While the country broke free of its colonization bonds, it still represents a place of wealth and beauty. With so many Ghanaian artists producing incredible music, the country is thriving and maintaining its prodigious reputation.
The first song is “Gold Coast” by ELi featuring Wanlov the Kubolor. ELi is a Ghanaian rapper who collaborated with Wanlov the Kubolor and brought awareness to Accra’s Labadi beach in the song. Recently, Accra has become a city drowning in discarded plastic. There is a river of plastic bottles and bags are strewn throughout Accra’s neighborhood, and the pollution is rampant. The neighborhoods are vulnerable to flooding. In 2015, the clogging from the accumulating plastic resulted in floodwater forcing dozens of people to flee their homes.
The second song is “Never Rest” by Kwame Write, featuring Wanlov the Kubolor and Choco Guilene. The song is a social commentary and is a fusion of Hip Hop, Hip Life, and more. It protests the action of the Ghanaian government that sells the biodiverse, minerals, and water-rich ecosystem of The Atewa Range, despite opposition from the local communities and international conservation organizations.
The third song is “Come Home” by Okyeame Kwame, also known as Kwame Nsiah-Apau or the Rap Doctor. He is a notorious Ghanaian rapper, songwriter, entrepreneur, and creative director. His lyrics often incorporate didactic themes, poetry, and social consciousness. His song embodies his incredible ability to portray societal problems. It addresses the repatriation and freedom of Black people in the diaspora. It encourages the African diaspora to return to the continent and contribute towards its advancement.
The fourth song is called “Brown Paper Bag” by Sarkodie featuring M.anifest. Sarkodie is a Ghanaian rapper known for his lyricism. He contributed significantly to the Ghanaian music industry throughout his career and is recognized for his work through several accomplishments, including the Vodafone Ghana Music Award for “Artiste of the Decade. In the song, Sarkodie examines the reasons for the systematic racism against the African and African-American communities. The brown paper bag is symbolic of how the white, Western nations short-change Africans and African Americans. Sarkodie calls out capitalist, Western nations for exploiting and short-changing African culture and people to divide the black community. Uniting as African people, taking what belongs to Africans and African-Americans across the world, and finally achieving freedom is what Sarkodie conveys.
The last song is called “True Friends” by FOKN Bois featuring Mr. Eazi. The FOKN Bois is a Ghanaian music duo consisting of M3NSA and Wanlov the Kubolor. They gave the world the first Pidgen Musical and are celebrated due to their unconventional shock lyrics, performance art, and progressive sonics. The song’s background is crucial, as it was explained that the FOKN Bois was offered $100,000 by an investor, on the condition that the group changes their artwork and band name, as they gave off a “gay vibe.” The FOKN Bois responded by telling them to “fok off.” Ghana continues to uphold British Colonial Laws that criminalize homosexuality, thus making the atmosphere hostile towards the LGBTQIA+ communities. The FOKN Bois speak out against this homophobia in their song and acknowledge their true friends and allies.