Kweku Smoke (government name Paul Amankwa) is a Ghanian rapper and songwriter who rose to fame after a collab with one of Africa’s most iconic contemporary rappers Sarkodie. Smoke’s trap sound dips into the Asakaa category, but he is not one of the Asakaa Boyz. He’s an independent artist, with his music distributed by Africori. In his song On The Streets, released in 2021, he raps alongside Kwesi Arthur, a prominent drill rapper from Tema, Ghana.

Kweku Smoke – On The Streets [Feat. Kwesi Arthur] (2021)

On The Streets

Smoke’s video opens up with a sample of Professor Patrick LO Lumumba speaking on corruption in an interview for SaharaTV. Lumumba is a Kenyan who served as the Director of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission from September 2010 to August 2011. The sample of his talk preaches against corrupt politicians whose riches are acquired purely through malpractice and corruption. These politicians are more like dictators, says Lumumba, because if you try to fight back against them, they will do everything in their power to neutralize you. The visuals correspond: men in black suits eat money like it’s nothing, laughing in the faces of the audience of children and youth watching them on TV.

Professor Lumumba on corruption in Africa for SaharaTV

Smoke raps about building houses and buying land, about having big visions and people praying on his failure. The whole video, he is the leader, consistently preaching his messages to the people: as a politician speaking to a crowd, as the driver of a truck yelling through speakers, and among a tough looking motorcycle gang.

Between scenes of his rapping, clips of people surrounded around a TV that shows a man in a suit eating fried fish, offering it to children behind him before snatching it away and eating it himself. Another sample plays, another speech about the insidiousness of corruption: “What lacks in Africa is punishment. Impunity is alive and well in Africa. We camouflage theft by giving [it] nice English names. ‘Money laundering’, ‘fraud’, ‘embezzlement’, and all those veneers[…] Let us call these men and women by the right leg. They are thieves.” Throughout the video, a message is shown on a cardboard poster, held by a young boy: “WELCOME TO REALITY”. Smoke is waking people up, inviting them into his world where yes, there is corruption, but there can be revolution as well. We can come out on top.

The scenes that follow are images of rioting, of young men getting their hair shaved in preparation for something, perhaps Smoke’s revolution.

Kweku Arthur jumps on the track, rapping quickly and smoothly, proclaiming himself as a leader: “Only real niggas dey my category”, “I live in the present my mind dey future”, “Cut off my hair watch them follow the leader”.

The video encompasses the frustrated feeling of Ghanian youth, living under corruption from their political leaders. In one scene, Smoke and Arthur seem to capture a politician, enclosing him in the metal fences they were climbing and shaking. The video ends with the text ‘WELCOME TO REALITY’ in bold over a drone shot of the city, ‘WE NEED TO GO INTO POLITICS TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMS THAT BOTHER US’. On The Streets is a good example of trap politics (or the politics of trap music) and the way rappers embedded political messaging into their art. Ultimately, Smoke’s video is a hopeful call to action, he indulges himself with imagery of him in powerful leader positions, but he is also genuinely encouraging people to wake up to the corrupt realities of the continent and fight against them.


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