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Kumerica: The Coming of Age of Asakaa

With new Asakaa acts bursting onto the scene and more recognition locally, Asakaa is now a mainstay. The formula has always been resilience and belief in each other's skills. Asakaa was Kumerican in culture and lifestyle.

It is September 2020, and O’kenneth’s verse on Sore is making waves all over the internet. Covid restrictions are being let loose and abonten is back up. The verse from O’kenneth is so good, that it overshadows the other equally vibrant verses on the Kumerican hit and what will become most people’s introduction to the Asakaa boys.

But before Sore became a smash hit, Kawabanga, O’Kenneth, Jay Bahd and Reggie had already released Akatafoc. Kwaku DMC’s Off-White Flow which the late Off-White CEO, Virgil Abloh featured on his Apple Music show was out and the crew had started making waves.

With national recognition came the added pressure to continue to create and represent Kumasi nationally on the music scene. Although there were other acts from Kumasi, most of them were Accra-based.

Asakaa was Kumerican in culture and lifestyle.

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Sore and Akatafoc served as the blueprint for what an Asakaa hit should look like: they needed most of the Life Living Records crew on the song to make it work.  For better emphasis, O’Kenneth and Reggie released Straight Outta Kumerica in 2020. It had some great songs like Ya Parke, Bust, Believe and M.O.B, but these songs only appealed to their cult following. Kwaku DMC had two EPs on streaming before Sore came out.

Asakaa and Life Living Records understood the power of their collaborative efforts. They got to work quickly in 2021 with Agyeiwaa and Y3 y3 dom. But at this point, one had the feeling they were trying to recreate a period, an elusive moment. This is not particularly bad, especially for new acts, who Ghanaians were still trying to box together and fit into a category, a category that didn’t exist.

Asakaa faced the same problem as hip-life when it was first introduced – it appealed to a niche who had a taste for the foreign. This was going to be a big problem because things don’t move as fast in Ghana as in other places, and we are slow to change. For somebody new to catch on, they must do the familiar and Asakaa was anything but. For hip-life, the solution was to get high-life acts or singers on the songs to provide the familiar so they could still rap or ragga on.

Asakaa did the same but differently. Life Living Records had the talent in-house. Skyface SDW and O’Kenneth’s influence on the newer records became evident. From Agyeiwaa to date, most of the Asakaa songs that had gone on to be a hit had elements of Skyface or O’kenneth in there somewhere. Cinderella, Odo, Masesa, Oh Ma Linda, Obaa Hemaa, the list goes on.

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Asakaa is finally at a place where they are big enough to go on their own or together which they most likely would. They showed this with Xlimkid and O’kenneth’s joint project, Pain in Glory, one of the biggest projects from Ghana in the past year. Bad Energy is the only song that features other Asakaa affiliates (Jay Bahd and City Boy) but this was not the biggest song on the Album.

At this year’s Telecel Ghana Music Awards set for June, the boys have five nominations. In comparison, they had two nominations the year before, all being nominations for Jay Bahd.

In 2022, only the Sore Remix which didn’t feature any of the Life Living Records act and had Ghanaian-British rapper Stormzy on it was nominated. In 2021, the original Sore which took Ghana by storm was nominated. In 2020, Asakaa was just on the scene.

With new Asakaa acts bursting onto the scene and more recognition locally, Asakaa is now a mainstay. The formula has always been resilience and belief in each other’s skills. Individually, they are exceptional, but together, they are monsters. As a sub-genre of hip-hop and Ghanaian hip-life, Asakaa will be with us forever!

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