“Amen is everywhere. We’ve travelled 17 hours in the past two days and performed to crowds of over 5,000 people. This is my craziest hit ever!” Yaa Pono is clearly pleased about the reception to his latest anthem. Released late last year and inspired by performing at Fela Kuti’s The New Africa Shrine, he’s just released the video for Amen, which sees the Ghanaian rapper dressed like a pastor and eyeing up the ladies in a nightclub.
Born in Tema, he released his first mixtape The Psalms in 2007, signed to Ghana’s respected Pidgin Music in 2009 and has garnered attention for his witty Akan freestyles and diverse sound spanning hip hop, afrobeats, dancehall and rock. In 2011 he collaborated with Efya (who appears with him here, wearing KISUA) on the hit Good Morning and his other big tunes include Bayla Trap and Tare Tare. But despite his solo success, Yaa Pono says he’s nothing without his collective, the Uptown Energy Crew. “We started out together when we were in school. We’re family, we’re blood. It’s not a paper thing we sign but we all have equal rights in the crew and we all hold the stage down. We’ll never split.”
Yaa Pono is currently finishing up his second album Sea Blue with his crew very much in tow. “Most of the songs relate to success and coming from the ghetto to become a musician,” he says. “Before in Ghana music was more about money than talent. Here comes a time when it’s about talking to the people and letting them know that you are a believer.” Amen to that.
Images: Nana Kofi Acquah
Words: Helen Jennings
Thanks to Joe Pup & Abrima Erwiah