Ghana-based Benjamin Lebrave speaks fluent French and English, and can schmooze in Spanish and Portuguese. He’ll report on new African music every other week. This week, he celebrates the return of Ghana duo Bradez.
Kunta Kinte and Stone are Bradez, aptly named as their older brother Okyeame Kwame's protégés. Kwame is a towering force in Ghanaian hip hop, with a slew of albums under his belt. He was crowned artist of the year at the 2009 Ghana Music Awards, and now his two younger brothers are making serious noise. After "One Gallon" came "Simple" in 2009, and just yesterday Bradez released their new joint, "Wassup."
Download: Bradez, "Wassup"
Posting about these guys makes me feel great. On my very first trip to Accra, Ghana in September 2007, Bradez’ "One Gallon" was on continuous rotation. I fell in love with this bass-heavy, hip-shaking sound stirring up Ghana at the time. "One Gallon" was a major reason why I started Akwaaba, my label.
Today, just four years later, it's mind boggling how much Bradez' music has changed. I talked about this evolution with Stone, half of the Bradez duo, when he came to visit Accra from Kumasi. Stone is a great lyricist, but also a very smart guy. I've met many artists in Ghana and all over Africa, but I rarely encounter a young artist with such vision. Stone knows that to make it, he needs to push the envelope. Too many artists here rely on their name to get airplay, without trying that hard to deliver quality, original music. Bradez manage to connect with deep musical roots without relying on the ubiquitous highlife riffs and rhythms. With "Wassup," they teamed up with UK-based Ghanaian producer Brundai, who created a futuristic beat inspired by traditional Soroku music (Soroku is usually performed by local brass bands, in the street amidst colorful cloth, masks and a sea of kids running around). "Wassup is a party track. It talks about Bradez' status in the industry," says Stone. But clearly it's also a positive, energizing song, and Stone confirms that, saying, "no matter what happens in your life, you should forget about the bad things." And with a beat like this, who can even remember the bad things?
Also fresh out the studio is Bradez' inspirational song "Conquer the World," released last week in Ghana. Stone says the song, "talks about your state of mind and how you can use it to affect others." He pauses, then adds, "the times of living in the gutter are over. It's time to conquer the world."