SK. Kakraba was destined to play the gyil—a 14 bar wooden xylophone from the northern region of Ghana—at birth. Mastering the skill is a tradition passed down directly through his family, most notably by his uncle, Master Xlophonist Kakraba Lobi. After teaching lessons at the International Centre for African Music and Dance at the University of Ghana, he relocated to Los Angeles to be with his American-born wife. Now, many consider him to be the world's greatest xylophone player alive.
Today, The FADER is premiering the video for "BENEKPONGBILE," a track off his debut album, YONYE, forthcoming on Sun Araw's label Sun Ark Records. In the footage above, Kakraba is seen passionately playing the instrument on the floor of a balcony in L.A. while spectators casually stroll by. With a beautiful view of the sky in the background, the tune makes you feel like you could float into the clouds.
"It is a music to reactivate the dancers at the end of the performance," Kakraba told FADER in an email. "It is occasionally played in funerals. It can be played by one or three people. Gyil, gangar (drum) and Kuur (hoe blade use as bell). It is played for only elderly people's funeral. Whenever this music is played on a funeral ground, children who have not gone through this particular initiation rites are not allowed to take part in the dance. They are chased away some times if they are found taking part." Sun Ark Records will release SK. Kakraba's YONYE LP on July 17th (pre-order it here).