Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, Ghanaian-American singer, rapper, dancer NanaBcool blends smooth, soulful vocals with electrifying dance steps to bring a fresh groove to RnB. We caught up with him to find out why he is the future of black music? his thoughts on black history month and his journey from our ears to our hearts.
So,Where did you grow up?
Columbus, Ohio Eastside (Turnberry)
How was it like growing up in Ohio and what type of family unit did you have?
Growing up was cool, I grew up in a Ghanaian family with my mom, dad, sister, and my grandma. I was surrounded by the Ghanaian community at home and church. And I grew up in a neighborhood where pretty much all of my best-friends lived, I feel like I always had a strong support system in my endeavours and when I got my first condenser mic all of my homies were in the basement rapping and singing with me, the love from them is still here to this day.
How did you get into music?
My dad plays the keys at my church, while also on his side of the family every one of his brothers plays the piano; so growing up there was always music in the house and my mother
My parents had Michael Jackson’s Dangerous tour in Bucharest on Vhs and I played that concert at-least 10,000 times (see what I did there lol) I was always being put onto good music.
2 years back you dropped the 2am cruise EP, what inspired that EP and do you have any favourite tracks on there?
That ep was inspired by life during 2012-2013. I moved from Columbus, Ohio to Chicago, Atlanta and finally New York within those years. That ep was supposed to summarize my journey up until that point.
My favourite song on that project is Ohio Player. Being from Ohio we have a lot of hometown pride, so being able to make a song that details some of my stories on the come up means a lot to me.
The track 10k hours sees you singing about diversifying your income streams, a lot of growing up as well as decision making…how much of those thoughts are still relevant right now?
I honestly still feel the same but I play a lot more shows now. Listening back I feel like I spoke things into existence with that song …“I’m finna play these shows, I’m a live nigga” and I still believe in the concept of 9-5 and 6-9. At the time I was spending as much time possible in the studio really figuring out my sound, though I’m still writing and evolving my sound, I’m working on getting my 10k up on the stage
10k hours is where the perfection starts not where it ends.
So, you’ve recently dropped the video for “Ice Tea”, it’s very fresh and playful compared to your older works…can you tell us a little more about the song and video?
This song is me detailing a day in the life of a young person living in Brooklyn. You find me post 2amCruise more confident and more secure in what I’m doing, that’s why I feel like I’m the Sugar Honey Ice Tea aka The S.H.I.T. The second verse is me reminiscing back to 2012/2013 when I was in the process of moving to NYC and in the process of quitting my job at the bank (advice that I got from a friend and my uncle).
The video was us trying to set the vibe of just kicking back and hanging with the homies. Ice tea is the name of my upcoming album due in March, so Ice Tea is the product that I’m now selling. I feel like everyone feels like they are the sugar honey ice tea(Shit) at some point and even if they don’t they should; so we had to add the infomercial to give y’all that energy.
We know that a historic/iconic month is here, how’s Ohio during Black History month, how is the vibe?
To be honest I haven’t lived in Ohio since Feb 2012. I don’t know if black history month in America is any different. The way I grew up, my schooling copped out and took that time to talk about Martin Luther King Jr. year in and year out. They never took the time to speak about the plethora of black heroes America has experienced.
My thoughts on black history month are that in America its a cop out. Black history IS American history. The truth is America was built for free on the backs of black people and they decided to give us a month? Naw I want more, we deserve more waaay more.
Would you say enough is being done to teach black and mixed race kids about their history?
Definitely not, unless it is a specialized school or if kids have one those special teachers, but it’s not a priority if you’re talking about schooling, they teach about Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King and if you’re lucky you might hear a sentence about Malcolm X. I was lucky enough that my family raised me with teachings about different black inventors, and revolutionaries. My moms and pops had my sister and I read so many different books by black authors. I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley when I was around 12. So I was brought up to be somewhat militant. Being Ghanaian I had the chance to learn about Ghanaian heroes also, I’m grateful for that.
What legacy do you want to leave behind with your music?
The legacy I want to leave behind is that I made quality art and stayed true to myself while helping black people in any way that I can. I want it to be remembered that I always represented for my culture.
Thanks for giving us an opportunity to know a little bit more about you and your music, it’s important for the global community and the future of black music.
Thank you guys for reaching out to me, it means a lot. Peace and blessings,
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What’s the hype about Two Point Owe’s Don’t Be Afraid – Dilla Tribute?
J.Dilla was a prolific Detroit underground hip-hop producer and rapper, known to the general masses as 1/3 of the soulful hip-hop group Slum Village. Dilla grew up in a family of musicians with his parents performing as an
He went on to produce A Tribe Called Quest’s Grammy award nominated album Beats, Rhymes and Life and over his career and to his untimely death, this highly gifted musician grew an almost cult like following from avid hip-hop lovers…Globally.
As we come to the end of #DillaMonth we open heartedly and with ease celebrate one of his biggest fans who could be said to have inherited Dilla’s musical genius and spirit.
I’m talking about South African born and Stuttgart based Two Point Owe, a prolific producer with a career that spans from working with the likes of a beat crazy duo called Jungle
In this track he decided to pay another tribute to his idol by creating a song out of his favourite Dilla joints, from the drums, stabs, effects and even raps. Check out and download (free) his “Don’t Be Afraid – Dilla Tribute”
Steezy Stylish Live from the East Side (Review)
Ekse Live from the Eastside is a sonic landscape painting of a prolific and seasoned MC from the East Rand. LFE is a high definition story of the life of Hip-Hop and the hustle with all its good, bad and ugly. The album includes enough hidden nuggets to keep you sustained for a long time to come.
Steezy Stylish is a rapper, songwriter and music producer from Kwa-Thema in the Eastrand who prides himself in translating the sights and sounds of township life into melody and music laced with articulated lyricism.
The Intro stood out for me, I was immediately drawn in by an audio clip at the beginning which makes a scathingly honest criticism of the youth by Prof. PLO Lumumba…as I patiently waited to hear steezy’s take on the topic. The track goes into a lot of ills that stunt our growth as people from the township and the urgency to change that. It’s not a guideline or a blueprint but a pretty motivational track to make you aware of what’s really happening to us in the hood.
Op n Af
is the essence of the go getter attitude that built the Eastrand. It feels like a township December when everybody is back home from the cities while reflecting on the continuous hustle and getting into the mix of things by any means necessary. A suave gangster track that will teleport you back to the Tkzee Mambotjie days.
Begins with a clip from a Eugène Terre’Blanche interview where he discredits the worth of Johannesburg, this clip brings much into context when it comes to the question of land expropriation and where the real value lies. The track is reminiscent of the egotistical battle cat style of rap that birthed some of the illest rappers to ever come out the East. It’s really something for the head bobbers with a quart, a blunt and a backpack. I’m ill is definitely one for the streets and deserves a listen!
Is his latest single out, a feel good track jam packed with kasi nostalgia and the township party culture. It builds itself ‘pon the foundation of “no money, no fun” and if you don’t have it then you’re just another insignificant number. The track is all sorts of jiggy and will have you singing along while swaying from wall to wall. A definite December jam worthy of being play-listed on radio and of course in your car, your phone and your house.
This album feels like home, it displays how observant and skilled Steezy Stylish is, this can be observed in his lyrics and vibrant hooks straight from Kwaito’s past. At one point you are reminded of who you are and the power that’s in your hands to change your situation and of those around you and the next you are Op n Af in the streets cutting through any distraction that’s in your way to achieve your goals. There’s tons of Kwaito and township references in this album; from beats, flows and hooks that are bound to have you feeling like a cold beverage with your day ones, kicking back and sharing some street knowledge.
Live from the Eastside is definately one for the festive season. Get it here:
Alslo catch him on IG below:
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Can Do In The City 2018: 6lack, MuraMasa, Aminé, Majid Jordan & more
Can do In the city 2018 hosted by Soulection had one of the most interesting blend of alternative musicians performing on one stage.The concert featured artists like 6lack, MuraMasa, Aminé, Majid Jordan,Sango and plenty more including a handful of Soulection djs.
This concert was quite an ambitious effort and honestly I spent weeks mulling over how they will “fill up Ellis Park”…wait, can I legally say that? Or how they would manage so many international artists with so many different requirements.
So I quit thinking, got myself together, caught an edge up on the way and I kept it moving. See I had underestimated the scenes that I would see, I had been in my own space and focusing on the hood for so long that anxiety struck me like a Jamaican bolt of lightning with a kung fu chop and as soon as I drove near Ellis park; I had a parking attendant running aside my car, asking to jump in so that he could take me to the best parking spot,(Really dude, a stranger, in jozi, jumping into my whip…anyways) my palms sweaty, my exterior cool and my paranoia on a 100, I decided not to trust the homie and and in true Jozi fashion…act like I know as I timidly muttered “ke sharpo bra yaka, ska wara”.
The streets were filled with a teenage spirit..I mean the streets were a spawn of a polygamous marriage beween Varcity/college students and Matriculants on their last weekend of the holidays, along with a side dish of some of us who are gently letting go of our relevance to the yout’.
E-cigarettes in the air, an occasional whiff of some good grade green sliding into our nostrils (no complaints here) and crispy golden brown Budweiser flooding over the cups…This was the perfect breeding ground for “worst behaviour” and soon this would become evident.
I was bummed to have missed Sango but from the murmurs in the crowd, it didn’t seem that I missed much and although Goldlink was unable to make the gig, Aminé widely known for his billboard 100 hit Caroline, pulled through with a genuine energy and wasted no time in catalyzing the repressed rage and fire from the restless crowd. One moment I was introducing my fine self to an excited Portland local and before I know it, Aminé had commanded the crowd hanging from the outside circumference of a rather empty golden circle to jump over and get closer….all hell broke loose as the barricades that seperated the haves and the have nots crashed to the ground and everyone leaped over and stampeded into the golden circle like 100s of fleeing buffalos.
The scenes weren’t as romantic as I write, many did get injured and I saw disturbing scenes of young girls being flung onto and over the rails…it was madness but there was a unified sense of love in the circle as he carried on performing as if it was just another day!
He really had fun with the crowd and brought the generations of followers together by spitting a sing along TLC – No Scrub Verse which continued into another popular and classic Kanye west verse.
Some crowd favourites that he performed were:
Campfire ft. Injury Reserve
This set really started with some real heat in the form of Jordan Ullman, the one half of the duo with an incredible ear for music and production skills that have really built his portfolio over the years with producer credits from songs such as Dj Khaled ft. Drake – Free and Drake-Feel No Ways to name drop a couple 🙂 however his entrance onto the stage was nowhere near the chart topping hip-pop and R&B music that he is most known for. His sound was far from popular music but more of a borderline melancholic future bass with sprinkles of uplifting chords to lighten up the mood as he built up the vibe for his longtime partner Majid Al Maskati to come on stage.
A New York Times profile once called them “Drake’s secret weapon” and after I watched them perform and how the crowd…especially the lovers , reacted to the music, singing word for word and dancing in one of those “take it from behind, I don’t want to miss a second of Majid Jordan” type of slow dances, I shared the same sentiments, these dudes are legit secret weapons of R&B and where it’s going.
The visuals on stage were very sexual and kinda overemphasized the apparent theme of their music and although they have super quality jams, I felt a bit drained after their long performance of electro-R&B, because let’s face it, I am single, been standing for hours on tar road and could do with a brewsky…So in short; the beginning was a bang, the middle was a streeeeeetch and the end was really emotional, in the sense that the Majid expressed how Jordan saved his life with music. Music saves lives kids!
The two met at a bar in college and made music for only 18 months before they created a number 1 hit for Drake, titled “Hold on”. The duo is now signed to OVO Sound. They definitely made some new fans in South Africa. Here are some of the buttery songs that they performed:
Gave Your Love Away
I have been following 6lack since listening to his somewhat gloomy Free 6lack album in 2017 and I was always intrigued by his slow and effortless style of contemporary R&B, bedded on bass beats and synthesized keys; needless to say his song writing skills encompassed different stages of “fuck boyish” modern day love and its problems. This album affirmed his arrival and built him a cult following. He has been touring the world and America for a while and was now about to grace us with his first ever performance on South African soil…or tar in this regard – so naturally I had high expectations for the Grammy nominated and ever so busy artist.
As usual it took a long time to get his stage set up and his DJ tried to keep the crowd hyped up with upbeat tracks and a near patronizing “African” song. The crowd grew restless and the lines for the bar increased by the second…by this time the teenage spirit had evaporated into fumes of vomit, cheap vodka, anxiety and excitement.
Soon enough the the stage lights exploded to the rhythm of the bass line and a miniature figure emerged from the smoke…it was 6lack; His mic was not working but he kept on performing to a confused crowd who just did not know why their favourite artists was inaudible…eventually he received another mic and he literally rapped his hit songs and had an underwhelming stage presence..with a very little singing.
The crowd went wild from what I assume was from the sight of their favourite musician rather than the performance itself. As a fan I found myself taking walks and thinking about the bar than actually listening further. What was mad surprising though was when he pulled Nasty C on stage and Nasty performed Jungle with the energy of a young buck with big bucks. Nasty C was able to lift up the crowd’s energy for the second half of the performance. All in all I was pretty disappointed by 6lack’s approach to this performance.
Some of the songs performed were:
Pretty Little Fears feat. J.cole
Ex Calling, etc.
This has to have been my favourite performance, The 22 year old Mura Masa who is known by his die hard followers for his Lotus Eater song, was the closing act of the concert and a much needed boost of energy for a crowd that was exhausted from dancing and walking around since the early afternoon. There was a great deal of excitement and wonder as the multi-instrumentalist’s stage was set up, the dispersed crowd slowly huddled back into formation as soon as the visuals started playing.
His visuals carried the same identity as that of his self titled album and kept the audience glued to the stage with every song displaying its own and unique visuals…from a branding perspective, I’d have to say it was pretty cool bringing the album to life, if you know what I mean.
He came onto the stage with Bonzai who injected the crowd with life as she started rapping and singing on Nuggets , the crowd lit up like distant rockets and sang along religiously! Muramasa was also joined by his long time live tour collaborator Fliss who performed a variety of songs with him and honestly, her vocal dexterity and range coupled with her energy and dance moves felt like we were experiencing the reincarnation of Lebo Mathosa. Some of the songs you missed out on are:
What If I go?
Can Do – In The City 2018 was an ambitious attempt to bring in some of the leading young alternative and electronic musicians of our time and our future and I would love to see them do it again!
Photograohy by Xara Fourie
Words by: Lethabo Ngakane
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Ruby Gill – Winter. A sound track to adulting.
Ruby Gill is a singer/songwriter and “aspiring redhead. earth enthusiast” from Jo’burg who’s currently based in Melbourne, Australia. She wrote her first song at the tender age of 11 and has since managed to sharpen, whilst still continuing to explore her sound as a young womxn.
This track, ‘Winter‘ boasts a strong and passionate message about loving and matters of letting go of what must be left. This comes through her powerful and yet, soothing voice as she takes it between higher and calm notes. It is a well-balanced blend of Pop, mixed with the raw acoustics of traditional Folk sound, resulting in something that’s groovy and easy to dance to. An example can be found in the different guitar sounds; one being a rocking electric and the other being a therapeutic acoustic. Everything just comes together to form a lively and energetic song which contradicts the dead and lowliness of the cold season thus giving bright hope of what’s to come, for it’s not a sad song. As a songwriter, Ruby’s poetic yet comprehendible lyrics make her deserving of praise and as a singer, her voice alone is enough as a soother of sorts.
With the winter season nearing its end, I reckon jamming this song is the ideal way to wave it goodbye, with no hard feelings at that. By the way, the tune came out as an exclusive download, limited to only 100 for free but you can still down load it on the link below.
Words by: Tsheola Asavela
Devour Ke Lenyora – We’re almost there EP
Devour Ke Lenyora is an emcee/songwriter, with a vocal ability as well who hails from D-Town (Daveyton), Benoni. This is her first EP project titled We’re Almost There, and it has a total of 5 tracks and a lot to say.
The intro is titled ‘Things I could’ve said’ Which is an emotional foundation for this project. She goes through a soft retort of things that she wishes she could have said to what seems to be a significant other that she left vulnerable because of her inability to love him, the song is broken by hooks of her melodies over an acoustic guitar, singing “Thula, thula sana, umama uzobuya” (quiet down son, mother will return) words we believe are to a person she couldn’t mother nor love.
‘Blood On My Hands 2.0’ is divided into three sections – a snippet from the Lauryn Hill – MTV Unplugged album followed by a sinister yet sincere verse that she drops after pouring herself a drink, the verse consists of confrontations with God on judgement day, relentlessly hustling and deep thoughts about breaking the chains of poverty against seemingly insurmountable odds; and it closes with an outro from another Lauryn Hill clip topped by a few bars where she spits metaphors which compare her skill and demeanor to greats such as Thandiswa Mazwai and Brenda Fassie to name a couple. The beats are pleasantly mellow and enchanting, with some Jazzy and soulful elements that make them easy-going to the ear.
With joints like ‘Something To Believe In’ being a perfect example wherein she talks about faith, with Mx DaFrxshPrince on a joint effort in the composition. There are some interesting production vibes with unique and catchy beats as well, which are found in songs like ‘Envy’ and the love joint ‘Seasons Change’. As for the matter of the lyrical content, Lady Di pours out her heart and mind with all the honesty she can conjure up in her serious, matured style and her seasoned lyrical skills. She ends the EP with ‘Visible Ghosts’ where she talks about her dad.
I would certainly rate We’re Almost There as being amongst the D-Town classics and generally speaking; I rate it as a good and insightful listen with some lovely beats to relax by.
Words by: Tsheola Asavela