Dubbed the Hip-Hop capital in Ghana, Kumasi has been home to young artists who hope to venture into the ever-changing genre. The introduction of Drill and other subgenres of Hip-Hop can be credited as one of the many reasons why Kumerica is slowly rising into prominence.
Regarded as a way of life and less as a musical movement, Kumerica has quickly become a solace for the youth, as they could easily relate and adapt to the lifestyle. Over a decade ago, the movement began in the streets of Kumasi, Ghana, and it has gradually gained prominence, not only in the city but also throughout the country.
The term “Kumerica” coined by Ghanaian rapper, Blaq Foreigner, is a mash-up of the city of Kumasi and America. His reason for calling it such was that though they live in Kumasi, their lifestyle mimics that of those living in America. The trend ushers in a new age in Ghanaian Hip-Hop by promoting Rap in a style that pays homage to the American Rap culture of the early 2000s and early 2010s. Though this lifestyle had no official tag till Blaq Foreigner’s was popularized four years ago, it had already begun to gain traction on the street of Kumasi with a different version of Drill, popularly referred to as Asakaa, as the main genre associated with it.
Kumericans, like the Amapiano movement in South Africa, is noted for not only their distinct sounds but also for fostering a culture that is aligned with their music, adhering to a lifestyle and a structured system. Though Kumericans popularly recognized for their involvement in Asakaa, it is not the only genre with which they are involved; Asakaa became prominent as the cold and aggressive nature of the genre resonated with the violent life on the street Kumericans are accustomed to. It served as an escape from the illegal lifestyle they found themselves in and as a way to express themselves and motivate others through their music. As more people recognized this movement, the influence Kumerica had on the youth quickly expanded from the city of Kumasi to various cities in the country, including Accra, the capital city.
While this movement has been well-received by many, it has also faced severe criticism as the violence it indirectly promotes could be frightening. Kumericans’ musical approach is frequently compared to those of British and American rappers. However, while the musical style is similar, a notable difference can be heard that sets Asakaa aside from Drill.
After more than ten years in the underground scene, Kumerica is finally ready to not only dominate the mainstream industry. It is a movement that draws people from all walks of life together and crosses cultural and socioeconomic boundaries.
Updated on Jul 10, 2021 9:16 pm
— by Victoria Zeni
In Ghana, rap music is now taking new turns – introducing new phenomena. The drill curve is very direct, showing off subcultural subgenres. One of such curves is the advent of the new street phenomenon — “Kumerica“. The phenomenon, which is a direct and intentional fusion of the two words – Kumasi and America, has become a model for both local artists and the ones in diaspora.
Some of the Ghanian names that made way for the concept include – Kwaku DMC, who is a Kumerican rapper and songwriter. In September, 2020, the rapper announced the release of a somewhat controversial song he titled “Oseikrom Kumasi Kumerica“. He did this in a bid to identify with the trending social media word – “Kumerica” recognizing with the rich lifestyle of the Kumasi locals. It served as a follow up track to his previously released “You Don’t Know Me” – which had the imprints of his Kumerican association as well.
Another rapper flying high the Kumerican flag is Jay Bahd. Jay Bahd of Life Living Records label is seemingly very passionate about his Kumerican sound. His “Condemn” video is a very sinister representation of the rapper’s proposed sound. Using old cars as the background, dwelling on pavements with the gang seemed to be the order of the day as the rapper and his team were seen adorned in outfits popularly recognized with American gangsters. The music agreed to the atmospheric theme displayed in the video – heavy and aggressive bass coupled with a little to no melody in the instruments. The location of the video was at the second largest city in Ghana, Kumasi.
O’Kenneth is another rapper who is very passionate about the Kumerican culture. O’Kenneth is also signed under Life Living Records. He gained recognition globally as a result of his association with the Asakaa Boys Music group. This group consists of nine young and very talented singers and rappers. This was the group that started the Kumerican movement. Their link to the word Asakaa is born out of their ability to use street slangs on each of their tracks. Among all of his songs, the most popular among them is “AGYEIWAA” which featured Reggie and City Boy.
To know Asakaa is to be conversant with Reggie. Reggie has become a high flying name in the corridors of Kumerica. He is now one of the linchpins of the trending movement. Reggie used his 2020 single – “Akata Gang Gang” to announce his final commitment in releasing peculiar drill songs.
From musical structure to thematic environments, it’s clear that Asakaa is a reiteration of the Drill that was birthed sometime in 2010. One thing about the Kumerican people is that beyond the strong affiliations between their music videos and lifestyle, the one thing that makes them stand out is their unity.
Lambo Xtra’s Ifeoma Iheagwara, Victoria and Soltesh Iyere contributed to this report.
Photo illustration: John Etokhana