As in the rest of the world, traditional music has not tended to a huge industry in Ghana. King Ayisoba changed all this when in 2007 he won the Ghanaian Grammy Award for the most popular song of the year. «I Want to See You My Father» is a jarring and astonishingly spartan song – consisting of little but Ayisoba’s raspy voice and his trusty two-stringed guitar, the kologo.
The debut album of King Ayisoba – which this song is taken from – is called «Modern Ghanaians». It turned out to be a mild prophetic title: «It introduced a new era of creativity and originality in the Ghanaian music industry,» writes online newspaper GhanaWeb. However, most of King Ayisoba’s music – including this year’s «1000 Can Die» – is not as stripped down as «My Father».
Largely because of his producer Panji Anoff, hiplife – a Ghanaian music style that draws on hip-hop and dancehall – is seamlessly woven into the more traditional kologo music. In addition to the lyrics, which are largely about building a strong, but also self-critical African identity, it is especially to this extent that the Afrofuturist in King Ayisoba reveals himself. He shows that the Ghanaian way forward is through uniting the modern with the timeless wisdom that lies within the traditions.
Text: Kim Klev