Exploring the capacity that the power of music, fashion and art as a joint force has to advance Ghanaian culture in the celebrated Year Of Return with Darkovibes as the muse for this progression.
Ghana was once a major hub for the transatlantic slave trade from the 16th to the 19th centuries. 400 years later, Ghana’s President Nana Akuffo-Addo declared and formally launched the “Year of Return” in Ghana in early this year for those in the Diaspora. It is a year of an awakening, a journey of reflection, of renewed self-discovery and vision.
In The Year of Return, the continent is reclaiming everything it has been stripped of. 2019 marks an important epoch in the history of the African continent, not least because of the significance of the diaspora’s engagement with its history, roots, and consideration of how those parts of its story can shape a more conscious future for black communities around the world. In Ghana, the whirlwind is only gaining speed in the fashion and music industries. Ghanaian art has penetrated the international scene with a force but remains largely misrepresented and undocumented -myriads of explosive design celebrating a vibrant interaction between traditional textile and fashion techniques and modern art forms have stayed under the radar for too long.
Leading up to this year, numerous artists have charged ahead with their own takes on Ghana’s unique cultural reinvention. Their innovation is inspiring and epitomizes the continent-wide effort to reclaim African voices, as well as the power to shape the trajectory of African culture and the narratives that evolve from that shared experience. This year, then, symbolizes an invitation for both diaspora communities and populations on the continent itself to collaborate and to set the tone for the next few years, decades and centuries in black history. In this editorial the prospect of Carlos Idun-Tawiah using his lens to participate in this exciting editorial in changing the narrative about Africa and its people (on the continent and outside it).
Andrew Paul Nii Amu Darko, also known as Darkovibes is an exceptional music artist who, like many others, is thriving as a result of being around and experiencing the music creation process. After meeting his buddy and producer “vacs”. He began to explore music creation a few months after. From rapping to following trends, he abandoned what was conventional at the time in search of something more, a unique and personal style.
His combination of Twi and Ga (two popular Ghanaian languages), English and West African Pidgin in his music, often done with dizzying adeptness, carry the spirit of a new age of African music which refuses to be bound by national and continental boundaries. Touching on love, dedication and the very art of creating, Darkovibes is set to release Kpanlogo early next year – a tape with star-studded features ranging from Wizkid to Kwesi Arthur, which seeks to explore his Ga heritage in a way only him can truly execute.
Darko represents the youth culture and also the music scene in Ghana. A few weeks after dropping a collaborative single video with Runtown ”Mike Tyson” he returns back with new music featuring Mr. Eazi ”Come My Way ”. The song delivers a romantic set over the catchy, mid-tempo.
His influence stretches far beyond his solo projects; Darkovibes is also a member of La Meme Gang, a group of artistes disrupting the Ghanaian music scene with an eclectic sound that intersperses Ghanaian hip- and high-life with trap and Afrobeat. Beyond art, his personal style and aesthetic exude Accra street art and constantly bring ingenious artists to the spotlight. This novel intersection of different art and cultural forms speak to Darkovibes’s heart for challenging the boundaries of creativity and honouring the global forces that have shaped this moment in the history of alternative music.
The designers highlighted in this shoot carry no less powerful messages about their contribution to changing the narrative about African design and people, through their work. Atto Tetteh taps into African masculinity and draws out the incredible history that shapes the stories of men, the communities they impact and what they stand for, through these vibrant pieces. Jermaine Bleu appeals to the burgeoning culture with distinct elements of elegance and boldness pervading every single one of his pieces, while Permission carries the essence of contemporary African fashion.
African fashion and music are gradually being reclaimed, but the work doesn’t stop there. Much more needs to be done to solidify the place that the continent’s art forms have staked on the international scene, and to ensure that the traditional and authentic African experience – beyond the glitz, flash, and pomp – remain at the centre of the work that African creatives do in the years ahead. This editorial symbolizes just that – the past as it is being renewed, the present as it is being retold, and the future as it is being created by the people it belongs to.