Exclusive Interview: Amaarae – “I’m a rap head because of my time spent in America, especially southern rap”

Amaarae speaks on the year of return, connecting with Santi and her main aim for 2020

Denzil Bell

7 months ago

By Denzil Bell

The African music scene is pulsating at the moment, with new genres being formed as we speak.

The rise has been glorious and I had to see it for myself. So a day after Christmas, I left for Afro Nation Ghana, based on the picturesque La Baadi beach in Accra. The festival was fantastic, standing as a true testament to how far Afrobeats has come. But a new sound is coming out from under the Afro music scene and that is alté; with the likes of Santi, Odunsi and Amaarae leading the charge.

Thankfully, whilst I was out in Accra, I had the pleasure of interviewing the warrior princess herself, Amaarae, and we had a beautiful conversation, speaking on the alté scene, her come up and finishing off with an epic quick fire five. Check it out below!


What do you think about this year of return that Christmas 2019 has brought to Ghana?

I think it’s dope to bridge the gap between the people in the diaspora and those who live over here. It’s really great for the creative culture as well, because I have noticed that most of the people that are starting to come back, work within the creative sphere, even if it is business, it’s still creative economics.

I first found about your music through your feature with alté artist Santi – how did you two connect initially?

He just reached out over the internet and was like, “I have this record and I’d like for you to be on it”, then he sent me two or three records and I ended up jumping on ‘Settle Down’, as well as ‘Rapid Fire’.

What’s your main aim for 2020?

My goal for 2020 is to bridge that gap between what I’m able to do globally, whilst still sticking to my African roots. I grew up in Atlanta and New Jersey, and then moved back to Ghana, so my influences don’t just come from here. I’m also a rap head because of my time spent in America, especially southern rap.


Quick Fire Five

Travis Scott or Young Thug?

Young Thug. I lived in Atlanta just before Thug blew up, so I was hearing ‘Stoner’ and ‘Danny Glover’ before the rest of the world heard it. I remember the first time I heard ‘Danny Glover’, I literally fell out of my seat. Young Thug is one of my biggest inspirations; he’s taken finding pockets in a beat to the next level and has influenced the way all artists approach their music. Young Thug to me is just as great as Elton John or Freddie Mercury!

European high fashion or African style?

I like a mix of both. Right now the designers in Africa are doing a madness and actually, a lot of European designers are getting inspiration from them.

The Ghana music scene or the UK music scene?

The UK music scene. The UK is actually at a very interesting point in terms of its music now and the different types of genres that are flourishing at the moment, from drill, to grime, to soulful rap are super refreshing. Also hats off to the producers, because they are really doing their thing!

Ghanaian Jollof rice or Nigerian Jollof rice?

Ghanaian Jollof rice. Nigerian Jollof rice doesn’t make sense and a lot of Nigerian’s that I know personally prefer Ghanaian Jollof rice.

Skepta or Stormzy for the feature?

Skepta. I like Skepta because he’s daring. I think Stormzy plays it a little too safe sometimes, Whereas Skepta will always do the cutting-edge sh*t. Even with his style, Skepta looks like a Rottweiler, he’s the human version of one and I love it! He reminds of DMX a little bit, he gives me that vibe; he’s raw.


Follow the artist’s journey: Amaarae

Interview by Denzil Bell