ACCRA, GHANA – An annual hip-hop festival in Ghana celebrated the West African country’s take on the American-born music and culture. Performers used their music and art to represent culture and life in Ghana, infusing local languages, fashion, and sounds into hip-hop style.
Selorm Attikpo, creative director of Yoyo Tinz, a platform dedicated to promoting hip-hop in Africa, and co-founder of last week’s festival, says hip-hop in Ghana has grown from its early days of cassettes imported from the U.S. to today, where artists rap in local dialects to tell their own stories.
“There has been a lot of transformation, a lot of fusions, some people say Afro-hip-hop, some people say Afro-trap, so we still get influences from the States, but also there is that side that tries to incorporate what we have here, the culture into the hip-hop, so it has different forms,” Attikpo said.
The festival works to highlight not only music, but also graffiti, DJing and dance. This year, dance was the main element highlighted, with professional dancers holding workshops, and dancers battling each other to the crowd’s cheers.
Cameroonian professional dancer Ornela Tchinjo has been a fan of hip-hop since she was a child. She says the local language, dance and fashion in Ghana’s hip-hop scene shows the homegrown take, but she also points to how sounds, fashion and dance from across the continent have influenced American artists.
“It takes just knowing the two cultures and knowing that this is where the African culture is and this is the American one, so the fusion happens not only on our part but also there, because I believe it has been sensed that both cultures are rich,” Tchinjo said.
Artist Kingsley Kofi Deffor says hip-hop still has a lot of room to grow in Ghana, especially in the graffiti scene. He says more street art across Accra will help beautify the city, but he wants more people to offer their walls to local artists.
“People normally don’t give us their walls when we ask them to give us their walls for free, to do some beautiful art on the street,” he said, “but some other people also love it and they give us so, it is not too much in town but people are getting to know the culture.”
Organizers say future festivals will focus on different elements to both celebrate those in the scene and to encourage others to experience the rich homegrown hip-hop culture Ghana has to offer.
WATCH: Hip-hop in Ghana