Saturday, 26 June 2010

Around the World (Cup) In 30 Days: Ghana

In a race against the clock - otherwise known as the final on July 11th - H-T-A is attempting to check out artists from around the 32 nations competing at the World Cup Finals in South Africa. Check out the rest of the posts to date here.

Despite taking the seemingly more preferable route from group C to the knockout stages, plucky Team USA came up against a powerful Ghanaian side today. So let's focus on the positives and check out some tunes from the last African nation remaining in the tournament, carrying the torch for the continent's first World Cup.

Not so surprisingly for a continent with such deep roots between music and daily life, there are plenty of resources for artists from Ghana. The first that popped out in my travels was Ghana Music, which featured this understated, chilled tribute to Black Star - the plural version of which is the nickname of the national team - by Jay Ghartey:

Plenty of classic footy imagery to tie these together nicely. Moving into more strictly musical territory, a style of music quite the country's own is hiplife, an upbeat blend of hip-hop and more traditional highlife, reggae, and afro-beat influences. One of the more popular examples of which comes from Nana Boroo in the form of most recent hit Ahayede:

The reggae influence is evident right from the off and the tropical percussion lends an sunny, summer element to the song. It feels positive and alive, which is more than can be said for a lot of mainstream Western hip-hop nowadays. The influences of the latter can be heard in some of the beats and most certainly seen in the flashier elements of the video - Luxury cars? Check! Swanky house party? Check! Grinding girls? Check! - but are mostly subsumed by the more African influences, which makes it a pleasant change of tone.

So perhaps not your usual H-T-A fare but with fast rising indie-rock artists such as Vampire Weekend and Local Natives taking plenty of cues from Afropop, as well as the classic links via releases like Paul Simon's Graceland, it's interesting to explore what folks are listening to at a local level on the continent. 

MP3:  Vampire Weekend - Horchata (via Insound)
Taken from the album Contra, out now

Buy it at Insound!

MP3:  Local Natives - Sun Hands (via Insound)
Taken from the album Gorilla Manor, out now

Buy it at Insound!

All of which makes Ghana's continued stay at the 2010 World Cup a blessing...with the unfortunate side-effect of knocking out Bob Bradley's boys on the way.

No comments: