Azekel On His Trip to Ghana with Kwesi Arthur
Known for his genre-defying soulful sounds, Azekel teams up with Ghanaian artist Kwesi Arthur for his latest music video, DUPĖ; a pan-African love letter for feminine life.
The multidisciplinary artist has made his comeback following a semi-hiatus after the 2018 release of ‘Our Father’ and collab track ‘Learn to Love’ with anaiis. Shot on location in Aburi and Accra in Ghana, the self-directed video for DUPĖ elevates themes of divine feminine energy and acclaims his heritage through breaking metropolis borders and exploring the cultural unity of African and Jamaican identities.
We chat to Azekel about shooting the video in Ghana, connecting to the local community and how travel has elevated his own artistry.
Why did you choose to shoot the video in Ghana? Was there a deeper meaning there for you?
The record was with Kwesi Arthur, he's one of my favourite rappers from Africa right now, he's Ghanian and I’m Nigerian, and there tends to be rivalry in that conversation. I believe in no borders to Africa, so it was good for us to break down those barriers and show the beauty and unity of where we are from.
What was it like shooting the video out in Ghana? Were there any obstacles you had to navigate?
It can be difficult if you don't know locals, the music video/film community there is tight knit and you need to know them to make the most out of the shoot. Through spending time there and making real friendships, we were able to combat this. Ghana moves a lot more slower in comparison to London/UK, so it meant A LOT of pre-planning and time management.
How did you approach the topic of divine feminine energy for this video?
We approached it by showcasing the different aspects of essence and the beauty of the women and girls in Ghana from all ages and walks of life - like the mother and daughter making fufu, or the daughter helping her mother at her market stall. Things that may seem mundane but their presence brought life and energy to the space.
What was your experience with the culture and local community like?
It was insightful. The culture and community in Aburi where most of the video was shot, is a mix of Rasta culture and of African and Jamaican identities. There was a relocation of Jamaicans to Aburi during in the 1800s, and a lot of the families settled there. It was good to see the oneness there.
Was there anyone you met during your time there that left a lasting impression on you?
Yes a friend I met at the studio in Ghana, that showed me that we are all the same... The male African experience is universal, the cultural struggles, fears, and hopes are something we all feel, wherever we are placed.
What’s the best thing you experienced on your trip?
Theres so much to pin-point to a thing… Experiencing the joy and regard of life regardless of circumstance was humbling, having my art and I embraced by the people was so encouraging. Also the Fufu and Groundnut stew there slaps! I was eating fufu from a local spot by the studio I was working from in East Legon, at Maa P Catering.
Do you have any other recommendations for spots in the Aburi mountains?
Yes! The Aburi arts and crafts village is a great place we shot some of the scenes there, it's a real friendly community of artists and their families there. The Aburi Botanical gardens is serene and like no other.
How would you describe Ghana in three words?
Calm. Joyful. Energising.
What have you learned about your own artistry and identity through making this
I’ve learnt that its important to trust your own ideas, even when others don't see it. Every idea in my mind is good, and deserves to be brought to life. Being a perfectionist, you can kill the idea prematurely, but it deserves to live, and if it doesn't work, then try again. Mistakes are part of creation.
Has travel impacted your creative practice?
Yes very much, it gave me more resilience and confidence in trying out new disciplines, this is the first video I directed. I’m willing to do more.
What’s next for you?
I have a mixtape titled Analyze Love, it's a concept mixtape with heavy features from the African diaspora, about my exploration of the different aspects of love - parental, romantic, sexual, and brotherly love.