Africa is a continent that is ascribed for the inspiration that it has ploughed to the rest of the world. Known as the birthplace of rhythm, “the Mother-land”, as African American people often call it, it has had to endure the imperialism America and Europe imposed on its musical culture. This has made South African artists accept mediocre as their selling point for many years, especially those pursuing urban music genre such as Hip-Hop and Rhythm and Blues (RnB).Over a decade or so, African musicians have made significant strides in exploring and embracing their continent for what it is and not the ‘false imagery’ of it that is usually painted by the western media. In that process, not only they have been able to discover their own voice but they’ve also been able to feed the global society original music that speaks in volumes.
Even though the African music business is still overshadowed by American and European influence, the battle is not all lost. Within the urban music sphere, there’s an array of musicians who are really pushing the envelope and putting Africa on the map through their efforts to tap into African contemporary music.
One of the leading artists is an astute Ghanian rapper Kwame Ameteppe Tsikata who is popularly known as Manifest. This multi-award winning hip-hop artist and songwriter was born in 1982, in Accra, Ghana. Having been around his grandfather J.H. Nketia, one of Africa’s foremost ethnomusicologists at a very young age. Tsikata was always knowledgeable of breadth of African Music but only gave music a try after he had migrated to Minneapolis-St-Paul, United States of America (U.S) in 2001 to further his studies.
He attended Macalester College where he graduated in 2005 with a BA (Bachelor in Arts) in Economics. While was staying in Minneapolis, Manifest got introduced to the music scene and managed to link up with artists such as Bother Ali and Atmosphere.
In 2007, Manifest released his debut solo album, ‘Manifestations’, which he funded with royalties he earned through providing his voice to a Pepsi jingle that played nationally on U.S radio. Manifestations earned him “Songwriter of the year Honors” in the City Pages as well as top five albums of the year recognition in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
In 2009, he released a free album, the Birds and the Beats, to raise awareness and funds for the work of a non-profit, Young Entrepreneurs Africa. Soon after that, he got to tour with Africa Express and played gigs in France, Spain and United Kingdom.
In 2011, Manifest returned to his native country and shortly after that, he released his sophomore album “Immortal Chronicles: Coming to America. The project marked a decade of his life in the U.S and the beginning of his transition back to Ghana. It had the singles “Suffer,” “Asa,” and “Blue” (Chale what dey Happen). The video for the single “Makaa Maka” also got him nominated for Most Gifted Hip Hop Video at the 2012 Channel O Music awards.
In 2013, he won the “Best Rapper of the Year” award at the Ghana Music Awards, only a year after being tipped by BBC’s “The Strand” as one of four artists to watch in the World.
With two albums under his belt, this Ghanaian’s rap supreme has collaborated with lots of globally acclaimed music icons such as Damon Albarn (Gorillaz), Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Afrobeat co-founder Tony Allen, Erykah Badu, & more.
Speaking with Beverly Bryan in a telephonic interview (September 27, 2012), Manifest touched on how his native home influences him creatively and the statement he has made with his music. He says: “You know, they say if you propagate a lie long enough and loud enough people will start to believe it. But, in comparison, if you are able to propagate the truth about what you do and who you are even once it catches on very quickly. It is easier to sell the truth. So, I’m more easily selling the truth of who I am.”
Manifest is reaching for great and new heights across many fields. He is a co-founder of Giants Steps, a conference for entrepreneurs and artists, and his original fashion sense earned him a brand ambassadorship with Woodin – a company that produces African textiles. After sweeping two awards at the 2013 Ghana Music Awards and solidifying his spot as one of contemporary
The seasoned musician is currently busy working on several new projects including the soon to be released EP, “Apae”.