“We’re really changing things right now,” Yaw Tog tells Apple Music. “Before, drill wasn’t in Ghana—at all. But now, we’re on top. And I’m telling everyone, we’re here to stay.” At 17, the Kumasi MC spearheads a radical charge to overhaul the identity of hip-hop in Ghana. In the nation’s second-largest city arose the Asakaa movement (sometimes nicknamed “Kumerica” for its mash-up of Kumasi and US street culture), a fresh take on the Chicago-born, London-refined rap style. Emerging as a leader, Yaw Tog crystallizes his promise on TIME, seven tracks he completed while finishing the final year of his studies. Rhyming in Twi, English, and Kumerican slang—where portmanteau words are conjured from both languages—he throws up gritty drill anthems with infectious hooks that capture an assertive youth uprising built on a newly shaped pan-African ideal. This triangulation even drew the attention of Ghanaian-British rapper Stormzy, who heeded the call of his homeland and offers an inspired verse on the powerful standout track “Sore (Remix).”
“A lazy person won’t be able to get anything from life,” Yaw Tog explains. “So, a lot of my impact is clearly down to my hard work, and soon, music will be my full-time [profession]. In this game, if you don’t know how to be yourself, and show that consistently, then people won’t understand where you’re coming from. The first step is just being yourself.” Let Ghana’s drill sensation introduce himself, and his brilliant debut EP, track by track.
Gold Friends “This is dedicated to my day-one Gs. They’re the guys that I started this whole thing with. I was in the studio, thinking of how they’ve been down from the start, and the idea came to me: ‘Do something for your guys.’ So, I just laid that on the beat. ‘Came from the dirt’—even as I was recording those lines [for the hook], it seriously touched my heart.”
Boyz “This is another one for my guys. It’s a party vibe—and honestly, I don’t go out that much, but they all do. And they’ve always pushed me and supported me with my music. I can remember times they would give me money to help pay for the studio, and sometimes I wouldn’t even go! I really appreciate them.”
Fake Ex “Almost everyone out there has an ex. So, it’s a good subject to make a song on, I think. I’m just putting myself in other shoes here because I don’t actually have an ex-girlfriend! To be honest, even my producer was pressuring me, saying, ‘This won’t work. What are you doing?’ I had to tell him, ‘Just trust me! This is for the people—and I’m sure they can relate to it.’”
Sore (Remix) “When Stormzy came in and said, ‘Yo, let’s do this song’—from that moment, I knew things would change for us. I couldn’t handle it; I mean, you can’t even pay for a feature from Stormzy. It was a huge surprise to hear he landed in Ghana, and when we linked, he advised me and just showed me so much love. It was like he was my big bro. With this track, we wanted to join up and send a raw message to everybody out there. I woke up one morning and that was all I was hearing [in my head]: ‘Yebe sore, yebe sore.’ I had that feeling that this song would blow. I just knew.”
Mood (feat. Sean Lifer) “Whenever I see clips of people vibing to this song, it’s always the gangsters! It’s about breaking the rules, so I had to do it for them. Sean Lifer is one of the beasts out here [in Ghana]. He’s a crazy MC, repping the Life Living gang. The way he records, his creativity, his words, flow, everything—he’s really out here, dropping rhymes off the top.”
Y33gye “So, this is said, kinda like, ‘Yeah G.’ But we’re taking it. It’s ours now! And it’s a real message to everyone out there: ‘We are taking back what you’ve taken from us. We’re coming for everything.’ It took me about a month to write this track, because I really wanted the message to hit.”
Time “I was thinking of the hustle, the struggle and pain that I’ve faced to make it this far. When I reflect on this, it makes me realize that my time is now. The music [scene] hasn’t always been popping in Kumasi. But even when the ball wasn’t in our court, we were working hard—day and night. All we lived and breathed was music, music, music. And now it’s really our time and we’re ruling.”


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