Ghana’s Asakaa Boys Talk Influence of Pop Smoke and Drill Music | Teen Vogue

In their local colloquialism, Saka is another way to say “kasa,” which means “to speak” in the Akan language. The term Asakaa, therefore, refers to how the group is able to speak and use street slang on each track. They’ve officially dubbed the Ghanaian drill subgenre to be Asakaa. Drill lyrics are often regarded as conveying aggressive messages, as seen in plenty of the genre’s music videos. The Asakaa Boys say they are simply rapping about their realities.

“We rap about what we see on the streets and what we go through in life,” says Kwaku DMC, Asakaa Boys’ member and sound engineer.

Pop Smoke fueled the Kumerica (a portmanteau of Kumasi and America)-based rappers to ensure that his legacy lives on. Members of the Asakaa Boys actually dropped out of school or gave up dreams or pursuing higher education to embark on their music careers. They say they don’t regret a second of it. “We brought a change to the game, people look up to us now because they know the music is making an impact and going global,” says Cedi City Boy, also known to many as the Prince of Kumerica.

The Asakaa movement took the region by such storm so much so that Ghanaians living in Kumasi while mirroring an American lifestyle renamed Kumasi, Kumerica. They have also taken it upon themselves to rename towns in Kumasi similar to the shorthand nicknames we’ve given popular cities like ATL for Atlanta and BK for Brooklyn.

As a native New Yorker who was born and raised in the Bronx to Ghanaian parents, you could imagine the confused look on my face when the rappers were claiming to be “from DC.” To my intrigue, they’ve allowed the Kumerican culture to become a lifestyle that’s influenced everything from their fashion, to the new names they’ve given towns in Kumasi such as DC (Dichemso), to even a new flag that they pledge allegiance to. “We only give these nicknames to the places it works for,” said Braa Benk, who also designed the Kumerican flag.

The Asakaa Boys haven’t been able to tour or feel their new-found fame beyond their phone screens and local shows, so Ghana’s Beyond the Return initiative’s events was the group’s first shot at a major concert. On Dec 26, the Afrochella Block Party was one of the only times that they got to perform for fans in the diaspora. Since its inception, founder Abdul Karim Abdullah says that the Afrochella Festival has made it its mission to celebrate homegrown talent. “The rappers’ success means so much for Ghana,” Abdullah tells Teen Vogue. “They were able to hone in on their own sound, produce and create content without outside support. It creates a new standard for rising talent here on the continent.”

The Kumerican movement isn’t limited to the Asakaa Boys — a number of independent artists and groups have also taken advantage of the rapidly growing drill scene.