Kenyan electronica and Ghanaian spoken word combine on Poetra Asantewa’s “Round Pegs”

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Some really great things are coming out of Ghana, especially from its crop of feminist spoken word poets; women who are challenging social convention and accepted social stereotypes with their poetry and spoken word performances. Ghanaian spoken word poet Poetra Asantewa is a huge part of this vanguard of women musicians, her work earning her a spot in the 2016 Beat One fellowship and bringing her music to the global stage. Since then, she’s used the exposure the platform gave her to elevate her craft, exploring other genres and re-imagining the genre in which she’s made her name.

For her new single “Round Pegs”, Asantewa goes all the way to Kenya, collaborating with Ghanaian producer KMRU who is exploring electronica as a sonic medium. He creates a transcendental platform of shimmery synth melodies, punctuated with a simple piano riff, and tribal percussions, subtle under the wall of sound he creates for Asantewa. She is never one to shy from a challenge and she switches between spoken word and a chorus filled with haunting three part harmonies, weaving stories of young people struggling to find their identities in a world where societal and parental pressures bury talent and force promising young people into life trajectories they don’t want for themselves. It is a time-worn social commentary, but no less relevant today.

Collaborations like this are the next phase of African music, and it is rad to see spoken word poets first embrace the wave.

PS: It’s a nice touch that the album art is a portrait of Jake The Kid, who became an internet sensation last year because of his keen interest in writing. There is much to unpack here.

Listen to “Round Pegs” below.

Watch 5 of the finest spoken word performances by poetra asantewa