“You may know what you want, but the moment you have to work with other people, you never know what’s going through their minds or how you can combine all your visions,” Lo Village frontman, Kane admits over Zoom, as we settle down to discuss the Maryland collective’s upcoming LP ‘Lost in America’. When I speak to them months ahead of the release, the Ghanaian-American sibling duo Kane and Ama are in good spirits (Tyler is unavailable on this day), riding the high off the upcoming project. Although the album had to be delayed for several reasons, there is still a sense that 2021 is a better time than ever to share it with the world.
Last year may have been tumultuous for Black people collectively, but it did offer some much needed time for reflection for the group. The forthcoming ‘Lost in America’, their third studio album is their most ambitious offering yet (I know, I’ve heard it), with an aim to adeptly cover the experiences of the Black person in America. Although they initially did not intend on discourse pertaining to the racial uprisings that coursed through the country last summer, Ama tells me: “It would have been a disservice to not cover it. I feel like when we write music, we’re always talking about the perspective of where we are right now; so to act as if everything that’s going on right now isn’t going on would make no sense.“
Before the previous year ran out, the Hip-Hop/R&B collective set out to unveil the world around the upcoming LP, first releasing the album’s promotional single “Terry Crews” in late October. The number was aptly titled to satirically criticise the widely publicised statements of actor Terry Crews who had flagrantly wound up the Black community during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests. Lo Village’s sincerity bleeds through in their writing, as they embed the song with sharp, critical observations sure enough to pique any listener’s interest. A few months after, in December, the group subsequently released another political cut, “Out the Window”, a memorable single that boldly spoke about the injustices against Black people in America with an accompanying music video that paid homage to the lives lost to state-sanctioned violence.
When I ask the collective whether they see themselves as role models to the cause, Kane responds:
“My father wasn’t around for a while when I was growing up and so I looked up to rappers to teach me the ropes and a lot of what they spoke about influenced me negatively. So with this project, I’m trying to speak directly to other black people, black males, especially those who don’t realise we are being brainwashed.
I’m trying to put you on the game. It’s like, ‘Yo, don’t fall for the trap,’ you know? Because you will spend years trying to undo the trap that you put yourself into”.
Being the oldest member of the collective, Kane typically takes on the role of the group organiser and frontman, who makes sure things are always in order – it’s been this way since their inception back in 2016. They say three is a crowd, but Lo Village make an exception to this rule. The Maryland trio comprising of Ghanaian siblings, Kane and Ama, and Trinidadian rapper Tyler do sometimes clash because of their differences in age and backgrounds, but finding the right balance between everyone’s differences has become their superpower. Speaking to the NATIVE, Ama shares,
“Just being a girl and being younger can be frustrating at times trying to get off what I want to say. Also because I am the R&B essence of the group, sometimes there might be times where the guys want to create music that’s more Hip-Hop and I’m more Soul-leaning.
But knowing that we all have good chemistry, I am able to compromise and just be like ‘okay well, we are going to figure out something for the best interest of the group.'”
It’s this efficiency in organising their affairs and their firm understanding of who they are – both individually and as a collective – that has sustained Lo Village’s drive all through the years and gained them the attention of industry heavyweights and considerable fanfare, including a spot on HBO Insecure’s Season 4 playlist and a label deal from EMPIRE. It seems as though the collective is now enjoying a moment in the limelight that has been long coming, but success rarely ever feels like you dreamed it would.
While the group is making headlines for themselves in Maryland and in America, they have at times felt amiss for their distance from their African and Caribbean roots. But that’s all about to change with the incoming release of their full-length LP ‘Lost in America’ – out this Friday. Here, they are more experimental and willing to cross the boundaries of their usual sonic approach, opting this time to work with Cameroonian producer Blvck Rose who helped the group to create their own take on Afropop. Although it’s their first foray into anything Afropop-leaning, Kane shares: “I feel like, for us, coming up in a Ghanaian household, we have things that we picked from the music. I don’t know what it is yet, but I feel as we do more and more music, we will be able to play off of that.“
To give an album a title like ‘Lost in America’ feels like a poignant metaphor considering the group’s intention to connect to their roots. The world is changing, our tastes continue to acclimate to the furore of modern times and it may very well be that the reckonings of the past year continue to universally call for Black people to re-examine their experiences and their search for self beyond the American perception. Today, one could very well argue that the Afropop scene is primed for further acclimatisation to different people and places. The sound is constantly evolving and growing beyond the perceptions of what African music typically has been known to sound like.
‘Lost in America’ certainly succeeds in finding a rhythm that works for the multicultural trio and it’s possible you couldn’t find a better set of people suited to soundtrack this relatable experience. In any case, Lo Village is here to stay, whether that’s in communities in Accra or in Maryland. Lo Village were made for this moment.
“We are so excited that we get to be here on earth at this time and we’re the catalysts to make that change. We don’t feel like Lo Village was created for no reason, we were created for this time and to be able to spread the message”.
You can pre-order ‘Lost in America’ here.
Featured image credits/Benny Harps & Will Johnson
.@tamimak_ Is a Staff Writer at The NATIVE