Ghana’s capital Accra is home to some of the most exciting artists in the world. Contrary to the popular school of thought that it’s “Afrobeats or nothing” within the West African nation, there are plenty more unique scenes lifting the flag for the new wave of Accra.
Contrary to the school of thought held by people without their ear to the underground within Ghana that it’s “Afrobeats or nothing”, there are plenty more unique scenes lifting the flag for the new wave of Accra.
ALL MY COUSINS is Accra’s multi-disciplinary artist collective made up of Ansah Live, the crew’s founder, DJ, and producer, alongside a network of creatives that includes Common Juls, Cozyshrt, Seyyoh, 95ANTNY, BIG LEAFLET and Narah. Together, the collective is attempting to forge the link between art, music, film, and beyond bringing their own individual skills and styles to the group. “It’s about cousins coming together to discuss, connect and create,” says Ansah.
Among the collective are award-winning photographers, filmmakers, DJs, producers and singers making their own distinct flavour of music and art. ALL MY COUSINS encourage community and curiosity, and bring forward the exciting new era of music coming directly out of Accra.
In collaboration with New Era, we documented the underground scene of Accra in the first episode of a new docu-series. The series will be running throughout the year, uncovering creative communities across the globe — exploring rising scenes, meeting the heroes behind them and providing support to continue their growth.
ALL MY COUSINS have also put together a playlist of new wave sounds from Accra and further afield in Africa, charting their current listening habits, emerging artists, and sounds that “don’t necessarily fit the mainstream”.
Check it out and read our Q&A with members from the multi-disciplinary collective below.
How did ALL MY COUSINS start, and what are the aims of the collective?
Ansah Live and Cozyshrt: ALL MY COUSINS started during a trip to Paris. Experiencing the beauty of seeing people take up space and introduce new things to the city sparked the motive to create and curate spaces that would inspire others creatively, just as we were inspired. Something that started as a couple of friends taking turns to play sets ended up becoming the forefront of the new wave of rave culture in Accra. We want to create safe spaces for the minority who do not feel like they identify with the mainstream trends in Accra. We want to be able to create conversations around what can be and make room for experimentation. We aim to create spaces for people to just discover themselves sonically and encourage togetherness.
What qualities bind the members of the collective together?
95ANTNY, Cozyshrt and Seyyoh: For ALL MY COUSINS, we believe that our weaknesses as people are what create community. We are a family at our core, and our shared love for expressing ourselves creatively through different mediums to push the narrative of the creative culture in Accra binds us together. We are also big fans of each other, and so the bond flows through that medium as well. The qualities to challenge the status quo of what music can be and our shared love for creating music, events and experiences, films and art, in general, connects us to one another. There is a lot of inquisitiveness, curiosity and the need to experiment that reflects in every Cousin. This is more than just music and DJ culture, this is a family. It’s the love of those things that form the foundation of the relationships we have with one another.
How has Accra as a city shaped the collective creatively?
95ANTNY and Cozyshrt: Accra is a space where you can be whoever you want to be before the world sets eyes on you. This is a hub for young people to take up space and use what they have at their disposal to create the best things they can ever think of. This collectively helps us create a world of things that don’t exist and watch them come to life. It is not a saturated space, so everyone is allowed to be creative and push boundaries as much as they can.
For us, Accra as a city serves as a one-stop shop for an array of experiences whether it be the party/rave nightlife, music, skateboarding culture, or fashion. There’s something for everybody! There is so much creativity oozing out of this place from every niche you can think of, and that is the drive for everyone here. The creative community in Accra embodies the freedom to be young and explore and this results in a community that is always creating something new, having dialogues, providing safe spaces, sharing resources, providing access, and pushing the narrative of the culture forward. These and more shape us creatively. It serves as a support system to help us build a better version of ourselves with the help of the community.
What is special about Accra’s underground music scene?
95ANTNY and Ansah Live: This space is bursting with unique and diverse sounds. There is a lot of experimentation here and the result of these (music /events) breathes a fresh air of sound and energy into the space. There is the advantage of having access to different sonic references and influences, both locally and from all over the world. The sound that this produces is an amalgamation of everything we have been exposed to through music, TV content outside our world, and the internet. We would describe the music as a fusion of different sounds coming out through the unique perspective of the Accra-based artist.
The underground music scene we will say is authentic and involves a lot of fusion and genre-bending. This serves as true in the sense that when information is brushed against information, the results are startling and compelling. This is a space to play, have fun and discover new music. This is also a space where you can co-exist and build relationships. It doesn’t feel lonely at all.
Can you tell us about the playlist you have curated?
Ansah Live, 95ANTNY and Cozyshrt: We are always looking for new sounds that excite us and make us feel good. A good feeling always comes with hearing a good, well-arranged song for the first time. This playlist captures ‘new wave sounds’ from Accra and Africa, sounds that don’t necessarily fit the mainstream sound palette which is often boxed into either Afrobeats or amapiano. With this playlist we are highlighting some of the unique, genre-blending artists from here in Accra and around Africa who represent a portion of our collaborators and peers. So many gems to discover.
Check out a playlist of new wave sounds from Accra and Africa curated by ALL MY COUSINS below, and click here to watch a documentary on Accra’s underground with the collective in partnership with New Era
Listen to ALL MY COUSINS’ new single ‘ACT A FOOL’ here
Written by: Tim Hopkins