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A Newewst Afro-Rock sensation- “ARKA’N”

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ARKA’N is a hard rock band based in Lomé-Togo who draw their inspiration from African tradition and wisdom. Rock Arka’n, the leader of collective, started out by sampling sounds and writing songs in his room in 2010, it took him a longer time to develop his art and decide which particular cause to champion before setting out to form his first Arka’n band in 2016 with a bunch of friends.

They split up somewhere along the line. With this unique ability to play hard rock in Africa, a new collective was formed with more zeal to awaken the world with their very own rock music brewed in the African pot.

A few weeks ago, the Arka’n band thrilled audiences at the Republic Bar and Grill in Accra- Ghana with their masterpieces, leaving the patrons in awe as they enjoyed the vibrations from the guitars, keyboard, percussions and drums played by the band.

We caught up with the band after their performance and this is what they had to say:


TRB: Why metal and rock music?


ARKA’N: The question is like asking me why am I black. (Laughs). This is because rock and metal is in my heart already-it’s not something I chose. The root of rock music is Africa. The feeling of metal and rock from Africa is like a war tool from our ancestors who were warriors, and they played this kind of music in their time for morale. Just like rock music from the west, has its root in “agbadza”(music and dance of the people of the Anlo ethnic group in the Volta region of Ghana and parts of Togo).

TRB: How is your music accepted-knowing Africans are not accustomed to rock music what has the reception been like?


ARKA’N: I think by promoting the songs and shows, people see what we do and also why we do it because we don’t just play, we tell them who we are and we tell them to come back to their African roots.

A lot of people now copy western lifestyles and forget the rich culture and values we have here in Africa. So in our songs we try to highlight those values. So as we play, people listen, accept and get used to it.


TRB: Talking about people copying the west, what role is your music playing in the decolonization process and bringing people’s minds home?


ARKA’N: Every time they listen to the message they say ah! That is true because mainstream music nowadays talks about just sex and entertainment, and we are used to it. So why not rather turn to the positive music that urges us to return to our roots, we can also get used to this message.

Eventually this will bring them back. It’s true we are very lost so when they listen they will come back home.

TRB: people discredit rock music saying it is devilish, evil and fetish? To what extent is this true and how can it debunk such claims?

ARKA’N: Rock music was originally created to rebel against authority. In the past authority resided mainly in the church and some actions they took did not go down well with some folks so they channel their grievances through metal and rock music. I believe they tag it ‘devilish’ to defame it, not because it is evil in anyway.

Now when people are rebellious to governments and unfair treatments worldwide, rock seems to be the appropriate medium to send their message across. It is not fetish as people say.

TRB: What is the meaning of Arka’n?


ARKA’N: Arka’n simply means “we talk about life to the world”, not only what you see and touch but the metaphysical. We go deeper in life and in the world because it’s hidden we call it Arka’n which means something hidden in French. So we reveal what is hidden in life and human nature.


TRB: Who makes up your new team and what keeps you together?


ARKA’N: First you must understand what you are doing and why you are doing it-you must be courageous and strong. The first line up was courageous but not strong but these guys understand why they are doing this and everybody puts themselves into it and not just playing for money. We have the can do spirit and teamwork keeps us going.

TRB: In the next few years, what should we expect from Arka’n?


ARKA’N: Expect to wowed with more of our music as we push our message all over the world for every race to relate with. We also hope to promote the rich cultural heritage of Africa.


TRB: Thank you for you time


Facebook:                              ARKA’N, afrika hard metal

YouTube and Souncloud: Arka’n




The Diva, Yasmeen “The Voice” Helwani

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Yasmeen Helwani, the astounding vocalist, delighted the audience at Republic Bar and Grill to some eclectic live band music. She performed tracks off her new album titled “The Music Messenger” and covers of other tunes.

TRB: Good to have you sharing your music with us. How did you get into music?

Y.H: Thank you for having me. I was actually born into music, my father was a celebrated music producer, the late Faisal Helwani he produced many artists in his time including the legendary Fela Kuti. I was born with a great voice which my Dad started nurturing at an early stage.

I started singing at nine and composed my first song when I was 12 years old. I also recorded my first album when I was 16 years and I haven’t looked back since then.

TRB: Did you feel pressured at any point of your life to do music, being born into a music family?

Y.H: No, the pressure was rather on my father because I would say he was blessed with a daughter who has singing abilities so he had the daunting task of molding her into a great musician. On the other hand, he is challenged to be the responsible father protecting his daughter. I loved music from day one and so he helped me nurture my talent.

TRB: Who and what do you draw your inspiration from?

Y.H: There are many artists I looked up to growing up. I paid attention to their vocal abilities and how I could improve mine. I also listened to Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and usually sample from other musician’s work. I’m also influenced by diverse styles of music, some of which I showed in tonight’s performance.

TRB: How different is your new album from the previous one?

Y.H: It is really different. This is my fourth album but it is truly my first album in the sense that the albums preceding this one were my learning phase. Moreover, when I started out making music I had family members as my management.

After the third album things changed drastically in my life, losing my brother Waleed and my father as well, they were my musical backbone, at the time it would have seemed like a nightmare but it actually spiraled me into an all new state of being in music, I began to look inside myself and become a lot independent.

I mentioned during my performance that it took me a long time to come out with this album. When I first started I released an album every other year. But it was different for this album I had to go silent for a while to deal with all the craziness in my life.

During this break I got into business to establish myself since my father who was my rock was no more and it took me a while to build my business. I started earning money to support myself and produce my own album. So this ‘Music Messenger’ is my first self-produced and self-financed album and I am very proud of it because it represents my emancipation and growth in becoming an artist.

TRB: What kind of relationship did you have with Charter House?

Y.H: I had a professional relationship with Charter house around 2003/2004 when I returned home to Ghana from Canada where I was studying for a business degree. I felt to become an independent artist I needed to work on myself behind the scenes so I joined them to work on events and later on moved to handling advertising accounts.

TRB: How are you able to balance life as being a mother, wife, musician and an entrepreneur?

Y.H: (laughing) It is crazy, but it is fun at the same time because everything single thing I do I love, and that is my philosophy in life “I don’t do things I don’t love”. So it is the love that keeps me going, the love for everything around me, love for my family, the love for my job and love for my music, I keep everything in a good balance.

In terms of showbiz, I don’t perform on every stage and I am not out at events often. I don’t stay out late but once in a while I perform at shows and make sure to give my best. I love coming back to play here at Republic Bar and Grill.

TRB: Can you tell us your experience as a female bi-racial musician in Ghana?

Y.H: Bi-racial people face numerous issues-if you happen to come from different backgrounds it is difficult to identify with a particular race because you never really belong and a lot of bi-racial people suffer from that dearth of belonging. When you live abroad you are seen as African or “black” at the same time but when you return home you get tagged as “obroni” (white person) so you get stuck in between.

The thing is, as an individual you need to see beyond all that and I feel like spiritual evolution brings you to a point in your life where you begin to look beyond color and ability but rather to correct and forgive people who discriminate against you racially. For me the whole journey in life is to give people perspective. There is beauty in being different, even though it might hurt but you just need to look at the brighter side of things.

TRB: Lastly, what should the world expect from “Yasmeen The Voice” in the years to come?

Y.H: In the coming years I see myself taking Ghanaian music to the world. I intend to go on tour, release more albums, enjoy life, and making music to share with the world.

Also, I started a project last year under my late father’s record label called “Bibini Music (black music)” which is a music festival themed Mother Earth Festival at “Asaase Yaa (Mother of the earth) located at Kokrobite beach. It is create to raise awareness about environmental issues, safeguarding our environment and cultivating an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Last year we had a great edition, it is scheduled to take place again on the 26th & 27th of August 2017 and I would be headlining it this year.

Everyone is welcome to share in this great time and spread positive vibes. Blakk Rasta, Osagyefo and Shasha Marley would be performing live at the event.


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TRB: Glad to have you with us, can you tell us about your personality?

BB: My name is BB Blues, originally called Bievenue which was then truncated to “BB” as I am known by now. I was born in the former francophone colony of Cameroon where I learnt and started playing blues at age 12, I started playing and singing the blues especially traditional blues along with the Mississippi blues from my father Mr. Ziggy Laurent a famous blues player across central Africa now of blessed memory.

“Blues” came about when I started playing for a club in Douala city of Cameroon called the “Vieux Nègre” (Old Nigger) jazz club, famous at the time, when I went in search of a job at the club, the owner a British man told me since I play the blues then he might as well call me BB Blues then i took the up the name around 1984. I am an anthropologist and musicologist by profession, but I am more passionate about music.

TRB : How has music postively influenced your life, specifically the blues?

BB : Based on my study of musicology, I identify music is the background knowledge that proves there is a link within the human soul and the vibration, because we have vibration in our tone when we speak, our heartbeat on the other hand give us the tempo, so to me our heartbeating tempo and the tone we possess in our voice is the philoshy of music for me thus making music therapeutic, hence people call me a blues doctor, they believe i use my art to cure them.

TRB : Your voyage in life afforded you the opportunity of meeting and playing music with the Legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti, can you tell us about your Fela Experience?  

BB : I met Fela Kuti in 1991, when I went to study in university of Ibadan-Nigeria, i went to do a jam session at Fela’s shrine one day and said he loved my guitar playing and my way of making music, I played with Fela for 3 and half years between 1991 and 1994, studied what is called the Juju Music, the Juju Music is largely misunderstood to be fetish and evil of sorts on the contrary Juju Music is a medication, it is a type of music that we use to cure people’s problems. Juju in Yoruba language means the blend of different things, the music of Fela Kuti is Afrobeats music which was made up of classical music, jazz, blues, high-life music and Yoruba music which is largely traditional music. In near by Benin, Burkina Faso, cameroon and Niger have a different meaning to juju which means fetish. To be clear if you are listening to music that doesn’t cure your soul is not juju music.

TRB : What can be done to get the current generation into the Blues and Juju music, since our main stream music is predominantly western music ?

BB : The discrepancies i have identified travelling across the francophone and anglophone states in Africa, the french-speaking countries embrace blues alot easier than the anglophone states, which is crazy. Going on tour around the 54 countries on the African continent i realise that when i get on english platform i have the struggle of getting alot of people to know what time it is, francophone performances are alot different, right from the first track I play people readily appreciate the music and start jamming to the blues. I don’t know if it is fundamentally an effect from the colonial master’s or our failure to infuse the traditional African vibes, the blues and its elements into our educational system. For the youth to be able to get into the jazz and blues vibes I think they need to listen more to the old-school African music and stay away from temporary music, when you listen to the likes of C.K Mann, Nana Ampadu, D.K Yamoah, Papa Yankson or Pat Thomas their records of 1978 are still relevant today because they were live performance recording, I would suggest all the youth who want to make music for the future should go on live performances to record.


TRB : Lastly the awesome and distinct vibes You, Fela, Nana Ampadu put out there how can the present generations tap into it?

BB : It is just a matter of meditation, always strive to be yourself and all the youth should do well to get into live performance, this is a way by which we can preserve our music.

TRB : Thank you for the opportunity.

BB : You are welcome.


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WKK: this band came about 10 years ago when I was teaching my younger siblings, friends and close associates how to play musical instruments-precisely the wind instruments. This vision came up when I was with my former group “Wind Afrique Band” with whom I tried to compose a few songs with in the African traditional style we displayed moments ago. But unfortunately they didn’t buy into the vision so I realized I had to reinvigorate it, and that of course I needed a team so I called on some of the young people I was training. They believed in the vision I had and passion for music. Initially they were shaky but with reassurance and training for 3 years we came out with a ‘solid’ band.


WKK: WEKU KRON KRON means ‘holy family’ in the Ga dialect which is widely spoken by the people from the Greater Accra region here in Ghana. WEKU means ‘family’ and KRON KRON means ‘holy’.


WKK: Basically we are looking at feeding the world with our rich traditional music. Building on the tenets of cultural diversity, we seek to show the world an essential part of us which is the African traditional music by having people from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, such as Gas, Ewes and Fantes coming together to form this band.

There is the need to explore and showcase our culture to the world-especially to the western world. We cannot continue to copy and adopt western cultures and music and not share our indigenous African cultures with them in order to have a balance.


WKK: You could call it afro pop but I would prefer to call it ‘traditional art music’ or better still ‘African art music’ because all the music that we create is put down in the form of musical notations where if you are a music teacher who can read music, you can use the score to read and play or impart knowledge to music students.


WKK: Creativity is our inspiration, because the goal is to create a distinctive rhythm. One would realize that in the cover songs we performed tonight. Adding our own touch by switching the style to make the sound a WEKU KRON KRON classic, the band takes delight in creating new stuff but not only playing other people’s music.


WKK: Besides the keyboard, guitar, drums and trumpets we also incorporate the flute-a distinct one called “WARIGA” from the northern part of Togo. We also use an instrument similar to the horn used by the Ashantis at the Manhyia palace to announce the presence of the King. What we use is the antelope’s horn, African fiddle, xylophones and the ‘fontomfrom’ drums, which provide a unique sound.


WKK: I think the youth these days want western music but we Africans can best do what is ingrained in us; our music is one of such things. The African traditional music motivates us as band, because we cannot sit idle and enjoy music from other parts of the world while our music goes extinct. So I can say staying true to ourselves and being original motivates WEKU KRO KRON band.


WKK: The band is faced with numerous challenges which include the lack of a good management to steer the band, financial setbacks and exposure even though we have rich traditional music to give to the world. But we try to work our way through.


WKK: When it comes to Africa, music is believed to be in our blood, I would use the expression “from the cradle to the grave”. Music is part of our everyday life-a typical example is finding an African doing domestic work while singing recreational music. So I think African music is innate, it forms part of our identity.


WKK: It has definitely been discovered-our ancestors preserved it to be passed down to us. But I think we are not properly documenting it, thus it’s fading away since it’s only being transferred orally.

The emergence of western music has affected African music greatly because it is swaying the present generation away from identifying with their own music, its history, evolution and how it should be carried on which in turn would make them appreciate it more rather than neglect it. We as a band seek to go back to our roots and pick the old folk tunes that our forefathers treated us to and fuse it in our music.


WKK: We would like the world to know we are here to continue and perfect upon the awe-inspiring works by “Osibisa”. Serving the world with rich African music, we invite everyone to connect with WEKU KRONKRON, be it music promoters, producers, music enthusiasts to come on board to propagate and spread the African traditional music and vibes with the world.


WKK: Thank you.