He went from cooking on Instagram to owning a food truck in Atlanta and more… the story of Quabena’s Kitchen
The COVID-19 pandemic birthed many opportunities for people all over the globe. For one Ghanaian living in the US, the pandemic reconnected him with his passion which has now become a full-time job.
Quabena’s Kitchen shared with me his story about how he went from cooking for family and friends, to sharing content of his cooking on Instagram page at the height of the pandemic, which has now transformed into a thriving catering business in Atlanta, Georgia.
Quabena’s Kitchen services now include a food truck providing Ghanaian and West African delicacies to Africans and non-Africans alike, with ambitions of a restaurant on the cards!
Watch this exciting story on Ameyaw TV below:
The chef behind Fufu Pizza is about to open Afro-Fusion Cafe in Atlanta
Why Ghanaian-American Jeffrey Ampratwum is the menswear expert to watch in fashion!
At the start of the Victoria era, early 19th century – the English began to tone down the royal style dressing of the French army, namely those adorned in prestigious regalia and heavy embroidery. It was a sign of English nationalism and sparked a new wave of appearance in men. A few decades later, the suit was born and heavily influenced those in Italy and America. The British and the Americans have a rich revolutionary history, of course, and coincidentally the British colonized the African country – Gold Coast – until 1957 when they declared their independence and changed their name to Ghana.
As part of an independent Ghana, a host of individuals began to exercise new freedoms and venture out of the country into new territories. Many Ghanaians set their eyes on American travel and a wave of trail blazers left the country and settled in the infamous New York City. For most, it was an opportunity to plant new seeds in the hopes that their children would be afforded even more opportunities for a prosperous life.
One of these children of the diaspora is Bronx-born Jeffrey Ampratwum. The only child to Kate Bampoe and Eugene Asante-Ampratwum Mpere, who met in the Bronx after immigrating from Ghana. The dynamics of having African parents and being raised in a heavily eclectic environment gave rise to Jeffrey’s style and prose. More importantly, we can honestly say that there are only a handful of Ghanaian-Americans living in the states that can exhibit a special presentation that reflects both their African heritage married with the esthetic of their nationality. We recently caught up with Jeffrey to discuss how his early influences provided him with a framework to now become such a strong force in the menswear industry in fashion.
AD: Jeffrey, Ɛte sɛn?
Jeff: Haha, Eye.
AD: I had to test your Twi really quick! You know most Ghanaians who are born in the states don’t have a clue about the language unless it’s spoken fiercely in the home.
Jeff: You are 100% correct with that. Ha. But for me, I was lucky in that my mother took me to Ghana before I even knew how to use words. So, in actuality, Twi was the first language and vocabulary I learned, and in essence, English is my second language. So, I’m really decent when it comes to using Twi. I’m a cheat code! But keep that quiet. Ha.
AD: How much of the remnants of the Ghanaian culture factored into your approach to your style and presentation?
Jeff: When I was younger and in school, particularly in the Bronx – it wasn’t always your proudest moment to be from Africa or to say your family was African. Part of the silly embarrassment was perhaps from the narratives that were spinning on television. Americans were being indoctrinated with visuals of “feed the children” which only highlighted the extreme poverty in a few Africans countries. The images and broadcasts were all the same, for decades. So called philanthropist and humanitarians took camera crews into ravaged areas and televised starving children for us to see here in the states. I believe that had a profound effect on young boys and girls born from African parents.
However, as for me – I always looked at being dark skinned and being deeply rooted into my African culture as a super power. I liked the idea of being different, even though all the kids in all my classes were also children of immigrants. They just couldn’t grasp the concept of it at that time. So, from there, it was showtime. My Uncle, Joseph Ken Mintah – was the pioneer as the first in the family to travel to the states – he had extreme style. My mother also is very detailed with her sense of jewelry and fragrances. I adsorbed it all.
AD: Did you start dressing in traditional African attire? What do you mean exactly?
Jeff: Not exactly! But, being an only child really allowed for me to sit deep in thought for long periods of time. Being left-handed allowed for me to be extremely dexterous and detailed. And being raised solely by my mother further allowed me to pay attention to the importance of clothing and accessories – as she dressed herself each morning. It was the ultimate cocktail and I was already drunk with creativity. I started customizing all the clothes I had. By no means were we wealthy, so I had to manage just a few outfits for school.
My styling began when I would turn 5 outfits into 15 – so essentially, a 5-day school week became New York Fashion Week for me. I would airbrush my sneakers, turn Old Navy sweaters inside out for a fleece appeal, and cuff my jeans in 4 different ways depending on my footwear. This soon became a bad habit and made me late for school many mornings.
AD: You see, if you are late to school in Ghana back then – you might as well have sat by the road to hide from both your mother and headmaster! What was college like for you then?
Jeff: Right! Ha. It grew legs during my undergrad. Now all the pretty girls were around, I had more freedom to come and go, and more importantly – I had a stage to showcase my style. I joined a student club in the SEEK Program, and soon became the President and started hosting a string of events based around fashion. 4 years and a bachelors degree later, there were 6 fashion shows and 3 beauty pageants under my belt. Huge successes. I started to doubt my real educational reason for attending college, which was to become a dentist. Fashion was dancing on one shoulder and dentistry on the other. But somehow, I figured out how to still involve the two. My best buddy, Kenny – whom I met at the college on the road to become dentists – made it through. So, I live vicariously through him. And now, coincidentally – together we’ve developed a brand – a service of bespoke mens luxury shoes and women’s handbags, and ready to wear womenswear shoes as well. Named, Kenjeffreys. It is serendipitous because all of the products are sourced and handcrafted in Haiti and infused with Ghanaian culture. As Kenny is from Haiti, we properly employ artisans within the community and focus heavily on our social impact.
Following undergrad, I then began at FIT as student, really just trying to test my styling hand – and to learn more about the industry. While there, I came across extremely talented and knowledgeable fashion professionals that have really guided me. Namely, Sadia Seymour and Joseph DeAcetis. Both wildly experienced, patient and embedded with a wealth of information. Respectfully in womenswear and menswear. You cannot beat that, and I am grateful for it.
AD: That is strangely unique and admirable. Talk to us about how all those experiences and inspirations give rise to the Jeffrey or Che we see today and ultimately, where that places you in your field of fashion and menswear.
Jeff: Sure. Great point. I have been indoctrinated by the basic principles of creativity as an adolescent – with respect to clothing. That is extremely hard to shake. Innately, styling was my ultimate form of communication, seeing that I was a shy introvert. So now, I still revert back to those same feelings…. the feeling of home, warmth, memories, great food and innocent fun. My approach now is exactly the same in the sense that when I am dressing, styling or designing for someone – I am taking into account their entire repertoire and holding a mirror in front of them which reflects the items that they love most. It is a skill that perhaps only empaths are only able to exhibit.
Having the ability to read into thoughts and connecting with the motivating spirits that drives people – is a gift. I ran the New York City marathon three times, and the 2nd time I ran it in a tuxedo! It was my ultimate homage and pledging of allegiance to fashion. Ha.
I also believe my extensive traveling experience has aided to the arsenal. Recent trips to Ghana always resets a creative instinct with me, as I look around and arrive back to a place of self-awareness. It feels right. My cousin Harry knows where to be to capture the real essence of the land. And, coincidentally enough, I am often back and forth to the UK as well. Savile row in London, England -as you know – is a menswear connoisseur’s Disney Land. It is the traditional hub for the world’s best tailored-bespoke suits. Naples and Florence are a close second. However, sartorially, the British have etched their names in the fine-art making of the suit. I do though spend most of my time in Brighton, UK. It’s where my love is and also like a second home for me. The culture there is infused with various styles and the community is inviting. The Duchess of Brighton-Hove, Lady Donna and her amazing friends will assure that you have a great time!
AB: Finally, talk to us about your styling approach with respect to specific talent that you work with.
Jeff: Definitely. This is perhaps an area you cannot teach. It is learned with years of experience and even reading the room wrong most times. I tell my fashion students often that they have to continue shooting airballs at the basket. Get out the miss shots, now – and properly learn your subjects. For example, if I am styling a celebrity for the red carpet – several nuances are to be considered before arriving at a dress or a tuxedo. Such as, what stages in life is your talent currently in, how body conscious are they and what are they most nostalgic about. These (and some of my other secrets that I cannot give away) are the pillars to nailing great style, image and presentation.
Baaba Lin chats about her new single ‘Famame’, going solo and RnM amid more juicy bits
US-based vocal sensation from years prior, Stephanie Baaba Lindsay recently made her official mark as one of the new and exciting voices to ignite the Ghanaian music scene under her new alias Baaba Lin and we couldn’t help but reach out for a session with her to play catch up on today’s episode of Ameyaw Meets.
The new song ‘Famame’ slots in an Afrobeat release which immerses listeners into the joys of one deeply in love, and tops it all off as the kind of dashing debut one would expect from a familiar face like Baaba Lin’s. All in all, it’s a smooth song effortless in reminding fans what they have been missing out on; the rebranded star’s radiant vocals!
But before all this new buzz, Baaba Lin was already a star. She was a part of the female group, RnM together with Denise, January and Tasha – the underdogs who went on to win the first ever Vodafone Icons “Divas Edition” back in 2011. The group also earned relevant nominations for “Best Group” at the 4syte TV Music Video Awards (2012) and Ghana Music Awards (2013) which made it the resounding success story of its time.
Today, the same legend lives on and Baaba Lin seeks to be the industry’s next underdog, and we get to ask her about her new debut ‘Famame’, going solo and what lies ahead for her this year amid more juicy bits.
Dive into the interview below and share your reviews with us after listening to ‘Famame’ here: https://linktr.ee/baabalinofficial
1. Hello Baaba Lin. Kindly, introduce yourself and brand of music.
Hello, I am Baaba Lin and my brand of music is Afrobeat & Afro-fusion.
2. And out of nowhere you’re out with a dashing new single ‘Famame’ to kickstart your solo career. Tell us everything there is to know about it.
Lol, it wasn’t out of nowhere. I took a hiatus from music after I had my son and just wanted to focus on him during his formative years, but I never left music. I was always writing and recording and waiting for the right time to return as a solo act.
3. How many years has this move to go solo been in the making?
I would say about 5 years, because I had always thought our group was going to get back together at some point, because we were great together, but I also realized that distance as well as our individual lives evolving will make that difficult. So, I started thinking of the solo route.
4. RnM was a big deal in its day, as some will remember. Mind giving fans closure on why you feel it disbanded after so many years? You all still talk?
Awwwwww, first of all, I would like to say, I love and appreciate our fans. I’m sure we all do as a group and I want to thank them for their continued love and support after all these years. It’s remarkable and I hope they will continue to support us individually. RnM disbanded like I said earlier, due to distance and our individual lives evolving. I was in the States, Tasha was in and out of Ghana and January was in and out of Ghana as well, so it was quite difficult scheduling around each other and thus we had to move on but with love and yes, we all still talk to this day and support each other. I love them so much.
5. Between then and now there’s been lots of lost years. What was going on all this while behind the scenes?
Well, I was being a mom, recording, writing, working and performing at small local events, you know, just lowkey.
6. The Ghanaian music scene may seem so familiar to you, yet so different to the likes of us and with streaming being a game changer, next to plenty new faces. How do you think you’d fit in?
The Ghanaian music scene has definitely advanced tremendously since our time because streaming platforms and social media wasn’t as big and prominent as it is now and there’s so many amazing artists out as well which is remarkable and I love that for us because it makes us as artist want to work harder and be better with our craft. So, I believe I will absolutely fit in just fine because it motivates me to hone in on my craft and keep bringing my audience and Ghanaians great music.
7. Before you go, what’s the remainder of 2022 looking like for you? More releases, features, an EP?
2022 is not yet over so expect more releases. I’m working on my EP but I don’t know if I want it out this year or next year either way, I will keep everyone posted and they can keep up with me on all my socials – Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, but it’s coming. And God willing a video as well. Fingers crossed.
Sofie details blissful new single ‘BLUR’, musical journey, process and more
One of the exciting artists to adorn West Africa’s music scene, Sofie is steadily winning Ghanaian fans over with her music. And who could resist her welcoming voice?!
As a guest on Ameyaw Meets today, I take a dive into the Ghanaian’s culturally diverse background and upbringing, her musical journey, process and of course, her new single ‘BLUR’ which is out now on Apple Music & iTunes, Spotify, Deezer and the likes. You can give it a listen here: https://songwhip.com/sofie4/blur
If this is your first encounter of the Sofie, I must elaborate the singer isn’t entirely new to Ghanaian soil and audiences. She was right here in the motherland to perform at the Chalewote Festival in the Summer of 2017. But there’s more, Sofie also performed at “The African Diaspora Homecoming Conference Gala Night” to celebrate Ghana’s 60th Independence Day anniversary that same year. The same is true for other shows, both in Ghana and abroad over the years of her musical journey.
Above these highlights, Sofie is a recent alumna of the Berklee College of Music – a feat she holds next to two extended plays’; “Sofie” and “Light Waves”, next to a string of singles which are as irresistible as her latest ‘BLUR’.
Back to ‘BLUR’, Sofie explores a budding romance in its honeymoon phase and wants to use songs like these to raise spotlight the things that make life worthwhile, lighting a positive spark in listeners.
Enjoy my chat with her below.
Q: Hello Sofie. How about we start with what there is to know about you?
Hi there! I am a Ghanaian singer-songwriter and producer raised between Ghana and the UK. I would describe myself as a person with good vibrations, passion and a wavy essence. I started singing from around 5 years old and from there began to pursue songwriting and learning the guitar. I am inspired by multiple different genres of music and listen to artists like Justin Bieber, Kehlani and Burna Boy. Apart from music, I enjoy other art forms such as poetry, photography and film. I want to use my platform to spread light, love and a positive message.
Q: Before we get into more about your craft, ‘BLUR’ – your latest single is out now. What’s the catch?
My song ‘BLUR’ was written in 2020 in the pandemic over Zoom with my friend Ben. I asked my friend Carter to produce the track and he agreed so we started working on it virtually; it all happened very organically. We got some Bass and Djembe parts from my friends Paul & NiiQuaye and in the outro are some of my friends in a voice memo. ‘BLUR’ explores the experience of a budding young romance. It’s a smooth, happy and rhythmic R&B – Afro-Pop song that expresses the electrifying feelings of a new relationship in the honeymoon phase. This song is for people who are trying to chill, have fun and go on adventures. When people listen to this song, I imagine them driving, windows rolled down and enjoying the summer breeze. I imagine playing in the background at beach hangouts and in cute coffee shops. Waves.
Q: How long has music been your go to? Also, kindly gist us on your musical debut and the journey so far.
Since I was a very young child. My mother says I sang before I could talk! Music has been a very important part of my life and at the forefront of my creativity. I feel like it is part of my identity. I was in school choirs from a very young age and participated in plays and musicals with the lead roles. I loved performing and still do. Being on stage is definitely one of my favourite things about my craft. I also wrote a lot of poetry and rap lyrics when was younger just for fun. Later on, I picked up guitar and a little piano. Composing music has always been a creative expression and release for me. I never want to lose the real reason why I create; It makes me happy. I began releasing original songs in 2016. Songwriting comes organically to me and my first single ‘Touch My Soul’ is a reflection of my storytelling. Although it’s about 5-6 years old it’s one of the best songs I’ve ever written. Since writing that song my musical journey has been about making people feel inspired to follow their passions and simply have a good time.
Q: Ghana, Germany, the UK and USA are all countries you’ve made your home. In what ways do you think all this rich exposure has shaped your musical journey?
I feel blessed and extremely grateful to be have grown up a part of so many cultures and continue experiencing them all on a deep level. Having relatives all over the world has given me the opportunity to grow my perspective on the world and how I perceive sound. I have met musicians from all over and this exposure has helped me find my truth. I can explore multiple genres and try different sounds. I have learned that my career is a journey and the more you collaborate the more you open yourself up to opportunities that can only work in your favour. I know that there are no limits to me and the only limitations I have are the ones I put on myself.
Q: With a degree from such a premier institution, mind sharing your musical process with us?
My musical process is different every time. Some days it’s me and my guitar finding some chords I love. I start improvising melodies and the song develops that way. Other times I make a beat and start building the song by writing lyrics and melodies as I go along. There are times when someone might send me a beat and I’ll topline that and send it back to them. I also really enjoy collaboration so that’s something I’m looking to do a lot more of in the future. I enjoy working with other writers, producers and it’s so special when you can be in the same room.
Q: What inspires you to make the kind of music you do?
I like to write about love, pain, joy, nostalgia. Anything and everything inspire me; being in nature, going on the subway or on a beautiful date. I mostly pull inspiration from things I experience day to day. Some songs I write promote social change such as ‘Broken World’ from my sophomore EP ‘’Light Waves’’. It’s important for me to use my platform however big or small to help people and also raise awareness about the things that matter in the world.
Q: My readers might be curious. Do you normally have Ghanaian songs on rotation? If yes, any favorites?
Yes, I definitely do! My favourite’s right now are CHOPLIFE (King Promise, Patoranking), Falling (Smallgod, KiDi, Darkoo). Artists I love are Kwesi Arthur, Sister Deborah, Amaarae, SuperJazzClub, Ria Boss, BryanTheMensah, Moliy, $pacely and many more.
Q: Before I let you go, are there any collaborations with Ghanaian artists on the cards?
For sure! There are so many Ghanaian artists I want to collaborate with. I’m not going to give too much away but keep your eyes peeled later this year.
Cover art by Lavern Clerk: @naaclerk
Graphic design by Lena Morton: @lenaxmorton
Written by Sofie and Author
Produced and mixed by Carter Pankow
Bass guitar by Paul “Papabear” Johnson
Djembe by NiiQuaye
Background vocal arrangement by Gayathri Krishnan and Sofie
Mastered by Alexander Wright
EXCLUSIVE: discussing the best BAR mixtape yet, highs, lows and the future of the franchise with E.L
Unadulterated Hip-Hop has been at the heart of Ghana’s – we dare to say – longest serving music franchise to hit mainstream and after 6 iterations in, it’s time we ask the questions you always wanted to ask.
If you are privileged like us, you get to call and interview some of Ghana’s biggest stars week-in week-out just to simply boss them about with a plethora of questions, mostly about their releases and call it a day. Fun right? We know.
Well, this week we got to strike the Best African Rapper, E.L off our bucket list with lots of questions. But above all, our most awkward yet, “BAR BAR on the phone, who (BAR mixtape) is the BARriest of them all” stole the show and sparked a very in-depth discussion with the artist.
Now, of course we didn’t ask that. Unfortunately for you we didn’t intend to come off as corny, though we did ask E.L about his big six BAR mixtapes and what he feels about them in retrospect. Hell, we even got him to tell us his personal favorite – OK, we were quite close – amid other bits of juicy information which you’d never see anywhere. All from the horses own mouth too, so you best believe it.
Enjoy the most revealing aspects of our conversation.
Q: Hello E.L. What’s good? Thanks for making time for us to to grill you this hot afternoon. It’s all about your BAR Mixtapes today and we hope you’re ready?
Good vibes. Yes sir, let’s do it.
Q: You’ve put a lot of love into your BAR franchise – I and everyone can tell. And after 6 iterations in we can’t help but ask, why is it so special to you?
It’s just a type of journaling exercise for me. Each BAR tape represents a place where I was at that point in time and speaks about my mind-state. So, to me it’s a resource that I feel I can look back at and reflect on what I was feeling at that point in time, it’s good for retrospection.
Q: Personally, BAR II is my favorite pick and one I keep going back to till this day – such a terrific mixtape. Which iteration is your favorite of the 6 and why?
My latest offering is always my favorite. It’s a reflection of who I am today, I’d like to think with time and effort comes improvement. New and improved BAR will always be my favorite!
Q: What songs off BAR 6 would you say are your personal favorites? Mind ranking them?
It keeps changing. I love ‘Frodo Baggins’ because of the rhyme simplicity and the bounce, I love ‘Dracula’ because it’s grungy… and an aggressive sound. I love ‘This Country’ too because of its sincerity. Depends on the day and my mood. One of my deepest challenges is putting my creations into rank and file.
Q: What BAR mixtape could’ve been better in retrospect?
They’re all perfect pieces of art. Wouldn’t change a thing.
Q: Your Top 3 BAR intros?
BAR 3 INTRO
BAR 4 INTRO
BAR 6 INTRO
Q: Beef and Hip-Hop culture go hand in hand. Have we unknowingly got a taste of it in any of the BAR mixtapes out there? Mind sharing the song?
No. Not to my knowledge. I am aware of the negative and positive effects of beef in the industry. I just choose to mind my business.
Q: We know every project runs on a tight budget – shoutouts to you for keeping the production fresh and feature list even fresher. But any chance other rap artists across Africa feature on the next BAR project, should there be one?
Possible. But that depends on how I feel and the responses I get. Maybe I’ll work more on my relationships.
Q: Which African rappers inspired you to don your gauntlets and go on this Best African Rapper rampage?
I have great respect for legends like Reggie Rockstone, Hammer, Obrafour and a lot more, but no one. My incentive to begin the series came from the need to prove that I was still a rap n*gga at heart and didn’t sell out to other genres just stay go commercial.
Q: There’s a variety of new rappers in Ghana today. This is not an endorsement. But which one of them gets a nod from the BAR himself?
I like Kev the Topic, Maurice Omario, to name a few.
Q: The franchise went cold after BVR dropped in 2018 – many of us, myself included – thought you had put it to rest. What happened?
Nothing really. I just had to go get my mind right.
Q: 2020 was the year of ‘’Leaks’’ and I don’t know about fans, but there were talks among my friends if it was the spiritual successor to the BAR franchise. Is it?
It almost was. ‘’Leaks’’ was a means to release more music, more constantly. Might go back to it. But then again, it all depends how I feel.
Q: 2022 is one quarter down already and still no single yet. We know you’re pushing some serious P’s in the studio. What’s up?
I’ve got one ready to go in April! Then much more afterwards. Watch out.
Q: Great things – like this conversation – do come to an end. But it must be asked, how many more BAR mixtapes do you have in you? What’s the future of the franchise?
I’m going for 16 tapes. Hope I don’t burn out.
There you have it. All there is to know about the rapper’s dedication to Ghanaian Hip-Hop served to you on a silver platter. And with no end in sight, why not revisit it all this weekend (seriously, you should) before his new drop hits the streets?
#theBestBAR let’s know your favorite of the six!
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