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Emmanuel Adetomide – full of passion, style and swag!

Emmanuel Adetomide alias Ade Swaggerist, is an ambitious and driven UK-based Nigerian carting a path for himself as an independent model, event promoter and musician.  Born in Lagos to parents from Ondo State, he moved to the United Kingdom at a young age of 13 and by age 15, he started his affair with the […]

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Emmanuel Adetomide alias Ade Swaggerist, is an ambitious and driven UK-based Nigerian carting a path for himself as an independent model, event promoter and musician.  Born in Lagos to parents from Ondo State, he moved to the United Kingdom at a young age of 13 and by age 15, he started his affair with the world of fashion and modeling.

According to the South- East London man of many hats, he got into modeling because of his love for clothes.  “I love wearing new clothes and love taking pictures with them”, he comments. His sense of style is very urban and contemporary but isn’t too afraid to experiment with other styles as is evident in a project he is working on, called Street Executive. As the name suggests, it’s an attempt to add some executive look to swag of the streets.

I had a chat with Emmanuel to find out more him and his plans for his music and modeling.

Ameyaw Debrah: What type of modeling do you do?
I do all kind of modeling as long as it’s creative. I am also looking forward to explore ‘Street Executive’, something new I’m trying to work on.

Ameyaw Debrah:  What are some of the major jobs that you’ve done?
I have worked with various photographers and magazines, but the major one would be the project I am working on now, Street Executive.

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Ameyaw Debrah:  Have you ever done any jobs in your home country, Nigeria?
I haven’t visited Nigeria since I moved to the UK but I am waiting for the right time. I think
the Nigerian fashion and modeling industry is going real crazy right about now in Nigeria. It’s going wild.
I believe there are great opportunities in there for so many young talents.

Ameyaw Debrah: Does modeling pay well?
At the moment it’s not the best pay for beginners but the well known ones are making their money big time in the industry.

Ameyaw Debrah: What’s your worst experience as a model?
My worst experience was when one of my photographers’ cameras broke while doing shots.
Ameyaw Debrah: People have bad perceptions about models. What do you have to say to that?
Well every one can’t be a fashion designer, engineer, farmer or pastor; someone has to wear the clothes to show people the quality and creativity of it. And if people do have a bad perception about models, they should all stop wearing clothes.

Ameyaw Debrah: What have been your highlights so far?

My highlight so far was when I won Mr. Nigeria/UK 2008. Also, when I was performing a track on the stage, I was wearing the best underground clothes… Hadi 2 Clothing and Coldkey Clothings… Big up

Ameyaw Debrah: What else do you do aside modeling?
I do so many things apart from modeling but the top 3 is music, event promoting (swaggerist-ent.com) and education. I do hip hop, good music, afro hip hop. My musical influences are from the likes of Common, Mos Def, Papoose, Fela Kuti, Arona Ishiola, Sound Sultan and the late Dagrin.

Ameyaw Debrah: What inspires your music?
I compose my music on freestyle, anything going on around me, fashion, my struggle and hustle. It’s another way to communicate with the world. I want to be heard out and that’s what inspires me. Music has always been part of my life, my mum sings, my brother sings- it’s in the blood. My role models are , my dad (May his soul rest in peace) and also my immediate older brother.

Ameyaw Debrah:  Music or modeling which do you see doing as a full career?
Both, they are like twins.  I love both.

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Ameyaw Debrah:  Do you have any singles out?
I have loads of songs; a couple of them are already on YouTube.  But I am trying to shoot a video before I actually come out with a single, Hot like fire. The world should expect the best of the best. Where am from, we rather do the best or we don’t do it at all.

Ameyaw Debrah:  Who are your top 5 African artists at the moment?
Dagrin, Jhybo, Olamide, M.I, and Seriki

Ameyaw Debrah: What are your top 5 African songs at the moment?

Olamide – ‘Eni Duro’, Jybo – ‘9ja’, Ice Prince – ‘Oleku’,  Bibz- ‘Boju Boju’ (coming soon), and ‘Swagga Mi Ti Poju’ by me, Ade Swaggerist.

Ameyaw Debrah: What have been some of the challenges for you?
My biggest challenge is being the best in my generation

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Ameyaw Debrah: What’s the fiercest or wildest photo shoot or job you ever did?
I did couple of nude pictures. Not scared to do it again

Ameyaw Debrah: What is your training regiment like?
Well I hardly work out these days. I can afford not to work out because I have a very slim body type. I party a lot o stay in shape. (Laughs out loud)

Favourite Designers
Gucci, Barley, Hadi 2, Cold Keyz,  Gabriel Love and Adidas

Favourite accessory

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Shoes and I love gold

Favourite colour of cloths
My favourite colour is white but I do like colours that makes sense
Favorite perfume
Terre d’Hermes
Favourite photographer
DJ photos and PJI photos
Favourite African food
Pounded yam and vegetable soup

Ameyaw Meets

Oprah Winfrey & Blitz Bazawule answer my questions about ‘The Color Purple’

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Oprah Winfrey & Blitz Bazawule answer my questions about ‘The Color Purple’

In April, I had the opportunity to join a Zoom Q&A session with Oprah Winfrey and Blitz Bazawule, courtesy FilmOne Distribution. The conversation was around the bold remake of ‘The Color Purple’ scheduled for release this Christmas!   (more…)

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Asari Music highlights new single ‘Like Dat’, balancing college with music and more

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Asari Music

Week-in week-out I get to interview one of the many faces in showbiz and this week on Ameyaw Meets, Asari Music is the one. She’s a young, upcoming and very talented Ghanaian-American singer – who in case you haven’t heard, is out with the hottest song you might hear all week. (more…)

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Ameyaw Meets

I single-handedly popularized Shea Butter in the United States – Margaret Andega

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According to Margaret Andega, a Kenyan entrepreneur in Atlanta, she was the driving force behind the commercialization of Shea Butter in the US during the late 90s. (more…)

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He went from cooking on Instagram to owning a food truck in Atlanta and more… the story of Quabena’s Kitchen

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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:

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Read Also: The chef behind Fufu Pizza is about to open Afro-Fusion Cafe in Atlanta

 

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The chef behind Fufu Pizza is about to open Afro-Fusion Cafe in Atlanta

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US-based Liberian professional chef, Chauncy Yarngo caught the attention of the world with his amazing creations such as fufu pizza, fufu taco, plantain burgers and more. (more…)

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Ameyaw Meets

Why Ghanaian-American Jeffrey Ampratwum is the menswear expert to watch in fashion!

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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.

 

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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 Jeffreys 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?

 

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Jeff: Haha, Eye.

 

AD: I had to test your Twi really quick! You know most Ghanaians who are born in the states dont have a clue about the language unless its spoken fiercely in the home.

 

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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, Im really decent when it comes to using Twi. Im 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?

 

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Jeff: When I was younger and in school, particularly in the Bronx – it wasnt 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 couldnt 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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 connoisseurs 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. Its 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.

 

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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.

 

If I am shooting for a magazine in a studio – its party time. If you are not dancing as a model or grooving as a photographer, you are are in the wrong business, per say! Haha. With me, you are very liable to hear everyone from Bob Marley, James Brown, MJ, and Jay-Z to Queen, Lady Gaga, Biggie, Nas and Beyonce all on the same playlist. I say that to say: I enjoy what I do in fashion, and I will always represent the joys of that. I believe that is what makes me an enigma in this industry. Always professional however, but make it subjective and inject areas of your creativity wherever you can. Particularly in menswear – I keep a very intimate and close pulse on traditional, casual and street styles of these sub genres – and study them gravely like the science they are. That all still comes from sitting deep in thought as I did
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