Ghanaian singer/songwriter KNii Lante is a gifted musician whose music could be described in a diverse number of ways. But no matter the genre of music that he chooses to do, his identity as an African, both in terms of his appearance and the treatment to his rhythms, always shines through as is evident is his new single, ‘Lagos to Vienna’. The feel-good afro-pop infusion is a colourful celebration of life, and the video depicts how Africans can have fun no matter where they find themselves.
‘Lagos to Vienna’ is taken from his upcoming debut album, ‘Love and Revolution’. The 16-track album is an interesting mix of different genres of music, addressing various issues, with lyrics mainly in English and a couple of songs in Ga as well. Although KNii Lante has been in Ghanaian music industry for years, adding his vocals to several hit songs such as Michael Dwamena’s ‘Ngozi’ and Blakk Rasta’s ‘Barrack Obama’, he is yet to enjoy the same success as a solo act.
I caught up with KNii Lante to find out his journey in music, his new album and his aspirations as a musician.
Ameyaw Debrah: What kind of music do you do?
I can do any kind of music, depending on the inspiration. I sing about love, revolution, and the love of God. I am usually inspired by the feelings of love and heartbreak, and the observation of injustice faced by exploited people everywhere (especially in Africa). And of course my passion for songwriting brings it all together.
Ameyaw Debrah: Who are your musical influences?
I guess Bob Marley’s music has been the biggest influence in my musical growth. I have also been influenced by Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross and Phil Collins.
Ameyaw Debrah: When did you start singing?
I started singing during childhood days with childhood friends pretending to be playing live band music. Then in Secondary School, I started playing in the school band with friends like Desmond Hutton Mills, Wariboko West, Fashole Sawyer and others. I really started getting “over interested” in the whole music thing.
Ameyaw Debrah: When did you get your lucky break as a singer?
On the professional level, I think I am yet to get there. But in school, my break came when we needed a singer for a concert. I was then the keyboardist in the band but the singer wasn’t doing so well at rehearsals. By a stroke of luck someone suggested, during one such rehearsal, that I should try singing and when I stepped up to the microphone and did so, the roof came down. From then on I became the lead singer in the band.
Ameyaw Debrah: What have been your highlights?
As at now there haven’t been that many highlights. I used to do solo in church but now I’ve done a featured on a few popular songs including Talal Fatal’s ‘ Money can’t buy love’ , Michael Dwamena’s ‘Ngozi’ and Blakk Rasta’s ‘ Obama’. I am now promoting my upcoming first major album.
Ameyaw Debrah: What is the message behind your new single, which appears to be a party song?
Yea, in this song I am calling everybody to my party where we can forget all our differences, whether they be those of race or culture, and just have fun.
Ameyaw Debrah: You are known to do more reggae infused songs. Is this new style consistent with the new album?
Reggae has always been my favourite kind of music but it curiously most of the songs I record are not reggae. On the contrary I tend to do more mid-tempo pop and “alternative music” songs.
Ameyaw Debrah: What’s your opinion on contemporary Ghanaian/African music?
I think it is very exciting with all these good songs coming from artistes like Samini, Becca , Efya , Trigmatic , Nameless , the whole Naija squad , the South Africans etc. The music is getting better all the time and so is the African hips hop and rap artists. These days when I tune in to Channel O, I just can’t stop watching. I must say however that I miss those times when African Reggae was hot with the likes of Alpha Blondie, Ras Kimono, Majek Fashek, and Lucky Dubes really “running things”. I’m hoping it gets better for reggae and conscious music for that matter.
Ameyaw Debrah: You sing a lot in English, is that deliberate?
No, I’ve been singing mainly in English because for me it’s easier, even though I speak far more Ga than I do English in a day.
Ameyaw Debrah: What do you want to achieve with your music?
First and foremost change. To contribute to the change from the current exploitative global (economic) system that keeps Africa (and many other people) poor to one of equal opportunities, justice and love. I also want my music to bring joy and comfort to as many people who hear it.
Ameyaw Debrah: What have been the challenges to that so far?
Balancing a career in music with the many other competing interests I have.
KNii Lante’s Playlist
Top 5 songs at the moment
I got a feeling ( Black Eyed Peas ), Rude Boy ( Rihanna ), Young Forever ( Jay Z ), Try sleeping with a broken heart ( Alicia Keys ), E no Easy ( P square ), Kiss your hand (R2bees )
Top 5 all time best songs
This is so difficult because there are so many songs which could qualify as “songs I like best”. But off the cuff, the songs that I may mention would probably include – Who the cap fit ( Bob Marley ) , So amazing ( Luther Vandross), Down by the river (Morgan Heritage), 911 ( Wyclef/ Mary J. Blige ), Human Nature ( Michael Jackson )
Top 5 favourite’s artists
Again very difficult to answer but that list would surely include Wyclef and R Kelly.