*In this era of mass produced, watered down, for the club, or ringtone musicians, a real artist who dedicates himself to the craft – and not the bottom line – is a rare find.
Now residing in Toronto Canada, the Ghanaian singer/songwriter Kwaku Darko-Mensah, also known by the stage name Kae Sun, is one of the latter. The MC is part of growing movement that has been brewing in Canada for a long time.
Emcee’s such as K’Naan, Shad, Kardinal Official, and K-OS have been delivering socially conscious, quality music appreciated by true hip hop heads in North America and overseas.
Most of the light from this movement has been absorbed by the most famous and probably the least talented of all of these: Drake. That hasn’t clouded the vision of Sun, who got a chance to speak with EURweb’s Lee Bailey about his style, creative process, and his new album and single.
Kae Sun’s music could be classified in the realm of soul/folk genres. It is definitely an eclectic collage of various flavors. One thing it cannot be called is stale. When asked about how he would label his music, the musician responded:
“I don’t call it anything in particular. If I do I don’t hold on to it because my music is changing because it’s a natural thing for music to change. I think where the folk comparison comes in is because my music deals with community, individual stories … I’m singing, but I’m more from the tradition of people singing to their community. I also come from the tradition of my homeland were songs are written to pass down tradition, to elevate, inspire, and educate people.”
The artist admitted as a teenager he grew up in Ghana listening to hip hop. Some of his biggest influences were Tupac, Dead Prez, and Nas. He considers their music no different from folk music. The poet explains:
“They did similar things as folk singers. Speaking to their own communities, but they were rappers so they were considered Emcees. To me it was like the folk tradition. I think it comes from the fact that I play guitar and I write the kinds of songs that deal with empowering and informing the community. So, I embraced it from that definition.”
Kae Sun’s most current project, Lion on a Leash, includes the single “On The Lookout.” The video (scroll down to watch) features people jumping on a floor piano (reminiscent of the Tom Hanks movie “Big”), and reading glasses with celebrity eyes pasted on the lenses. The musician talked about how the concept evolved:
“The director was listening to the song. It took him awhile to figure out a concept that worked. There was a couple of lines in the second verse of the song. It was a line about ‘people being anonymous and trying to wear a mask.’ We cut out eyes of people that are actually celebrities. We have people like Mos Def, George Bush, Tiger Woods. Viewers won’t be able to tell who’s who by looking at the video. The people look really creepy. The video was a lot of fun.”
The album is available on most digital outlets. However, physical copies are only available in Canada and he is currently performing in Canada and Europe.
Kae Sun is definitely bringing in a much needed new light to the music industry. Whether or not people are willing to bask in the Sun is yet to be seen.
One thing is certain … if his music doesn’t become the next big thing it’s not due to a lack of talent or vision. Especially with those creepy glasses.
For more information you can check him out at http://www.kaesunmusic.com/
Watch Kae Sun’s “On the Lookout” video: