When I reached out to rapper Kula to propose an interview date, he was quick to accept. ‘I’m Ready’ was his immediate response. “Ok, I’ll get back at you in 20 minutes’, I said. With the ground work set, it was time to consider the line of questions to ask.
Kula has been on the road for a while now, touring across selected regions to promote his mixtape-The Best of Kula. The tour is also his way of getting close to his fans while making earning new ones. The whole experience has been worthwhile for the rapper whose latest single ‘Don’t Do It’, an observatory hip hop song on the facade of social media: “People are willing to help. You just need to make the effort’, he expressed this as among the highlights of his tour.
Kula has been in the rap game for a years, but, it wasn’t until two years ago that many took notice of him. It was on the ‘Joy FM Old School Reunion’ stage that Kula announced himself, breathing life into the ‘make the best of every opportunity’ mantra: ‘Even though I wasn’t allowed to perform my own song, I put all the energy in that freestyle session’.
In this interview, Kula throws light on his recent tours across some regions, the state of the music scene and what upcoming artistes like himself could do to cause a change: ‘I feel artistes on the come up need to be paid for performances. No matter how small’, his musical mentors ‘, his beginnings as a rapper: ‘I used to rap for seniors just to escape punishment. To them, it was entertainment, to me, it was training’, his future plans and his music making process: ‘I criticize my work a lot at the writing stage’.
Here is the full interview of my conversation with Kula
How has the tour been so far?
Been great and interesting. I’ve done Takoradi, Ho and of course Accra. Over 500 CDs sold so far. The next stop should be Koforidua, soon.
You’ve been around a few regions, how many more to go? Do you intend doing all the regions?
I wish I could but I doubt I can. Cost of transportation is putting pressure on the income (a CD costs GHc 5). If I spend GHc 200 on the trip, I’ll have to sell 40 CDs in order to break even. Business-wise, it’s not healthy for me
It’s not easy doing it on your own.
Yeah bro. Never easy
Issue of finance is a challenge for upcoming artistes. How do you survive when it comes to paying for studio, recording?
Sometimes, friends sponsor my sessions, but most of the time, I pay for studio sessions myself. Not enough paying shows around so you can imagine how tough it is for a young talent like me. It’s because of this that I’m selling my CDs. To raise funds to shoot music videos for “PROBLEMS (featuring Edem & Epixode) and also “Don’t Blow It” with Klem
Obviously, it doesn’t pay to be an artiste on the come up, right?
Obviously. Even when people request for free shows from you, they still feel like they’re doing you a favor.
You know. Man’s gotta eat. Hajia no dey accept exposure for waakye.
What do you think needs to be done to help artistes like yourself? And as artiste, what are folks like you doing to change the situation?
I feel artistes on the come up need to be paid for performances; no matter how small. Also, the habit of BUYING MUSIC should be in vogue in Ghana. That will make artistes get enough revenue to keep putting out great work. This CD sales is just a start. Artistes should be able to build loyal fan base, organize their own shows, and market themselves well enough to be worth every pesewa the fans have to spend.
This need to build fan base I’m sure is what is motivating your tours. Are there other reasons as well?
Yes. The need to build a loyal fan base is a contributing factor. Also, the need to raise funds for music videos. As an independent artiste, I have to find various means of raking in cash to fund my movements and projects. Another reason is the need to make people understand that this is SHOWBIZ. Enough of the “Chale you be dope” and all fire emojis over social media. The real market is out there. Hit the streets. Give them a reason to pay for your music. Give them a reason to spend on you.
There are challenges of course. So, what keeps you going? What are the reasons for making music?
PASSION. Everyone who knows me know I’m very passionate about music. I’m also very persistent and perseverant as far as music is concerned. I love making music and I doubt if these challenges can stop me from pursuing my dreams.
Yeah. I remember that night. Awesome. Even though I wasn’t allowed to perform my own song, I put all the energy in that freestyle session. Dr. Pounds (a DJ with Accra based Hitz FM and very good guardian) helped push me there. I wanted to perform my own song but I was told there’s no slot for me. Only slot was inter-schools freestyle competition and I had to battle it out with another act prepping his school. I took the offer (with heavy heart) but I made sure I put my best in that performance.
You made an impression no doubt. I really remember that session and the crowd reaction. How and when did you get into music? Was there someone who inspired you to pick up the mic?
Obrafour, Okyeame Kwame (OK), Eminem, Nas, Trigmatic, Lil Shaker, Edem. These guys inspired me at different stages of my life. I used to listen to a lot of Nas, Eminem, Obrafour and OK when I was in Junior Secondary School. When I got to Senior Secondary School (SSS), I used to rap for my seniors just to escape punishment. To them, it was entertainment, to me, it was training. After SSS, I learned how to produce and self-produced my first two mixtapes in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Then I started picking inspiration from Trigmatic, Shaker and Edem. Five mixtapes and dozens of singles later, here I am.
What was it about, Trigmatic, Shaker and Edem that inspired you?
Trig: from “My Joley”, “It Coulda Been You”, He was versatile-singing and rapping excellently. I wanted to do that.
Shaker: He was my favorite during the Skillions days. He’s the reason I downloaded the New Generation Mixtape and his Happy Birthday Mixtape. Wit and humor was something I wanted to emulate.
Edem: He defied all odds and broke through with a language that most didn’t understand. He proved that music was beyond language. That was worth emulating.
How will you measure your growth as an artist since you began till now?
I would say I’m in “THE BIGGEST ROOM IN THE WORLD”: The room for improvement. Every new song I put out is an improvement of the last one. I would say, I have really improved. My 2009 self would be proud of how far I have come. More growth ahead. Much more to learn.
Your music has carried some social themes. Your recent single ‘Don’t Blow It’ is an example. Why are such themes of importance to you?
I believe the mic is very powerful and everyone who has access to it has the responsibility to EDUCATE, alongside the usual entertainment. Just like my mentors, Obrafour & Nas tackled social issues with precision. I’m also following suit.
Back to your tour, you chose to perform at some SHS. Is there a reason to that?
I performed at Mawuli Senior High School. That was my Alma Mater. I was there for the 10 Year Anniversary of a certain year group, and as a former entertainment prefect, I had to entertain them. I enjoyed it as much as they did.
What have you learnt during these tours? And what was the highlight for you?
I learnt people are willing to help. You just need to make the effort. Also, if you add value to yourself, people will be willing to pay for your works. I’ve also learnt to connect with people on a personal level, winning a loyal fan over; one person at a time.
Some of the highlights include this incident. I was waiting for a car at Lapaz, someone called me from a bus, asked if I had some of the CDs on me. He bought one for twice the price and the bus left. I have people calling from as far as Brong Ahafo and Northern Region requesting for my CD because they saw it on social media. Yo, the love is real. I can feel it. I’m grateful to God and to every single person who is supporting me.
I’m very happy for you. That clearly shows you are not only growing but getting recognized for your work
Thank bro. Small small
Tell me about your music making process like?
My music making process starts off with a lot of soliloquy. Then I put the ideas into writing. I get to the studio and I’m very particular about the beat. If it’s nowhere near what I imagined when I was writing, I’m not recording till “WE”(the engineer and myself) get it right. I’m a perfectionist, so I like to take my time to make sure the work I put out has minimal flaws. I criticize my work a lot at the writing stage.
What’s the future plan for Kula going forward? What should fans expectations from you?
In the nearest future, a music video for ‘PROBLEMS’ ft. Edem & Epixode, and a lot more to come. An EP early 2018. More great music as usual and steady elevation into the limelight. #BoiWeiPaa