Our first-ever Ghanaian Artist of the Week is EL (pronounced “eeh ell”), an MC disseminating hip-hop outside of the hiplife box. Hailing from Accra, EL’s 25-track album Something Else features the dancefloor genre azonto, something not often heard outside of Ghana, but something that, once heard, is universally enjoyed. We spoke to him (real name Elom Adablah) about his height, singing “happy birthday” to Ghana, and the spread of azonto all the way to Sweden.
Congratulations on winning artist of the week. It was a close race. Were you surprised by the wave of support that carried you to victory?
I’m always surprised by my fan base. It''s happened really fast so when people tell me they’re a fan its hard to believe, but I do appreciate all the love I continue to get worldwide.
How would you describe your sound? You seem to have quite a blend of influences?
My sound currently doesn’t fall into any specific category, I draw my musical influences from different genres of music, it is essentially very urban, and predominantly electronic, my major influences include M.anifest, M.I., Reggie Rockstone, Biggie, Jay-Z and Kanye West.
What did you learn as a producer that has helped you as a performer?
Being a producer has taught me to understand the structure of a performance. You anticipate a certain reaction to your songs and you get the chance to translate what you felt to the crowd when performing, usually because you had the crowd in mind.
Tell us about how you made the azonto hit “U Go Kill Me” with Sarkodie?
“U Go Kill Me” was produced on a bright and sunny day in the beautiful city of Accra, by Krynkman and I, E.L. Sarkodie killed it. That is all.
How did you get your tagline “This is crazy, Chale?”
I feel that whatever I do goes beyond expectations, so I like to call myself crazy. Same way whatever I produce is Crazy Chale. Lol.
What does “Obuu Mo” mean?
Do you respect? Literally.
What languages and dialects do you rhyme and sing in?
Mostly in Ga and Twi, aside from Pidgen English, of course.
What was the inspiration for the song “Takoradi” off your debut album Something Else?
That song is a little personal to me. My ex lived in Takoradi, which is a journey from the capital Accra where I live. The distance really broke the relationship. Takoradi is inspired by the last journey I made to see her. It brings bittersweet memories.
What was it like recording “Happy Birthday Ghana” with so many other Ghanaian artists?
It was a rush. It was nice to be in the presence of such crazy talent. It was relaxed and laid back because we were amazingly like minded.
How tall are you?
I dunno. 6.5? Don’t really think about it.
What is the secret to making a good track for azonto dancing?
It’s a secret.
Can anyone you’ve seen outside of Ghana really do azonto?
Of course. You wouldn’t believe how far other nationalities have taken it. Have you seen the Swedish dancers Azonto video.
Are you going to do next?
Promote myself. Perform whenever I get the chance. Total World Planetorial Universal Domination!
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