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KiDi, forever a golden boy

“Sky is the limit” for the Ghanaian hitmaker who, after conquering the world with “Touch It”, is getting ready for a show at London’s O2. PAM had a chat with Ghana’s “Sugar Daddy”.

If you are a close follower of all TikTok trends, it is almost impossible you have never heard “Shut up… and bend over”. These words were sung by Dennis Nana Dwamena, better known as KiDi, a 28 year old Ghanaian pop icon known for his blend of RnB, Afrobeats and Afropop. This short extract, which is taken from the track “Touch It”, propelled the singer’s second album The Golden Boy to millions of streams, millions of views and a new international audience, eager to hear and enjoy the freshest African sounds. “You’re gonna make me brag!”, KiDi laughs when I remind him of all the success. “Honestly I always saw myself as a golden boy. I was that kid in school, that if there’s anything happening, you would find me there, whether it’s music, football, basketball… You found me trying to shine at everything, you know? So I’m not surprised that I decided to go with that name for my second studio album.” 

I think it’s because of my dad and my mom,” he adds. It comes from both parents, but my mom is definitely a golden girl, she likes to be the center of attention. She looks amazing and my dad was the same way. He was actually not surprised that I’ve got out that way as well.” Even without knowing this, the name “Golden Boy” perfectly suits KiDi. There is an ease in the way the singer handles stardom and success, in the way he speaks and even in the way he sings, which gives the impression that being the focal point of hundreds of thousands of fans is actually nothing new to him. His music career, which started almost five years ago, is a total success, with millions of followers on streaming platforms (and social media), sold-out shows, two albums and appearances on national TV. In addition to that, the man is a complete pop star package: a good singer, he also knows how to produce, how to dance, and how to look handsome. It is as if he always knew he would be in the spot he is now. “If you put me through any discipline, I will learn so quickly and I’ll become the best at it. So I knew I wasn’t going to be an ordinary person! I didn’t know how it was going to happen, but I knew somehow I had a special future, you know?”

KiDi

Music ended up being the chosen discipline after a childhood that, despite his popularity at school, might not have been so pleasant. Young Dennis and his mom used to move quite a lot, “just trying to survive” in different cities and neighbourhoods. In the hardship, KiDi developed a passion for RnB and quickly saw himself as the next Ghanaian star. “I went to an all boys high school, so it was hard to… love music”, he recalls smiling. “It was not easy for me to be the lover boy listening to RnB because it was just a bunch of boys! So I ended up going with them to the studio while they were rapping. I would do the hooks. Then we started doing a lot of live performances in uni, travelling across campuses…That’s how it started”. 

Things really got serious in 2015, when KiDi took a leap of faith by joining the MTN Hitmaker competition, a popular reality TV show that aims to harness and unveil upcoming musicians. A 21 year old student at the time, the appearance came after a series of small failures that were starting to discourage him. “The industry here is quite tricky. There’s so much talent that people have to do many things to get the attention of the audience. So these talent shows can help a lot. I went to X-Factor, to Vodafone Icons, and I got rejected. When I went to MTN, I was even skeptical, thinking that maybe this is not my path. I qualified, I was able to win and that was the beginning of the rest of my life.” The rest of KiDi’s life since then? A pop star life, punctuated by a signing at Lynx Entertainment, one of Ghana’s most prominent record labels; the hit single “Say You Love Me” in 2017, which truly established him as Ghana’s official new lover boy; “Odo”, released the same year and remixed by Nigerian Afrobeats heavyweights Davido and Mayorkun; many awards (Vodafone Ghana Music, AFRIMA, 3Music Awards); and his debut album Sugar in 2019, which featured West African superstars such as Mr Eazi, Stonebwoy, Kwesi Arthur, Mayorkun, Peruzzi and more. 

Then, like for a lot of artists, 2020 happened and KiDi’s music changed. This very particular year was the occasion for the singer to release Blue, a five-track EP which took him to new musical horizons. While everyone expected more sweet, easy-listening and blissful romantic odes, with low tempos and catchy choruses, this project saw him delve deeper into his skills, and release a solid, almost experimental EP. The 80s pop-inspired “Next Time I see You”, a trap rhythm in “End In Tears” and the smooth and groovy “Say Cheese”, which became a huge hit, all attest to KiDi’s many talents, which go beyond just being a pretty face and a nice voice. “In 2020, the label had a plan for the year”, he explains simply. “But then Covid hit and it became hard to move around and make music. So Blue was made out of the pandemic. I was stuck at home with a studio, just experimenting, doing stuff according to music. I was so inspired!”

Blue and its critical success was followed by The Golden Boy in 2021, which, in-between soft romantic ballads (“Birthday Riddim”), dancing Afrobeats jam (“Magic”) and collabs with Patoranking, Kuami Eugene and Joey B, you can find “Touch It”. About the worldwide success of the song, KiDi stays very professional: “I always tell people that any song I put out there, it should do something. I don’t want to put out music just for the sake of putting out music. It should elevate my career. ‘Touch It’ opened me up to a lot of new people, a new audience, and new fans around the world.” Even if the song was released in the middle of the pandemic, the singer got to meet part of these new listeners. “I went to East Africa!”, he says enthusiastically. “I went to Tanzania, I went to Kenya and I got to interact with new fans”. When I ask him if he is not slightly scared to now only be associated with one song, the ease at handling stardom resurfaces. “No, no, no, because like I said, growing up, I’ve always known that I was going to be special. If you look back at all the great artists, it took them years of hits, countless hits, to stay on top. And I feel like my journey has only begun and I pray for more success and more hits. I believe this is my gift, that God has given me. I feel like the sky’s the limit.

Before touching the sky, KiDi is on his way to meet and conquer a new audience in London alongside Kuami Eugene, for a March 6th show at Indigo 02. In addition to being his label mate, Kuami is an “amazing, amazing, amazing” artist who also went through being a contestant at MTN hitmaker, and a frequent collaborator (“Spiritual”, “Ohemaa”, “Twist”…). “Now, all the artists out there will also know that they can also do it”, KiDi affirms. “What we are doing is opening doors for everybody, it’s allowing them to come out and say ‘listen, I can go do shows in the UK, in Amsterdam, and rock it’”. One giant leap for both musicians, and one big step for Ghanaian music, for which KiDi carries the flag high.

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