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Pappy Kojo, brazen as ever for his debut album
©Josh Sisly

Pappy Kojo, brazen as ever for his debut album

From rap to comedy, from hits to viral trends, Pappy Kojo is widely considered one of Ghana’s most influential artists. Set to release his long awaited debut album Logos 2 Pappy Kojo found time to speak with PAM about his project(s), his career and his love for provocation.

Originally from Takoradi, a city of beaches and music in western Ghana, Pappy moved to Italy as a teenager to learn how to cook. But mixing different ingredients, creating a harmony between flavours and coming up with his own recipes seemed more attractive in music than in the kitchen for the young boy. Very quickly, he started posting covers of his favourite artists, from hiplife legends (Tic Tac, Reggie Rockstone, Obrafour) to American rap stars (Lil Wayne, 50 Cents, Eminem). “I realized people in Ghana were taking this seriously, so I left everything and came back to Ghana”, he tells us. “But I couldn’t handle the pressure. It only took me 6 months to go back. I just couldn’t, the experience was too new to me. I actually stopped music until 2014, when I came back and things started kicking off”. At this time, Pappy joined forces with Joey B to release “Wave” and “Realer No”, two hits that quickly propelled the rapper’s career. The 2 artists brought fresh air to Ghanaian hip-hop, with aesthetics and beats strongly influenced by the emerging American trap scene. “On these tracks, we were just bragging a little bit and saying how confident we are”, Pappy recalls nostalgically. “It was just raw young guys doing hip-hop to the core. New sound, new wave, new energy, new everything!”. And the energy hasn’t stopped. From 2014 up to now, the rapper has been dropping singles after singles, from the now classic “Akwaaba” to “Thomas Pompoy3yaw”. Yet, in a 7 year-career, Logos 2 is the first official body of work the artist is releasing… why? “Good question… But I have no idea bro!”, Pappy bursts out laughing.

Pappy Kojo – All Day All Night (ft. Kofi Kinaata & Gyedu Blay Ambolley) 
Rap, humor and provocation: a winning recipe

Singles were not the only thing that Pappy used to solidify his fan base since his 2014 outbreak. The rapper is perhaps equally known for his music than for his humour. With 1 million followers on Instagram, almost as many on Facebook and other social media (“They call me the number 1 Tik Tok rapper!”, he adds), the artist is more than influential. From making his fans shave their eyebrows to bringing the infamous Crocs sandals back in style, Pappy’s rapper image is intimately linked with his public image, a trendsetting, funny and viral guy. Playing the comedian, paradoxically, is maybe the best way he found to stay true to himself. “That’s how I’ve always been, and I just can’t hide it anymore”, he laughs. “We just want to laugh, man. Growing up, I used to listen to rappers like D12, Snoop Dogg, and these are also funny rappers!”. And without trying to lend him political intentions, it is undeniable that his humour often finds a huge social echo. Because if there is one thing Pappy Kojo likes, it is saying the things that shouldn’t be said. “I don’t even know what a taboo is, to be honest”, he confirms. Like the time he called a twitter fan “wo tw3” (a Twi term we encourage our readers to look for on Urban Dictionary), causing an online mayhem leading to a hit song, because he is “in his thirties now and nobody should tell him how to tweet or how to act”. Or that time, recently, when he stated being gay on national TV, in a country where same-sex sexual acts are illegal. “Do you hate gay men?”, the rapper asks his host with a sardonic smile in the video, now viral. “When my grandma saw it on TV, she called me directly”, he laughs. “She told me I have to come home, she must talk to me. I’m gonna be honest with you man, growing up here with my grandma, I used to be a hardcore homophobic. But then I developed what I call common sense. Why are you here, trying to tell people how to live? See how the system is hard. If a grown man decides to be with another grown man, and that’s what makes him happy, why are you trying to take that away from him?”. As Pappy himself puts it, “there are times we can joke, but you have to be serious too”. And despite all his joyful extravagances, the artist has also been very open about a dark episode he lived: a depression, something that at the time didn’t match with his job and his reputation. “They don’t even take depression seriously here, you go to your mom, you say you’re depressed, she will probably tell you to fuck off. And I don’t blame them either, it’s a jungle out here, everyone is trying to survive. But for me, having come out about it, that was one of my proudest moments ever. Even up to now, some people use it to make fun of me. But I don’t care at all. You have no power of hurting my career, unless you cut my throat!

© Laurent Bentil
All aboard Logos 2

Depression is now far behind, the happy days are back, and Pappy just wants to please his fans with his new album. “Logos 2 is a ship that growing up in Takoradi, would come once in a while. Whenever they told us as kids that it was coming, we were super excited to go on it. Because it had everything: the toys, the books… it had everything man! That’s how I wanted my album to feel like. I wanted my fans to really crave for Logos 2, after listening to Logos 2 they would want to go back to Logos 2. I was also looking for something that connected with Takoradi. It just fit”. And the project will probably fit the fans too. With 14 tracks, 14 flows and 18 guests, the man has been generous. “I’m going all the way out with this one,” he smiles. “The whole of last year I didn’t release anything until December, so I really need to feed people music”. However, make no mistake: this is probably not an album for the mainstream Ghanaian, African or whatever public. Indeed, Logos 2 is not (afro)pop but a pure rap album, and even on the most afrobeats-leaning songs (“Thomas Pompoy3yaw”, “Tonight”, “Nampa”), Pappy delivers real bars. But how do we know this is hip-hop from Takoradi, Ghana? Simple answer: “My language bro!,” Pappy says proudly. “Nobody speaks the Takoradi Fante the way I speak it. Even some people from Takoradi don’t even understand it. And if you don’t understand my lyrics, it’s fine: just vibe to it”. 

Being an ambassador of Takoradi has always been important to Pappy. “I feel like when people come to Ghana, all they know is Accra, Accra, Accra”, he tells us. “How can you just go to Italy and say Rome, Rome, Rome?? There are other beautiful places here in Ghana. Takoradi is one of them, and it feels right to promote it. But I wouldn’t lie to you, most of the Takoradi people don’t even like me, cuz apparently I didn’t grow up here so they’re like “why do you claim you are from here” or whatever”. Yet, the local music bosses were present to support him for his album. On “All day”, for example, he joins forces with rapper Kofi Kinaata and highlife legend Gyedu Blay Ambolley, the “Takoradi GOATS (Greatest Of All Times)”, as he puts it. On a national scale, huge names are also on the project (Sarkodie, Kwesi Arthur, Kuami Eugene), and South Africa’s Busiswa and Nigerian rapper Phyno bring their voices to “Thomas Pompoy3yaw (Remix)” and “Greens Means Go (Remix)”. For a first album, Pappy didn’t want something intimate and personal, but a real party, in line with his personality. This generous and fun tracklist didn’t prevent him from being continuously open and inappropriate in his lyrics. And if you don’t understand Fante, just know that the main message of this album is…? “Bro, I said everything in this album”, he answers bluntly. “Everything is in the album. Everything bro, eeeeeverything. Eeeeeverything”. The music speaks for itself. “Logos 2” is an album about confidence, fun, love stories and passion. The only secret it keeps from us is the rapper’s next project: “Pappy’s Pizza coming out finally this year! I’m excited about that too, because here in Ghana, going through a lot of places, man, the pizza that I know is not like that, it’s not that hard”. One more wave to sail for Pappy Kojo’s boat.

Logos II is out now.

Listen to Pappy Kojo in our Pan African Rap playlist on Spotify and Deezer.