US star T.I. talks about his friendship with Nasty C and AKA
& working with African artists in the future
People dropped their jaws recently when American rapper T.I. released the slips on his upcoming collaboration with Nasty C and his friendship with AKA at an event in Kenya.
The rapper is no stranger to the African continent and he was spotted in Cape Town in 2018.
In a video shared by Boombuzz Kenya on Twitter, the Grammy-award winning artist spoke about his collaboration with Nasty C and revealed that their track together hadn’t come out yet.
He also spoke of the good relations he has formed with African artists over the years, including AKA, and shared his ambitions to work with musicians from the continent in the future.
“I align my talents with other talented people … I have relationships with Davido, AKA. I have connections and relationships with people in the music industry from Africa.”
ATTENTION ⚠️⚠️⚠️@Tip on his collabo w/ @Nasty_CSA and him being open to working with other African artistes in future. #JamesonConnectsKenya
T.I. also counts SA rapper Kwesta as one of this friends, after the Ngud’ hitmaker opened for the US star during his 2017 American tour.
Speaking to TshisaLIVE at the time, Kwesta said that he got a call from the rapper’s team asking if he would be interested in performing at some of T.I.’s shows in America.
“They were like, ‘we really like your vibe and we think that we can really vibe with you. We want you to come out and open for T.I.’ It came out of the blue. I haven’t met T.I. or anyone from his team before, so to get this call was totally unexpected. I am a big fan of T.I. so I naturally said yes,” Kwesta explained.
The unexpected art of Ghana’s hand-painted movie posters
In the late 1980s, mobile cinema businesses were burgeoning in Ghana, bringing film screenings to villages and rural areas without theaters or electricity. These makeshift “video clubs” — usually made up of a diesel generator, a VCR and a TV or projector loaded onto a truck — would travel around the country showcasing Hollywood and Bollywood blockbusters, as well as West African films.
To attract viewers, the video clubs needed to advertise their offerings. But they did not have the original movie posters or the means to print alternatives — the country’s military rulers had even restricted the import of printing presses.
So they made their own, commissioning local artists to hand-paint them on used flour sacks. They were large, usually 40 to 50 inches in width, and 55 to 70 inches in height.
The posters have since made ripples in the art world, with early originals commanding high prices from collectors.
The works are famous for their garish, exuberant style, full of muscles, blood, and exaggerated features.
“They were designed to sell movie tickets, it was all about getting people through the doors,” said Brian Chankin, a dealer and collector, on the phone from Ghana. “So the vibe really was to try and make each poster as unique as possible, not to mention as crazy as possible.”
Occasionally, artists took creative license by depicting events that weren’t in the films. “I sometimes watched the movies and picked some actions from it,” said Heavy Jay, an artist who owns a studio in Teshie, near Ghana’s capital Accra, in an email. “But if the movie was so boring, then I had to do it by my own imagination, which mostly features some images and actions that (were) not in the movies, to attract more people to go watch them.”
By the 1990s, the height of the movie club business, several dozen artists were employed to produce the posters. Some of the most popular artists — or their pseudonyms — included Joe Mensah, Nyen Kumah, Leonardo, Socrates, Death is Wonder, Frank Armah and D.A. Jasper.
Brian Chankin began collecting the posters about 10 years ago, just as global interest started building around them. He displayed them on the wall of a video store he owned in Chicago.
“People started wanting to buy them off the wall, so we ended up selling quite a few,” he said. “I was able to gain a little following with them, so I started buying more and more with any money I had. Over the years, hundreds and hundreds of posters have come through my hands, and many of them I keep for my collection.
“There’s some that would go for well into the thousands if I decided to sell them, but those are the ones I am certainly not interested in selling. I know that other people have sold these posters for upwards of $50,000. Anything from the 1980s is just incredibly scarce and incredibly hard to find at this point.”
Demand for video club posters in Ghana started dying out in the mid-2000s, when home viewing became more widespread and printing became more practical than commissioning original artworks, which took days to make. Since then, many artists have quit the trade, Chankin said. But some have kept the tradition alive and are now working on commission, either making copies of original posters or painting entirely new ones of both old and new movies.
In 2015, Chankin opened Deadly Prey Gallery, a Chicago-based studio that works with Ghanaian artists. Prices for commissioned posters vary from $300 to $600, and the most requested are from the big 1980s action blockbusters that made the posters famous. “Predator, Terminator, anything with Kurt Russell, anything with (Jean-Claude) Van Damme,” said Chankin, adding: “Horror is arguably the most popular genre.”
With interest seemingly on the rise, the posters are now easy to find on online. But, Chankin warned, buyers should beware of modern copies masquerading as old originals.
“There are always bootlegs — they usually try to make the posters look older than they actually are,” he said. “Those ones I could spot in a second, but other people might not be able to.”
BOOKMARKS: Southport writer explores complex pilgrimages to Africa
Otis L. Lee Jr.’s latest, “The Last Train from Djibouti,” reads like a novel but is actually fascinating non-fiction.
Otis L. Lee Jr. is a retired lawyer, currently living in Southport. In 2013, he wrote a memoir, “From South Boston to Cambridge: The Making of a Philadelphia Lawyer,” covering the history of his African-American family back to 1840s Virginia.
His latest book reads like a novel but is fascinating non-fiction: “The Last Train from Djibouti” (Virginia Beach: Koehler Books, $19.95 paperback).
Lee’s text follows two remarkable African-American women who each make pilgrimages to Africa.
One is his wife, Dr. Michelle Palmer Lee, who spent a year in Uganda in the 1970s as an exchange student. The other is Lee’s mentor, Harriett Karuhige, who married a Ugandan student in the USA, followed him back home, and later labored to launch a nursing training program in Botswana.
Both women are enthralled to discover Africa and to find that it’s not like the Tarzan movies. (One of Dr. Lee’s relatives worried that she might be attacked by wild animals.)
Both, however, soon discover that modern Africa is not Marvel Comics mythical Wakanda. There are political troubles, for one thing: both journeyed to Uganda in the early days of Idi Amin’s presidency. Both women must cope with archaic class and tribal boundaries and long-surviving customs — including polygamy.
Lee could have cited his wife as co-author; much of the text is quoted directly from her memoir and journals. (As it is, he dedicates the book to her.) He sums up his premise in the book’s subtitle: “Africa Beckons Me, but America is My Home.”
Light dims in Tar Heel literary world
North Carolina literature lost another giant when Elizabeth Spencer died just before Christmas. She was 98.
A Mississippi native, Spencer had lived in Chapel Hill since 1986 and taught for many years at UNC. She wrote nine novels and eight short story collections, including 2014′s “Starting Over.”
Her big book, however, was 1960′s “The Light in the Piazza,” the story of a North Carolina tobacco executive’s wife who travels to Italy with her daughter. The daughter, Clara, soon attracts the attention of a handsome Italian nobleman, who wants to propose marriage. But there’s a hitch: Clara suffered a traumatic brain injury as a child, and as a result will remain childlike all her life.
A best seller, “The Light in the Piazza” was made into a 1962 film starring Oliviia De Havillian, Yvette Mimeux and George Hamilton, and later was adapted as a long-running Broadway musical.