Artwork is always important to us at Harmattan Rain. It speaks volumes and there’s always a beautiful story behind it. Especially for artists who go the extra mile to create album art that stands alone as art in itself.
For Akan, creating the artwork for his first album, Onipa Akoma, was a project in itself. He had a message and a story to tell with Onipa Akoma and that’s exactly what he did, with the help of photographer Francis Kokroko and stylist Daniel Quist. Akan talked us through the creation process, and the ideology behind Onipa Akoma artwork.
The album art for Onipa Akoma, which translates from Asante Twi as A Human’s heart, represents the album. Themed around spirituality and morality, the album takes a look at what the heart seeks in contrast with what the mind thinks.
“And that’s what made the cover,” Akan said, “we placed an empty gown to represent want, love, lust, needs, wishes, & happiness of a person. And the bible for morals, society, religion and things that sometimes comes in between these wishes.”
In the album art, Akan is seen standing in front of a church. This represents our sub consciences that checks us in our quest for these wishes.
The choice of Akan’s clothing isn’t coincidental either. He is garbed in what is reminiscent of 17th Century mens fashion, complete with round neck frills. One would think that with an all Asante twi- named project, the choice of attire would be a smite in the face of Europeanism or westernization. But Akan says it was to project the timelessness of Onipa Akoma.
“I think the concept is very much relatable in all sense and we didn’t want to put it into that box,” the rapper said, “It cuts across and it would have been unfair to wrap it around a particular era.”
The run up to the announcement of the album saw a set of photos of Akan in different attires and scenarios, also shot by Francis Kokroko and styled by Daniel Quist. These were not random photo sets, but they all contributed to the creative documentation of Onipa Akoma.
For instance, the photos of Akan in a yellow jacket with the sleeves ripped, was a symbol of individualism and independence. In Pirate culture, the sleeves of rogue pirates were ripped off to show that they were no longer part of the crew. Kind of similar to an army officer being stripped of his badge.
Akan admitted to this, “Looking deep into myself and reflecting on my wishes and morals I grew up as a young boy with little or no guidance. So, you can say that this, for me, is stepping out and doing things out of my own will.”
The second promo picture that speaks to the album is the one of him with a skyline of washed white undergarments above him. The symbolism is obvious here; it represents the pure nature of the album- each track being a version of himself spread out for the world to see, not tainted by ideas or ideals of society. He wears a red beret which also translates to him being soldier of the truth.
The album art with the tracklist is still part of the story of Onipa Akoma, with two brides representing Needs and Wants. One of the two models is designer Eyiwaa Gold.
Onipa Akoma is an artwork representing Akan’s life, his day to day, the lifestyle and culture of the Ghanaian people. Akan’s Onipa Akoma is a 15 track masterpiece which has been described as the next best thing after Obrafour’s Pae mu Ka. The album will be released on 14th October, 2017 and can be pre-ordered via Aftown.