Exploring Afro-Fusion with Yung D3mz’ Before The Sun Comes Down

‘What sound do you think you make?’

‘I find this question so funny because like…the basis of the sound that I create, which is maybe Afrobeats..no one even knows what Afrobeats really is anymore’

It’s a little over nine on a hot Monday evening and we’re tucked away in the Apple Music Up Next (Nov 2023) artist’s lush apartment in Accra. After wholesome introductions to his intimate group of creative guests lounging in comfortable, polite silence and a brief costume fitting which sparks debate between the star and his manager, on whether a black shirt is ‘cropped enough’, D3mz hops onto the couch to join me.

‘That..is true’

We both can’t help smirking at the ridiculous pressure of being technically correct in this West African sonic epoch. I like to label it as ‘The Great Afrobeats Discourse’: a mountain of opposing views on the origins of the genre, sided with a large portion of contradictory rules by creators, promoters and patrons violently gatekeeping the sound. It went from the Afrobeat vs Afrobeats (respect the ‘s’ please) history lesson to the general ‘Afro’ pandemic, an attempt by fans trying to mockingly create individual sub-genres within the main sub-genre, with literal theme tags: ‘Afro-depression’ is to Omah Lay what ‘Afro-toxic’ is to Ruger. Sometimes, the artists do it themselves.

‘…But I’ll say, it’s Afrofusion’

For many artists, hybridising the ‘Afro’ sound with existing Western genres has become a survival tactic due to the raging global consumption of West African pop music. It’s quite a simple formula really: a composition must have bold markers of heritage and culture (language, sound) but be packaged in digestible amounts. Digestible is synonymous with familiar and familiar is highly marketable; audiences can only fully consume what they recognise, whether it’s that drill edge in Black Sherif’s High-life ballads or Burna Boy’s heavy sampling of Black American 90’s classics in his most recent album, ‘I Told Them..’  (though he’s often critiqued for it by OG fans). (Afro)fusion is the winning formula and what’s more, from an artist’s perspective, seems to be quite fun to make as well:

“I’m making music that is influenced by and spoken in African lingo but it’s a fusion of different genres around the world. I like RnB, I like pop, I put those together and bring everything back home,” Yung D3mz concludes 


For chameleon-like acts such as Yung D3mz, Afrofusion spotlights impressively extensive skill. Functioning as a music machine for close to a decade, D3mz’s initial feat and first impactful sonic footprint in the industry was through his engineering alchemy. His staggering portfolio has graced the national pop terrain with records like Kwesi Arthur’s infectious ‘Baajo’ which earned him a clean sweep of the VGMA 21’s Producer of the Year (and the youngest to coup it). His touch also covers the kingdom that is new school Ghanaian Hip-Hop/rap royalty, GroundUp Chale (but just to be clear, during its golden age, when the record label’s raison de vivre was intact): Kwesi Arthur, Quamina MP and Twitch 4Eva and others. Their ‘We Outside: Y3 Wo Abonten V.1 still stands as a true marker of great Ghanaian collaborative work in the name of Tema Excellency. However, it’s also a great avenue to sonically understand D3mz, who has astonishingly high production credits on the project. But before the glitz, the glamour and the drama (which maybe, we’ll talk about one day), all this was just good old childhood interest.


‘I developed an interest for it (music production),” he says, ” I was one of those kids who would always wonder how they could make the sound go left and then go right [in earphones & speakers](panning is the technical term)! Do they have to play it twice? And like.. my mind would go far when I heard songs. So I genuinely started researching it’

Fortunately, a healthy foundation of theater, mastering bass and guitar, as well as playing for the school band, school plays and church choir preceded his curiosity for production which was eventually engaged by tech provided by his education:

‘Them times when everyone’s iPads had Garage Band… but no one was really using it apart from me. I was going crazy on there -making full symphonies on Garage Band!’

Hilarious but so real. D3mz’s evident hunger coupled with his curious mind led to seeking out production software, advice and support from a circle of budding teen producers in boarding school and the rest as they say, is history.

It seems history is still in the making apparently because as I look up, I can’t help but steal a glance at the stunning dining table set right behind us, adorned with a field of elaborate production equipment. There’s also a microphone on the table, a tool that the music whiz head only recently conquered with a streak of melodious and experimental entries such as the ‘Yung’ debut and features with equally as promising contemporaries whilst ‘Dweet Dweet’ing with legends like Kwabena Kwabena.

‘Two years ago, if you told me I could sing so high, I would be like.. uh-no. That’s..nah,” the musician admits, “But it’s mastery. If you do ten thousand hours of singing, you’re going to become a good singer. It’s just how it works. Some people have God-given great voices but some people just have to work. I mean your voice is a muscle…it gets better as you go’


I sit back, moved by the wisdom spilling from this Yung artist. Practise and growth are the price D3mz is willing to pay to explore the limitlessness of his creativity. His latest piece of work proves to be a real testament to that.


‘You know what? Can we actually listen to Before The Sun Comes Down? Please’


It was only a matter of time that we spoke about it. I was determined for us to soak it in together.


‘Oh, Of course’


Before The Sun Comes Down is a spectacular six-track project that delivers quintessential Afrofusion and accentuates Yung D3mz’s seamlessly remarkable transition from seasoned producer to bonafide vocalist. His ability to manipulate sound trickles into lyrical and melodic aptitude that boldly emanates Rhythm and Blues as well as Pop via a purely West African lens.


‘Do you know what this EP sounds like? It sounds like a passion fruit cocktail’


D3mz chuckles at my enthusiastic description as he readies his MacBook for our listening session. And in full determination to articulate the E.P’s vibes, much to D3mz’s amusement, I began listing a combination of adjectives and verbs. One word connected with him immediately: Beach.


‘ [Coming up with] The name of the tape.. I just went to the beach and wrote down five names and then when I got home I made my decision’.


We break into conversation about the serenity and inspiration the beach offers and I mention one more word: Sunset. It happens to be one of the E.P’s most prominent motifs, quite literally illustrated on its cover art, shot by the artist’s long-time collaborator, acclaimed portrait and editorial photographer, Gus Sarkodee: a shirtless and solemn D3mz is seated in a lawn chair and is intensely illuminated by an iridescent mix of orange and yellow. We love an intentional artist. However, we also do love one that bears some vulnerability in their work and Yung D3mz does this via encoding a figurative angle for the E.P’s title:


Before The Sun Comes Down made sense because I’ve been trying to drop this E.P for two years and every year, we pushed it back because either the music wasn’t ready or something else happened. Some of the delays were just because of  my hard drive.’


‘Oh no…what happened?’


‘Y’know the unfortunate tale..that story that happens to all great artists…Y’know you lose a bit of data. So it slowed me down. Not gonna lie but it also made me choose better songs because it pushed me to make better music after losing quite a bit’


‘Very poetic. That gives a whole different meaning to the title of the E.P’


‘Absolutely. I said okay, we need to drop it before the sun comes down- [which means] at least you should’ve dropped before the day ends’


Safe to say, his touching phoenix-like ascension was cause for celebration which is exactly what the concluding track, ‘Sundown’ featuring WES7AR 22 sounds like. It works as a reminder of the artist’s range as pidgin croons are layered on splashes of afrobeats in a general tropical amapiano production. It wouldn’t be D3mz’s first South African-inspired sonic visit as DJ Kwamzy’s ‘Twisted’ and ‘Pamoja’ carried his initial plane tickets. However, the E.P’s R’n’B essence is neatly maintained especially through ‘Falling Again’ featuring American-Nigerian artist, Azanti. The track is a magnificently sublime love letter to ‘000s R’n’B balanced with a smooth mixture of ‘Baby I love you’ pop and cruisy Afrobeats. 


‘It’s giving standing-outside-her-window-with-a-boombox-in-the-rain R’n’B’ I say enthusiastically


But Yung D3mz quickly corrects me, ‘Nah nah, more like, speeding-in-a-race-car-with-the-top-down R’n’B’

Despite the apparent knack for sterling rhythm and blues, D3mz insists on not being boxed within one genre. The project’s first single ‘Do What U Want’, although inspired by Keith Sweat’s (very R’n’B) Twisted, prompts the subtle diversion from the tape’s dominant sound.


‘I made it a single because it was really short and it’s the one that’ll throw everyone off. Because you know everyone thinks I like making R’n’B-’


‘But you do like making R’n’B’


‘I know but when you listen to the tape there’s more range. So I dropped that song to set the tone that okay-I’m good at this stuff but wait till you hear the rest of it and what I have to offer’


However, in his quest to highlight capability, he also shows growth. ‘Futuristic’, the older sister of Carolina’, takes Afrofusion to the next level. The sensual and seductive ditty is essentially audible silk and oozes of modern Afrobeats perfection.


‘If there’s one way I like my Afrobeats, it’s sexy. It’s such a saucy tune!’


‘Yeah, it’s a just really sexy song’


‘It’s literally my favorite record on the E.P. I feel like you should even be able to tell!’


‘Mine too!’


The E.P’s ability to balance various sounds is highly applaudable. The slight nostalgic Western dips and exploration of the Afro-sound via authentic avenues highlights the brilliance of the producers enlisted, individually of course but also as a unit- the project is wonderfully coherent.


And how could it truly be an Afro-fusion piece without our favourite Afrobeats tropes? Money, enjoyment and D3mz’s area of expertise, love, are layered all across. In fact the intro track to the project announces the thematic agenda; the artist convinces his subject about his veritable intentions and feelings for her in Game love. The song also exhibits D3mz as a sponge of inspiration; its establishing beats mimic the ‘beep-boop-beep’ rings of game consoles.


Game love was actually a forty-five second video game loop that Uche B [producer] sent me on Whatsapp’


‘Yeah. When I heard it for the first time, it reminded me of Owl City’s Fireflies


‘Oh yeah- I can see why you would say that! And I enjoyed the way it sounded. It gave me like, a super pop, playful kind of vibe’


‘You sound like Justin Bieber on this by the way’


‘That’s funny because that’s not the first time someone has said that. Someone told me it’s giving Ghana Justin Bieber and I was like-’


We broke into laughter at the comparison which although quite eerie, has some truth to it.


Before The Sun Comes Down is a stunning submission to begin the year with and great indication that new school acts within the Ghanaian music community, especially the ones that divert from the often monotonous mainstream sounds, are propitious both in quality, delivery and global competitiveness. For D3mz, this E.P is just the beginning in an augmenting catalog that symbolises purpose and time.


‘I think my artistry is a combination of different things- a cross culture; I’ve never been used to doing things one way. I think that’s just in essence who I am. I just want to paint a picture of the times. I want my music to be a time capsule  for..like.. this generation. The kind of sounds we created. The kind of things we’re interested in. The kind of problems we had to go through, capturing what we’re going through. I also want people to be able to make memories to and with the music’


‘Very profound’


‘And obviously I make music for girls’


I can’t help but laugh, ‘I know’ especially as I was definitely one of them.


‘Because y’know… we’re in an age where it feels like we’re not loving the girls enough or at all in the songs’


He ate with that one. Ladies and Gentlemen, if this doesn’t scream R’n’B, I don’t know what does.