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About Akwaaba

Akwaaba is dedicated to spreading African music and pop culture. We started Akwaaba because we found it way too difficult to access a whole lot of music from Africa. To resolve this, we offer online distribution, promotion and marketing, we work with artists to get them shows, studio collaborations, we build their online presence, we even license music for film and TV: we cover a lot of ground to get artists more visibility and more money. And for fans, we offer a window onto the wide diversity of music being created all over the continent.

We strive to work in a fair, transparent way, and we try to make you feel as close as possible to the music and the artists. We hope you enjoy the music and stories, and we hope you feel compelled to go to Africa, and/or pick up your guitar, and/or pick up your credit card and buy your mom an album of fiiiiiine African tunes. Buy it, steal it, rip it, duplicate it, do what you must, just keep it moving chale!

About our team: Benjamin Lebrave, founder

Benjamin has long been a fervent musical explorer. As a DJ, he could never find much satisfaction in sticking to popular and recognizable sounds, instead venturing deeper into obscure grooves and experimenting with different regional genres. Doing business development for a top digital music distributor, he also did not find much comfort in sticking to top 40 territory, instead tracking the latest long-tail micro-trends in both music and the business of music.

The DJ knew what sounded good, the biz dev guy knew how to make it available. With both sides of the brain restless and in constant alert, it was only a matter of time before Benjamin would get into a style of music which was, simply, amazing but unavailable.

And this style was Hiplife. Hip hop sung in local Ghanaian languages, often times with a Highlife or dancehall musical twist. Loud sound system party music. Yet a style of music hardly available outside of Ghana. Benjamin could not dream of a greater excuse to go to Accra and see what was going on there, and why this music was still not available outside of Africa.

This was in the fall of 2007. What a trip. With a knack for traveling and a strong drive to share his love of music, Benjamin went to Ghana. And then he went back again, this time also checking out Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast, Benin and Togo. There he met with dozens and dozens of talented yet isolated musicians. He heard their music on the radio, in clubs and in recording studios. He explained his vision and listened to their needs and desires. Together they shared meals in their homes, and exchanged thoughts during the endless commute through gridlocked African capitals. Benjamin discovered new trends and old styles, putting in all of his heart and talent in connecting the dots between these local artists and music fans worldwide.

But Benjamin is not only a chameleon music-loving traveler. Born and raised in Paris, France, in 2003 he graduated from ENSAE (Paris Tech), one of France’s top graduate schools, with a double master’s degree in economics and statistics. Rather than further his education with a PhD at an Ivy League school in the US, he chose to put aside his not-so-funky background to follow his passion: music. Yet his strong analytical skills and work ethics are never that far away, and come in handy on a daily basis to ensure Akwaaba’s smooth operation. Speaking fluent French and English also helps. And being able to schmooze in Spanish and Portuguese doesn’t hurt much either.

Benjamin now runs Akwaaba from Accra, Ghana. You can contact him at benjamin@akwaabamusic.com.

on Oktober 9 | by