Fuse ODG releases his new album ‘New Africa Nation’ on March 8th to coincide with Ghana Independence Day. Released onOff Da Ground Records (distributed by ADA
Over the last half decade, Nana Richard Abiona – aka Fuse ODG – has shifted the direction of British pop music. When he first burst onto the scene in 2013 he was a trailblazer working in a genre that didn’t have a title. As his own name suggested, his music was a fusion, drawing on the sounds of rap, grime, bashment and house that he’d grown up on in Mitcham, South London, and the Afrobeat and Hi-life he would hear when his parents took him back to their Ghanaian homeland.
In Ghana, Fuse linked up with production mastermind Killbeatz, and together the duo found a way to join the dots between Fuse’s influences.
Wiith the song ‘Azonto, they broke into the mainstream. Through 2013 and 2014, Azonto was followed by a run of back to back top 10 singles; ‘Antenna’, ‘Dangerous Love’, ‘T.I.N.A’. and ‘Million Pound Girl’.
This chart success was unprecedented for a modern African artist. It laid down the foundations for the rise of the Afrobeats sound worldwide, a style that has dominated popular culture since and inspired everyone from Beyonce to Kanye West.
The record saw Fuse start on a conscious awakening that would see him splice his addictive dance tunes with social activism. This new found awareness drove Fuse onward, inspiring him to speak out for a re-evaluation of Africa in popular culture. Famously this led to his turning down an appearance at Band Aid 30, despite repeated requests from Bob Geldof.
Whilst many acts would be sunk by this refusal to play the industry game, Fuse’s stance saw him command respect for maintaining his integrity, and if anything this lead to higher profile collaborations. In 2015 international hit-maker Diplo asked Fuse to vocal the global smash ‘Light It Up’ cementing Fuse’s reputation as one of the new wave of Afrobeats artists able to command worldwide acclaim.
Collaborations came thick and fast. Of particular note was his connection with Ed Sheeran, the multiple-platinum selling songwriter flying out to Ghana to work on a number of tracks in Fuse’s home studio in 2016.
The time was spent fruitfully, with Fuse co-writing the track ‘Bibia Be Ye Ye’ for Sheeran’s Grammy winning, record breaking album ÷, and Sheeran repaying the favour by working on the Fuse track ‘Boa Me’. By the time these dropped in late 2017, Afrobeats was a recognised international phenomenon – the seeds Fuse had sown in 2013 had flourished.
Titling the new project ‘New African Nation’, Fuse determined to make something that could draw together the infectious groove of his previous work with the conscious messages of previous black leaders.
As well as a spiritual barrier to reconnecting as people, we have actual physical barriers. And this opening song is a message to African’s around the world that it’s time to come home, mentally, spiritually, physically.”
“Musically we’re doing things that are very alien,” he agrees “– but they’re not gonna be alien in a few years from now. This time the message is working hand in hand with music that makes you dance…every song we made on this album, it was magic. I know it’s going to be appreciated, for the music and the message, and that we’re thinking ahead sonically, and with the content.”