You’ve got to hand it to FuseODG : the man doesn’t waste time. Just a couple of months and change after exploding onto the scene with single “Azonto” and its accompanying video, the London based MC has won the hearts of many Ghanaians including myself. Having dropped one of the most buzzed-about singles of the year and secured the front-runners position in Azonto across the globe. He somehow ended 2011 on an even higher note, getting selected as an opener to Sarkodie’s Azonto UK Tour. What might he accomplish if he keeps his momentum going into 2012? The rest of the game must be trembling at the very thought.
In the exclusive interview below, FuseODG steps into our den to discuss his relationship with Killbeatz, how Hiplife or Afrobeats came to have such a profound influence on an artist hailing from UK, and why he and his Fuse crew is destined to shine.
Tell the people a lil bit about yourself and let them know who FUSE ODG really is?
Fuse ODG is the name. Born in London, Lived in Ghana as a kid, came back to the UK for my secondary school days and as a result I always incorporate my african roots in my music. I am an artist who wants to change lives and influence the world for the better with my music. I also run a community projects in the UK, that aims to inspire young people to reach higher and be successful. I guess you can say I’m all about CHANG£. Making change (difference) and making change (money).
Why the name FuseODG?
Fuse is the first name derived from a name my cousin gave me when we were kids, Fusion, I cut it down to Fuse coz I felt like that represented me more as an artist I want to be in every household with my music (as a ‘fuse’ is). and ODG stands for Off Da Ground, which is the group that I’m actually with. They’re like family to me so I’ve kept ODG as my surname. The group ODG comprises of rappers, singers, producers, sound engineers etc.
What part of Ghana are you from?
haha…I’m from Kumasi. Although last time I came to Ghana, I was mostly in Tema and Accra but I’m an Ashanti.
What inspired you to pick up the mic?
I’ve always been interested in music and I always use to mess about on tapes when i was younger. Listening to people like Michael Jackson, 2pac, as a child and how they can change people’s moods through performance, songs etc. I wanted that so I would rap and sing like them and eventually I started writing my own lyrics and then songs. One person from Ghana who made rap look so cool as a kid listening to him was Reggie Rockstone….he personally inspired me big time to want to pick up the mic coz he was Ghanaian but sounded so cool.
What influences you day to day?
God, things that I go through, good or bad, things that I see the world going through. All of the above keeps me passionate about the music that I make and the activities that i engage myself in
How long have you been doing music and when did you actually know that this is what you want to do with your life?
Been recording songs since I was 14 years and i actually took it serious around the age of 16 after I performed with a group that I was in at the time and the crowd were going crazy over the performance. When I came off stage, I was just buzzing off the performance and from that day I got addicted to being on stage and making music for people.
Describe your style of music to those not familiar with your work?
hmm, this question’s always tricky coz I’ve got music that varies from hiphop, rock, funky to afrobeats (hiplife)…but regardless of the type of genre is in, it always has my african vibes in it. so I am an african who makes good music.
How did you get into the hiplife scene?
I’ve always admired the hiplife scene as a music artist who grew up in South London. I’m known in London for other genres but it got to a point where I started to naturally produce afrobeats coz over the years i’d been influenced by the music. But what consolidated my interest in being part of the hiplife was when I came to Ghana in 2011. It was so inspiring to tangibly see a whole new world of a music scene rather than grime, hiphop, rock etc. that I usually see in London. At that point, I knew there was a reason why I came to Ghana.
So now lets dive into your song ‘azonto’, what has the response been so far?
The response has been outstanding. As we’re speaking, I’m getting ready for a show tonight in London. When I made the song with Killbeatz and Tiffany, we never thought it would fly as quickly as it did but it was all over the clubs the next weekend upon its release. It became number 25 in most viewed and favourited in the week of its release on YouTube. My fan base have expanded to countries I never thought of but are now on the agenda to tour in. Lots of people from various countries are dancing to the song and uploading their versions of the dance. It has been an overwhelming response.
How did you hook up with Killbeatz?
lol through TWITTER! Messaged him to check out my music, he checked it, he loved it and said we can work. I said cool, I’ll be in Ghana in 3 months, he said cool. I landed, I messaged him, he invited to the studio. we made amazing music. He took me through Tema and other places. It was through him that I saw the scene and got really inspired to bring that feeling back to the UK. I spent 2 weeks in Tema just admiring the scene and making my own music with Killbeatz.
Are you more into the azonto sound when it comes to beats?
To be honest, the azonto sound was not intentional for the azonto song…that sound is now coined as an azonto sound coz lots of artist are making that fast tempo type of tracks. I’m into good music whether slow or fast.
How did the Tiffany collaboration come about?
Met Tiffany in Ghana and through Killbeatz, we got closer and began to work together musically. The azonto song was actually recorded when Killbeatz and Tiffany came to London in September. I have a recording studio in London so they would make songs in my studio. I asked Tiffany whether she could do the azonto dance, she said yes, so i asked her if she’s down to feature on a song that i’m doing for the UK called azonto and she naturally wanted to do it coz we work so well together in the studio.
Explain the idea behind the track ‘Azonto’ – some are saying you helped take the movement global, how do you react to that?
When I came back from Ghana, I asked so many people whether they heard of a dance called azonto and most people said NO. I would always try and show them the dance, which I learned from Killbeatz in Ghana as the song says. So the idea was to bring the azonto movement that I saw in Ghana to the UK. It was as simple as that but I wanted to do it in a way that nobody could deny it so this song had to be crazy. Showed Killbeatz the idea for it and he went crazy for it and he straight away murdered the beat for it as he does. In terms of people saying I made the movement global, wow, it’s great to hear that but I only contributed in making it global. The dance is so addictive and it has unified Africans around the world especially the Ghanaian diaspora.
If i ask you to teach me how to ‘azonto’ , can you teach me?
haha, I can easily teach you…just make a fist and you can hit ‘em with a blow blow blow! Although i must say it was not easy trying to teach my friends in the UK how to do the dance as it’s a whole new world of rhythm. I always tell them they have to let go of their western rhythm and reunite with their african rhythm.
This is something that my friends and i have been wondering about, can you please clarify the lyric that you say after Tiffany says ‘wo y3 shashi wo wo, shashi wo wo freeze,azonto’?
looool. Migraine Skank, man’a like girl show me AZONTO!
Why did you choose to hide your face in the video and who was the girl that was with you?
It was not me dancing in the video. It is Afromask, a dance group in the UK. I just recruited them for that video. but my azonto be deadly
When people think about azonto, the two songs that comes to mine is Sarkodie’s ‘U Go Kill Me’ and yours. How does that recognition make you feel?
That’s crazy man. That is just surreal. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished the mission of bringing that dance to new audience abroad.
Do you agree that your record is the christmas song of 2011?
A lot of people are saying that it’s the Christmas song of 2011. I think it is too coz a lot of people from the UK and other countries who have connected with my song are coming to Ghana as well and they want to hear that in GH as well the people of Ghana who have expressed their love for it.
Is there an album in the works and when should we expect it?
There definitely is. Sometime next year, expect the album to drop. I’m really excited about that.
How big is the hiplife scene in UK ?
The hiplife scene (also known as afrobeats in the UK) is rising fast as time goes on and 2012 looks like it will be the year for afrobeats. Bashment/reggae has had its time, funky house has had it and now it’s our turn, AFROBEATS. Let’s go!
Has you treatment by others changed since you released this track?
Very. but as always I know the real people who have been there from the start. It’s love all round regardless.
Describe your experience with Sarkodie’s tour in London?
It was an honour to be able to performing alongside a great artist like Sarkodie who seems to be such a hard working artist.
Did he give you any advice as an up and coming artist?
We didn’t get to sit down and talk unfortunately due to a lot of things happening around us. I’m hoping to catch up with him in Ghana.
You mentioned on twitter that you’ll be performing in Ghana this december, do you have a tour lined up in Ghana?
I am performing at a couple events in Ghana. The main one being Ghana Rocks on the 27th Dec alongside Chipmunk, my family R2Bees, Tiffany, Stay Jay and other great artists. There are other dates as well that i’m looking forward to. follow me twitter to stay updated, @FuseODG
Singing or rapping?
Both. It’s hard to pick one although a rapper is what I am first of all. I personally just do what’s right for the song.
Where can people get in contact with you and find your music. Twitter,Facebook or a website?
What’s next for you?
I’ll be releasing my next single and more songs early 2012 so I’m currently working on more music in the studio. so stay tuned.
Is there anything that i missed that you want your fans to know?
More music real sooooon.
Thank you for your time chaley and good luck out there.
yeah bro…I appreciate it. Your support is appreciated as well. This is the beginning of something historical. I’ll do whatever I can to support you guys as well.