Meet Me at The Republic

THE REPUBLIC PATIO | photo provided by The Republic

Since it’s July 1st opening in Osu, The Republic Bar + Grill has quickly become the spot in Accra. Like the every-week-kind-of-spot to chill, catch up with friends, and listen to some cool music over beer and cho. It’s a hip, Ghanaian version of Cheers – where everyone feels at home because the place has such a kick back ambiance.

BLOGGER VICTORIA OKOYE + ARCHITECT BRANDON ROGERS

THE CHILL KIDS | photo provided by The Republic

One thing that consistently draws a crowd to The Republic is the music. Accra folk are thirsty for places to hear good music and The Republic is on point in this regard. Thanks to Resident DJ Jason Kleatsh of GALT|Faculty and visiting international DJs – the place jams down every night to a generous mix of electronica, highlife, house, Afrobeat, hip hop, baile funk and more that will keep you running to the DJ booth and asking “Now, WHO is this?!”

The prices are insane – 5 cedi cocktails and 3 + 7 cedi tapas – for a country where the cedi has steadily depreciated and city restaurants respond by increasing their menu prices by the week. By using local ingredients (sugarcane rum, cassava, brown rice + beans, etc.) The Republic owners and brothers, Raja and Kofi Owusu-Ansah, keep costs down and customers happy.

COOL CHO | photo provided by The Republic

COCO BATIDA / photo provided by The Republic

Stop by and try the Coco Batida cocktail. This silk dream in a glass is a mixture of coconut milk, cream, crushed ice, cane spirit, chocolate pieces and nuts. With Mama Owusu-Ansah in the kitchen, the food is simple and delicious – hearty, flavorful, and right on time.

Whether you’re coming for a Tuesday happy hour or a Thursday live music jam or Sunday DJ lounge session, this bar won’t disappoint.

For more on The Republic, check out our interview below with Raja + Kofi:

PHOTOG PHENOM, Tacitus Nana-Yabani

PUNCH DRUNK LOVE | photo provided by The Republic

THE REPUBLIC CONCEPT

[Raja] We were thinking, where can you go in Accra where you can just sit, listen to good music and have a drink at a good price? That’s what we were looking for. And that’s what we are about – good music, good price, good environment, good ambiance and correct people around you. It’s as simple as that.

[Kofi] The concept of The Republic Bar captures what Ghana was in the early Independence period at a time when Ghana had a lot of good stories to tell – whether in culture, arts, music or politics.

AFRO ANTIQUE | photo provided by The Republic

[Raja] The décor is influenced by that epoch – books, records, that camera, radio, even the furniture dates back to that time. All these photos are from that time and what we have today is the evolution of that moment.

THE PRICE BE COOL

[Raja] We maintain the quality of a fair price. There’s no reason to profit in an irresponsible way or to hurt your clientele. How do you get the cool people in here? By giving them a price that is cool for them.

YA GOT TO COORDINATE

[Raja] The color combination is a no-brainer. There’s a strong contrast between the black and red [on the ceiling and walls). The black has been swallowed by color and pictures so it actually looks like a void. Red is a very passionate color that represents that We are the People, basically. But we are still adding more.

PETER ADARKWAH | photo by ACCRA [dot] ALT

WAX SELECTA

[Kofi] We had Peter Adarkwah (founder of BBE Records) on opening night to play. Our intention is to have our own vibe more and more – we want to invite DJs who can come and add to The Republic and its future. We play the best of world music is what I should say.  The plan is to get some cool DJs on board.

[Raja] Jason Kleatsh is our resident DJ. He’s got a good inventory of music that we play out and people are really loving it.

[Kofi] Every day’s like my birthday at the pub.

[Raja] I could say the same.

THE REPUBLIC PATIO | photo provided by The Republic

MIDAS TOUCH

[Raja] Already people are coming with proposals to franchise.  Me personally, I think you lose the essence. This is supposed to be a small chill place…it’s supposed to be laidback.

[Kofi] A lot of people have expressed that this is different from any place they have seen in Accra. That’s one thing I really appreciate about this place.  It’s been good so far.

MIXED PRINTS | photo by ACCRA [dot] ALT

[Raja] The response has been really encouraging. People like the place. We were actually taken aback, we were not expecting this much of a response. It makes us happy, it’s very, very encouraging. Just a little attention to detail – people take notice of it. Different people love different things about the place.  Some people walk in here and don’t notice something here and someone else walks in and says ‘I can completely resonate with that.’

The Republic Bar + Grill | @TheRepublicGH | 024 631 4044

*All Photos in this article must be credited to ACCRA [dot] ALT unless otherwise indicated.

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BUKI AKIB: Go Big or Go Home

FELA KUTI IN LONDON, 1989

Nigerian fashion designer Buki Akib knows how to get your attention and keep it. Her latest collections – FELA and Wives – is just what it sounds like. Enter the wonderful, magical world of Akib’s head as she cuts and tweaks life in The Shrine + Kalakuta Republic into luxurious fabrics and a hypnotic chorus of color. Akib is a master storyteller, spinning webs of waterfall patterns, heavy bold lines, and cool geometric motifs with interwoven yarn into handbags and men’s clothing.

Akib’s eye-catching designs caused a “reading” to go down between folks on our FB page last week testing the elasticity between artistic license and historical accuracy. The question was posed, Would Fela actually wear Akib’s collection? The argument pointed out that the sheer bulk of Akib’s work would not be ideal in a tropical climate and as Fela got older he eschewed western dress in favor of little to no clothing.

But who knows? Let the dialogue rip. Peep Buki Akib’s inspired designs below and how she describes her conceptual process for the Fela 2011 and Wives S/S 2012 collections:

NAIJA IN THE BLDG: “The FELA collection is ‘Quintessentially Nigerian’ which constitutes beautiful bright shiny colours, heavy texture and outlandish silhouettes which represents true Africanism.”

AFROPOP NOSTALGIA: “The way Fela’s music spoke to me with such authority and excitement is the way I want my collection to speak to people.”

THE GENTLEMEN BAG (2012)

THE GENTLEMEN BAG (2012)

INSPIRATION: “There is no other way to capture the essence of Lagos but through this collection – the classic fixtures of colonial houses engaging with the hustle of Lagos city life, to the vibrant juxtaposed markets scattered on top of each other. Growing up in the city was an introduction to fashion itself.”

HEATWAVE: “A mixture of colours such as orange cotton and purple silk yarns with dusty bronze lurex were an obvious palette as a back drop of the heat and sweat of the Lagos music scene.”

LOOKBOOK: “unconventional and luxurious fabrics…bold high waisted trousers, extravagant knitted swimming trunks and virile trousers”

WIVES COLLECTION S/S 2012

27 QUEENS: “My fascination on Fela’s wives grew into an admiration of their lustrous world inside the shrine. I interpret their beauty and sexuality as a form of empowerment.”

FELA FEMINISM: “There was more to Fela then just having 27 wives; he gave them a sense of identity in a society that made them invisible.”

THE WIVES COLLECTION:A world of queens, sirens and seductive silhouettes. A celebration of female sensuality and identity.”

There Were 27: Fela’s Queen Science

FELA KUTI + THE QUEENS

The revival of interest in FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI has immortalized the musician as a global pop culture icon. In fact, Fela’s personal life was just as fascinating as his AfroBeat music.

Fela just didn’t give a damn. He lived his life.

In 1978, Fela married 27 women in a ceremony to recognize the one-year anniversary of the attack on his Kalakuta Republic compound by the Nigerian military. Many of Fela’s new wives were his Africa ’70 bandmates – dancers, singers and composers – who lived and traveled with him. After the wedding, the group honeymooned in Ghana. (SIDE NOTE: 1978 is the same year Fela was banned from Ghana for being “liable to cause a breach of the peace.” The order was issued to Fela because youth fans confronted police at an Accra concert when “Zombie” began to play.)

Fela called his wives “Queens” explaining that these “women have special powers to see the future – to see front and back. Important people always have them around…they advise me what to do” (Music is a Weapon, 1982). After serving a 27-month jail term on a trumped-up charge for currency smuggling in 1986, Fela divorced his remaining 12 wives musing that “marriage brings jealousy and selfishness…no man has the right to own a woman’s vagina.”

Meanwhile Fela’s ex-wives have been quiet as kept about life in Kalakuta Republic. What speaks volumes, however, is the undeniable style, spirit swag and fierce personality these women had each in a distinct way.

AfroPop nostalgia in full effect. Check out these fresh photos of Fela’s Queens:

ANBULEY’S Abracadabra

Ghanaian-Austrian singer ANBULEY has the European beat blogs sipping her blueberry kool-aid. The singer has been conjuring dance floor magic with her Afro-Electronica anthems over the past couple of years. Vintage soul, pop vigor, gutter funk, and electric purple synths make a sweet brew.

Blending the old school Ga she learned from her grandmother and the European dance music she grew up with on the club scene, Anbuley’s hot kelewele jams will keep you in a good sweat. In addition to music and dance, (peep her quick-footed shuffle in Kemo’ Yoo Keke) Anbuley is also a damn beautiful performance artist.

Check out Anbuley’s iconography below along with excerpts from an interview with Marflix of Tropical Bass earlier this year:

I am born in Vienna. My father is from Ghana and went to Vienna to study. We moved to Ghana when I was four years old and stayed there another five years. It didn’t work out in Ghana as planned and we came back to Vienna.

I have always been Ghanaian and I also grew up in that mindstate. I had no Austrian passport that time because our plan was to go back to Ghana. Later when it became clear that we stay in Vienna I became Austrian citizen.

Anbuley x Isabella Meus

For me it is kinda funny because I was Ghanaian most of the time, but not all the time and also I am born in Vienna. Basically it doesn’t matter, I am both and I enjoy both sides – I feel generously gifted. On the other hand I would never call myself a Viennese – even if I talk Vienna slang. I look like a Ghanaian and perhaps I’m Afro-Viennese – but people wouldn’t understand that anyway.

Anbuley x Isabella Meus

The track ‘Kemo’ Yoo Keke’ – just say yes – is about oppression. You often meet people in your life who want you to say yes to everything. The lyrics are about a man who tried to oppress me, what an idiot.

That’s why I don’t want to explain it anymore. If people want to see me as Viennese, okay then – but I do not feel like that. In Ghana are my roots, my mother and my father are Ghanaian.

Anbuley x Isabella Meus

I sing about topics which move me and occupy my mind – that could be also fashion or shoes, not necessarily big issues.

You can’t make music if you don’t feel like that, people will hear it when it’s faked. Look at me – I am a stranger at first glance, that’s why I don’t feel like home.

Anbuley x Isabella Meus

I’m born into the European club music, so I am both – and doing Ghanaian music wouldn’t be me. I fly to Ghana soon and I hope to meet many people there.

In the end it must happen spontaneous, cause I can only work with people I like, and that can’t be planned.

GATO PRETO: Tropical Bass BeatDown

GATO PRETO: LEE BASS + CARMEN BROWN

GATO PRETO is one black cat you won’t mind crossing paths.

Their masked mystique is the music – a tropical bass thunderstorm of candy rain and sound clouds. The duo – producer Lee Bass and rapper/singer Carmen Brown aka Gata Misteriosa – unveil the African music paradise reflecting their roots in the polyrhythm of Bass’ Ghana and the Portuguese slang of Brown’s Mozambique. Brown also grew into her rhyme scheme on the Portugal club scene. She told Funkhauseuropa in July, “It’s very important in music that you have the freedom to express yourself and find your own language.”

Such freedom reaps a hypersonic wave – a mix of old skool sweet/ thick R+B synths; delicate Highlife strings; infectious 80’s video game pop rock; back bending Miami bass; and an ATL freaknik beat parade with hi-def kicks of kuduro.

Download the “Voodoo Drums Mixtape” for free:

Based in Germany, Brown shares about Gato Preto’s sound: “We are saying something about bad systems, corruption, things are not really working in this world so we just want to speak it out. The other point is we want to dance. A lot!”

For more, check out GATO PRETO’s flava in “Tschukudu”:

ANDREW ASHONG x THEO PARRISH: Fresh “Flowers”

Ghanaian Londoner, Andrew Ashong, delivers this cut, “Flowers,” fresh and straight to your front door. Matter fact, dude’s ringing your doorbell. Ashong teamed up with house master, Theo Parrish, on this free downloadable EP.

“Flowers” is an almost 9-minute masquerade parade slowed down with spring chords and a black and blue bass into a circular, two-step dub jam.

That’s chief. Listening to this song on repeat is like riding the handlebars of a superbly tricked out bike.

Shout out to @SanSedj for the link. Dig this garden. “Flowers,” Chale.