For those planning to visit Amsterdam anytime soon, there is no need for a Lonely Planet guide. Just have a listen to Papa Ghana’s new track ‘Damsco’ (slang for ‘Amsterdam’) which he just released. In case you don’t speak any Dutch (slang): the ‘Damsco’ lyrics read as an ode to the city. The track starts off with Papa Ghana paying his respect to the city’s biggest folk singers, but soon goes on to sum up what’s typical for ‘Damsco’: fare beating in the tram, hipsters in the ‘negen straatjes’ (‘nine streets’, a hip — yes — part of town), an arrogant attitude displayed by “Amsterdammers” (according to the rest of the country), and of course football club Ajax.
Papa Ghana, whose real name is Jefferson Osei, is a rather interesting new name in the Dutch Hip-Hop scene. Just last year, the member of L’Afrique Som Systeme collective released his first EP called ‘Mandingo’ featuring his single ‘I’m an African’.
He calls his music, which one would describe as dub and electro, as ‘diaspora beat’. “It’s a mix of all kinds of music genres…[It is] something I named myself, because it is music from different cultures all mixed into one,” Papa Ghana explained to me last year in an interview for RNW’s programme Bridges with Africa. Per usual, any musician who claims to have ‘invented’ a new genre, I’d take with a grain of salt. But on ‘Damsco’ Papa Ghana proves that he at least represents the second-generation immigrants — the slang is largely based on Sranangtogo (the Surinamese language) and he even raps in Arabic on a track. What I love about those songs is how he uses present-day urban culture and slang to pay tribute to the more ‘traditional’ culture of the city.
And like any self-respecting rapper these days, Papa Ghana also has his own clothing line called ‘Daily Paper Clothing’.