Recording artist Fuse ODG sat down with Luc Belaire CEO Brett Berish as part of Belaire’s video series Self Made Tastes Better.
Born in London and raised in Ghana, Fuse is the first Ghanaian to win a Grammy for his contributions to Ed Sheeran‘s Divide album, and is a passionate campaigner against outdated perceptions of Africa. He shares his experience of the new realities of the world’s second largest continent in this exclusive interview.
In under 30 minutes the Afrobeats trailblazer touches on starting his own music festival in Ghana, building a school with Ed Sheeran and even children’s toys and books he has created to celebrate his cultural roots and connect with the international community.
His vision of Africa is one of amazing progress, far removed from the usual stereotypes seen in the media. Fuse ODG’s Africa is one of “many opportunities” and “successful Africans…who are millionaires, (and) billionaires” – the reality of a continent encompassing 54 countries and 11.6 million square miles in which life is becoming more peaceful and prosperous.
From his first hit, “Azonto” (“one of the most viral songs in Africa”) to new music, Fuse embodies the vitality and excitement that is oozing from a New African Nation.
Top Interview Takeaways
Embracing the term African to describe all black people
Brett: If you were meeting somebody in the U.S, what would you want them to call themselves?
Fuse: If they’re black, African, before even black. The term black doesn’t really make sense, it just doesn’t. We’re brown. But I would say African more than anything. The term black disassociates African Americans from Africa. Because you know when something happens in New York, one of our people gets killed or whatever, there’s a protest, we say “black lives matter”. But when something happens in Mozambique, currently there’s a lot of our people dying in Mozambique, all of a sudden it’s not “black lives matter.” But if it was African lives matter, it covers all of us.
Millionaires in Africa
There’s so many opportunities over there, you can make money. I know successful Africans in Africa who are millionaires, billionaires, own crazy houses…this is the new Africa. And this is how my movement was born. I saw a whole new Africa that the media was not showing.
The global success of his single Azonto, and the impact on Afrobeats
As soon as we put it up, people from Australia put up their own video, Paris. It just went crazy. It’s probably one of the most viral songs in Africa…It was an exciting time and it really did a lot for Afrobeats.
African poverty equaling American poverty
The same poverty that’s in Africa is the same poverty that’s in America. I’ve been to L.A, I’ve been to Crenshaw. I’ve been to all these hoods in America and I see poverty there too. But America does not choose to showcase that when they’re speaking to the world.
Ed Sheeran is helping him build a school in Ghana
So he came, we linked up together in Ghana, spent a week together and that’s when I got to understand him. He’s just a free person who just loves good vibes. And he loved the energy of Ghana. He loved our food, loved the music – I introduced him to a couple of artists over there. I took him to the school. He loved the school, he loved the idea that it started as an orphanage, then it turned into a primary school and it’s a school that’s free for the whole community to come. So these disadvantaged kids who usually can’t afford education now have a chance for an education. So straight away he contributed to us buying buses and building a bridge that connected the community to the school….To this day we’re still working on the school together.