There are some debut albums that you hear and instantly know the artist behind them is something special. The incredible, genre-bending The Angel You Don’t Know is one; its arrival late last year announced Amaarae as a talent on the rise. Though her hometown is New York (the Bronx, if you want to get specific), Amaarae now lives in Accra, Ghana, and is a leading light in the alté scene. Her dextrous lyrics are accompanied by the afrobeats of her home as well as the euphoria of Top 40 pop, the sensual vibe of RnB and the laid back attitude of someone who knows exactly what she’s doing, both in front of the mic and behind it.
This self-assured attitude is paying off, with billboards in Times Square, rave reviews and a host of rising star awards now adorning Amaarae’s mantle. With African sounds writ large across her work, she’s turning her passion for music into passion for developing Africa’s next generation, through her ambition to launch the Oseiwaa Angels Foundation with the Dazed100 grant. An oseiwaa is, loosely, a warrior queen - a leader of great courage - and the foundation aims to help create an army of them. It’s focus will be on working with young women in the visual and musical arts to elevate the African Consciousness and create space for West African women in the creative industries. “All the diamonds in the world don’t outshine me,” she sings on the glorious “LEAVE ME ALONE”. She’s not wrong.
Text Kate Solomon