4 May

The following is an interview I conducted with the musical group IKONZ this past weekend (May 2011):

When you turn on the radio, the airwaves are blasting the new hit by IKONZ, “Back Case (remix)”. I recently had a pleasant conversation with the founders of IKONZ, discussing the making of IKONZ and the future plans of IKONZ.
1. Where are you from:
Lyrikal Monxta a.k.a Kweku Abojwis3 & Qweku Zixu: We both represent Tema, Ghana.
2. How many siblings do you have?
Lyrikal Monxta: I have 6 brothers and 6 sisters. I am the sixth boy.
Qweku Zixu: I am the first born out of three kids- I have 2 junior sisters.
3. How did you get into music:
I (Qweku Zixu) started really focusing on music in junior high.  I joined a group called Born Black— we were 4 in all.  There was a time when I was singing at a studio called One Blaze Studios in Community One-Tema. The engineer encouraged me to join forces with Lyrikal, and vice versa. We came together around 2004-2005, formed the group Kasapa, and the rest is history.
4. Did you guys sing in your church, play instruments?
            No—we are rappers.
Qweku Zixu: Right now I am learning how to play the guitar.
Lyrikal Monxta—Right now I am learning how to play the piano.
5. Originally your name was Kasapa—why did you change the name?
Yes, originally our name was Kasapa. When we came out as Kasapa and we were becoming known throughout Ghana and other regions of Africa, the name we had chosen for ourselves came into conflict with a telecommunications company in Ghana which went by the same name. In Ghana, you have different telecommunication companies, such as Kasapa, MTN, and others. Kasapa, the telecommunications company, was not happy that there was a group using what they felt was their by-right name. The name was creating confusion. Also, when we were invited to perform at concerts which were sponsored by MTN and other telecommunications entities, we would not be given the proper introduction, because the sponsors felt that we were representing Kasapa, a competitor. Without a proper introduction, the audience was unaware of our personalities and what we represented. Therefore we decided to change our name to Ikonz. And now, Kasapa, the company, has been acquired by Expresso, so they have a new name as well.
6. How did you choose the name Ikonz?
When we decided it was time to change our name from Kasapa to something else, we had a few names in mind and presented them to our fans via social media, like Facebook. The fans decided that they liked the name Ikonz the best. The name” Ikonz” is the presentation of music. It encompasses everything and the belief we have in ourselves that we are music icons. The Z at the end of Ikonz was placed there to spice up the name a bit – and to recognize our music mentors, like Jay Z.
7. Who do you look up to, musically?
Qweku Zixu- Little Wayne
Lyrikal Monxta—Snoop Dogg.
8. What was your first album with Kasapa and your first number one hit?
When we were known as the group Kasapa, we never came out with an album. Instead we released singles. The first song we released, “Wobe Nyem No”, was a hit song. We wrote that song ourselves, we did not feature anyone, and the beat was created by Mob Possigee.
9. Do you write songs for other artists? If so, who ?
Right now, we write for underground artists, like Mafia, Rhythm, Reb Joe, and
10. As artists, how do you stand out from others? There are so many musicians in Ghana- what makes you unique?
We don’t have one style we present. We sing a variety of music in different styles – we hit all the genres of music- from hip hop to dancehall. Lyrikal has the gift of singing in various vocal tones, and he likes to rap and sing in English and Twi. Physically, Lyrikal has the beard and mustache and he is popularly known as “Kweku Abojwis3”. Qweku Zixu likes to mix his vocal styles by singing in Fanti and English and rapping. Qweku Zixu does the controversial lyrics. Plus he is very good at dance hall.
11. How do you create songs?
Music is based on the environment. Yes there are times when we sit down together, with the intention of creating and writing a song. However, we also read books, watch movies, listen to our friends discuss their issues in life—everyday life is what inspires us in terms of our music.
12. How does Africa receive your music? What makes people connect to your music?
Africa has received our music very very well. We have a single called “Party Rida”, which is doing well in several regions of Africa.  It is doing very well in Cameroon and the video is being played on Channel 4 in South Africa- so yes, our music is being received quite well across the continent. Outside of the continent of Africa, our song “Lose Control” is doing quite well in the United Kingdom.
We think people connect to our music because we don’t follow trends. If there is a style of music that is hot, we don’t make music in that same style just because it is hot during that moment of time. We do not follow trends- we just make music.
13. How has music changed since you were a kid, in terms of beats, lyrics, and composition?
Over time, music has changed significantly. Now the music contains more beats and instrumentals, making the music sound better. In terms of access, social networks like Facebook are helping musicians get their music across borders. We definitely believe that music is changing for the better.
14. When will IKONZ release an album?
We plan on releasing an album sometime this year, hopefully around August 2011.  The album will have 12 tracks and will be entitled, “Tema Nightmare: Mission I”.
15. How were you able to get collaborations with big time performers like Sarkodie and Ruff and Smooth?
Sarkodie was Qweku Zixu’s junior classmate at Tema Methodist Day High School, so we have all known him for a while. Ruff and Smooth have been friends of the family, so we have known them for a while as well. We are very appreciative of all the artists we collaborate with.
16. Let’s pick one song—Back Case—what is that song about?
Back case is about lifestyles. In life we get so caught up in other people’s business. The song “Back Case” is about focusing on yourself and minding your own business.
17. Have you started making videos for your upcoming album?
Yes, in fact, this Friday (May 6, 2011), we will be shooting the video for “Back Case (Remix)”. It will be an All Star video shoot with Trigmatic, Captain Planet, Okra Tom Dawidi, Sarkodie, Stonebwoy Burniton, Guru, Bra Kevin Beats, Tipaeley Brothers and all Tema Stars.  We will be filming the video in Accra, around Cantoments- and we expect it to be a fun and exciting shoot.
18. A year from now, should I expect to see you at the Ghana Music Awards?
Absolutely!! We hope to be nominated for best collaboration and best video.
********       ******
IKONZ is a musical group in Ghana, consisting of two members, Qweku  Zixu and Lyrikal. Their latest track, “Back Case” has been released and they have several more mind-blowing tracks that will be released in the near future. Keep your ears open for the IKONZ sound.


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