The name E.L brings many things to mind. Talk of the audacious Best African Rapper (BA.R), with over five critically acclaimed studio albums in his arsenal and the godfather behind Ghana’s most viral music export, Azonto.
Born Elom Adablah, E.L’s catalogue appeals to a wide audience from millennials who enjoyed Ghana’s prime Y2K era to today’s hypercharged GenZs who use his productions like “U Go Kill Me” for their dance challenges.
After a decade-plus in the music scene, E.L. keeps proving he is one of the finest rappers to emerge from the African continent; recently dishing out a 7-track Azonto-inspired EP titled “The Teacher.“
E.L’s fashion style is pretty simple and laid back but at the same time, he playfully dips his feet into the world of extra. Just like E.L’s music, his sense of fashion from music videos to the red carpet never fails to bring his fans in.
In a conversation with E.L, the godfather of Azonto, we delved into his thoughts about the sub-genre, his music life and what makes his fashion world tick.
MA: What does being an artist mean to you?
E.L: It is a blessing! A true artist is a gift from God. It can also be a burden because being an artist sometimes means being misunderstood most of the time, but at the same time, it gives you a great avenue to express yourself.
MA: Was your break from music intentional?
E.L: It was just time for me to focus on myself and also focus on other interests that I have. I don’t do only music; I am interested in other things. So I had to take a step back from all the things that come with being in the limelight. I’ll say it was a bit of both sides.
MA: Coming back, what has your experience been like?
E.L: We dropped an EP and went on a road tour. We did a few cities, so it’s been great so far. It’s been a gradual process. I don’t want to take it all in too quickly. My team and I, have been working very steadily.
MA: How do you deal with creative blocks?
E.L: I change locations a lot. I try and find inspiration in different experiences, you can only experience so much in the same space so I am trying to make sure that I am constantly moving. They said that rolling stone gathers no moss. So the way I stay away from blocks is to change locations and change sceneries, change my environments and seek out different types and sources of inspiration.
MA: What are your thoughts on the role of social media in an artist’s career?
E.L: It’s important, I mean it has opened huge avenues for artists to be able to reach audiences from all over the world. So, I think it’s definitely an asset for creatives to utilize. We all know how impactful social media has been, so we all take advantage of it and use it to our different capabilities. It’s been great for artists and a major development for the industry.
MA: How do music and fashion relate to you?
E.L: Music is fashionable, you know they go hand in hand. Fashion is expressing yourself visually, what you identify with as an individual and how you express that outwardly to the rest of the world and I think it relates directly to the music scene as well. It’s all about creativity and individuality. So I think being an expressive person or a musician, fashion definitely comes into the picture.
MA: How would you define your personal style?
E.L: I’m very liberal when it comes to fashion but as I’ve grown and matured over the years, I try and keep it as simple as I can because I don’t want too many things weighing me down. So I try and make sure that I keep it as simple and as plain as possible.
Also, it depends on the time. If it’s a day thing, I try and keep it very loose, especially in Ghana where it’s really hot. You don’t want to be wearing many layers during the day. At night you might want to spice it up a little bit. I am very liberal and very loose when it comes to fashion.
MA: How do you use fashion to promote your music?
E.L: Depending on what type of promotion we are looking at, I try and make different statements with my fashion. If I am going for shocking, it might be a little colourful. If I am not going for something shocking, I might go for something which is a little bit more watered down, a little bit more plain. I don’t really look at what’s going on around me and try and emulate because that defeats the purpose of fashion, I think fashion has to be individualistic, It has to be personal, so I just go with my personal flow and depending on how I feel at the time we go with that.
MA: What are some of your fashion must-haves?
E.L: I always go with the hat, like since the day of my career I have always loved my caps, you know different types of hats, I don’t really discriminate with my bandanas and durags, those are a definitely must-have for me. I like chains and I like rings as well, so accessories of different sorts. I also love my Vans. Ever since my first pair, I said to myself I am going to have these on my feet forever. I always go for comfort.
MA: What are some of your favourite fashion designers or brands in Ghana?
E.L: I have come in contact with a lot but none of them has really stuck to me. I have had the pleasure of working with different designers over the years so I can’t really pick a favourite because it keeps changing but honestly, if you ask me top of my head, I couldn’t mention a favourite. I mostly work with tailors a lot, I am currently working with this young talent, his brand name is Alpha Costume. He has a great sense of style, and he is doing very well.
MA: What is your dream fashion collaboration?
E.L: I would have loved to work with Virgil Abloh before he passed away. Yeah, I think I identified with his style a lot, so that would have been dope. Besides that, I think I would work well with a few designers out there and I do love Studio 189, a Ghanaian brand based in New York. I have actually worked with them so they are people I dream of working with again.
MA: How has your fashion sense evolved over time?
E.L: I remember when Joey, Pappy Kojo and I were recording “All Black.” I think it was around 2017 or even earlier. It was all about skinny jeans and tight tops but now things have changed. So I evolve with the times but I try to put my spinoff to what the new fashion is and I am inventive myself. There is a lot that goes on in that department, there is not really one stream or one way of doing things but I try and keep it fresh and clean.
MA: What is the most expensive jewellery you own?
E.L: I keep it pretty simple; I don’t really invest too much into expensive jewellery. My biggest piece of jewellery is a Fossil stainless steel watch that I bought a while ago in South Africa, which cost me more than I usually spend on accessories and stuff.
MA: What are your favourite ways to relax and unwind?
E.L: A glass of orange juice by the poolside, spend time with my family physically if I can or in the studio just vibing with friends.
MA: If you had more time each day, what would you do with it?
E.L: I will invest it in my work. The more work I can do the more value I can add and the more money I can make. I will probably take up a lot more work than I have on my plate right now.
MA: What was the inspiration behind your current EP?
E.L: It was just to represent the Azonto music. Nobody is doing it and I am always the guy who goes left when everyone wants to go right because I don’t do what everybody else is doing. It was just to show love for Azonto music because I was part of its conception and its growth.
MA: What should we expect from EL in the coming months? Is the BAR concert coming back anytime soon?
E.L: Yes we are planning it. Definitely for the next few months. It’s just a matter of time. So yeah, it’s going to happen, Also expect more music and more vibes from EL.
By: Thelma Anowaa.
A Fashion and Lifestyle Writer from Ghana, West Africa. Always had a dream of becoming a Public Relations practitioner but somehow her hobby turned into an exciting journey filled with experiences in creative writing, content managing, and copywriting.