Linford Kennedy Amankwaa known by his stage name as Ko-Jo Cue is not a new name in the Ghanaian music space even though he has been away for a couple of months taking a break from the internet and the music world.
Ko-Jo Cue is known for creating timeless and relatable songs that tell the honest story of most young adults forging an emotional connection with them. He has a couple of singles, mixtapes, EP, and albums under his belt, which were well received by his audience but one project that caught the attention of many people was the “For my Brothers” album.
The album is a timeless body of work. The rapper hammers on key youthful themes like vulnerability, financial sustainability, etc. making it easier for his audience to relate with him as a young man not just as a “celebrity”.
He is one of those artists, whose sound and personal style perfectly intertwine, communicating to his audience not just with his voice but his fashion style as well. His fashion style gives off a simple and calm vibe, a look that perfectly matches his sound and lyrics.
Ko-Jo Cue’s personality is no different from his songs. He is such an open book and a delight to talk to almost like that old friend you haven’t chatted with in a while. Regardless of who you are, it doesn’t take long to realize that there is a lot to talk about with him.
In this interview, we delve into the rapper’s life, art, business and upcoming projects.
MA: You went away for a while, what kept you away?
Ko-Jo Cue: It was an intentional decision to disconnect from social media. One, I wanted to replenish my energy and recharge. Two, because I also realized that social media was becoming sort of an echo chamber where I’m just hearing all these views that are similar and the same but whenever I meet or sit with real people off social media the story was different.
I make music about real life so I need to understand what’s really happening outside as much as possible. And I needed the break to also live life a little and it was supposed to be just for a month but that one month was so peaceful so I decided I wasn’t going to come back until I had something to offer.
MA: So what activities were you engaging in during your break from social media?
Ko-Jo Cue: Reading! And I did a little gardening; I grew tomatoes, okro and watermelon. That whole experience changed my worldview. Right now my philosophy is water and plants. I also did some work at the back end of the music business, I have a music marketing company business with a group of friends so this year I became more active with that. I also became the country manager for MusicSplit Ghana, which is like a music marketplace or stock market for music.
MA: How do you deal with the outside noise?
Ko-Jo Cue: Personally, I like taking a break but also keeping a group of people around me that I know want the best for me and are deeply rooted in real life that they will always keep it real with me, you know just as my filter to bounce off ideas or to run everything by, for me that’s how I mostly deal with it but if you are on social media all the time certain things are hard to escape.
MA: Coming back into the music scene how do you feel?
Ko-Jo Cue: It feels great because music is what I love to do and it also feels even more amazing because people actually waited for me and people still want to hear from me. The music business right now is so fast that if you miss like two or three months and you come back it’s like nobody has any memory that you were around. So it’s crazy to me that people still care as much as they do. I just feel like the universe has blessed me so much and I’m just happy to be back.
MA: Tell us about your personal fashion style and how it relates to your brand as an artist?
Ko-Jo Cue: For me, comfort is like number one, I like stuff that I would feel comfortable in, like T-shirts especially ones that don’t have too much happening but with something cool in the front and when I turn around you see all the craziness at the back. I like tracks and I just found out that I like shorts too.
I am a Canvas and Adidas kind of guy. I am like an everyday guy; I don’t like to do too much and I don’t want people to point and be like hey this guy is a rapper; I just want to look like an everyday person who likes to look good.
And yeah, I think my fashion style is a good reflection of my sound because I do music about the everyday guy, my music is super relatable to ordinary people even when they are doing extraordinary things. So I think is a proper reflection of myself.
MA: How did you find yourself wearing a jacket by Studio Kojo Kusi for Project Kumasi?
Ko-Jo Cue: So one of my new goals is to support Ghanaian businesses across the board so it was just me buying the project Kumasi shirt also because I am from Kumasi and using it to bring attention to what they are doing. I am actually a fan of Kojo Kusi, I think I own 3 different pieces from Studio Kojo Kusi but the jacket was intentionally done to bring attention to Project Kumasi and Kojo Kusi. Moving forward I am sure you will see me wearing other Ghanaian designers as well.
MA: How did you become a beanie fan and how many do you own so far?
Ko-Jo Cue: I just wanted something different and it feels so hip-hop. I also don’t like cutting my hair a lot but I know I don’t want to do dreadlocks either. So I feel beanies can be the perfect addition to look different. Moreso, I love wearing them. At the moment I do not own that much. I think I have maybe 5 beanies but I keep buying them so I can have one of every color just to switch it from time to time.
MA: Who is your favorite designer or brand?
Ko-Jo Cue: This will be hard to pick because I love all of them, I love Tribe of God, Fear No Man, Studio Kojo Kusi, and yeah I have a whole list of them. I am actively trying to support so once you are like a Ghanaian designer I will definitely look for a piece that you have that I love from you and support you in that way.
MA: Who is your style icon?
Ko-Jo Cue: I don’t know if I have one but I think Pappy Kojo always looks cool and I think Joey B has a unique style. Even though those are not my style, they still look super cool but right now I don’t have a specific person to call my style icon.
MA: What is your favorite fashion accessory?
Ko-Jo Cue: At the moment it’s probably a ring I recently got. It’s super cool. I feel like jewellery especially enhances whatever it is you are wearing. You can wear the most basic stuff and when you put a chain on and some rings on your finger, you create a super cool look.
MA: What fashion accessories don’t you leave the house without?
Ko-Jo Cue: The beanie, the ring and probably my wristwatch.
MA: Tell us three things you don’t leave the house without.
Ko-Jo Cue: Obviously my glasses because I can’t see without them, my wallet and my phone.
MA: Do you like to listen to podcasts? Tell us your favorite Ghanaian podcast
Ko-Jo Cue: Yeah I do, at the moment it really is a toss-up between “If More Let’s Divide” and “Sunday Fufu” podcasts.
MA: Tell us four things you love to do for fun.
Ko-Jo Cue: Watch football. I actually support Asante Kotoko, Barcelona FC and Manchester United. Play video games. Reading, I like to read everything from self-help books to fiction.
My favorite writer is Stephen King; I even named one of my projects after his book “The Shining” and lately I have been reading a lot of Ghanaian poetry as well.
I like cooking, I think I would kill any stew and my Jollof skill is so up. Cooking is super calming and keeps my mind active as well.
MA: How would you describe your musical style?
Ko-Jo Cue: For me, I would describe it as real life. When I make music, it is like writing in my journal but over beats and then just because I live such an ordinary life most of the time other people can also relate. So it is just hip-hop music about real life or rap music about real life. It is hard for me to make up stuff. I have to pull from a real situation.
MA: What is your go-to song at the moment and why is it special to you?
Ko-Jo Cue: Well it depends on how I am feeling, but lately I have been listening to Baaba J’s Wonderful a lot. It’s such a well-written and beautiful song. Same for Kwaku Smoke’s Mayesha. At the moment, I can say these two but it changes from time to time. I listen to all types of music. I listen to music the way I read. Once I see or hear something interesting I check it out.
MA: Which artist would you love to work with at the moment and why?
Ko-Jo Cue: I would love to work with Baaba J., I am such a big fan of her work. I would love to also work with Black Sherif because I feel like we cater to a similar audience and we have the same soul when it comes to the way we make music. We would make something beautiful if we came together. King Promise as well. Usually when the song comes and is calling to somebody then I am directed there but at the moment definitely, Baaba J, Black Sherif and King Promise are on the list.
MA: Which of your songs is your favorite?
Ko-Jo Cue: If I say my favorite song I have made then it hasn’t come out yet but out of the ones that are out my favorite is “Tsioo Benke Mi” ft Ayisi (AI). It was just a fun song, I just love the song and I can’t even tell you why exactly. Everything about the song is super amazing and what Ayisi did on it was also super amazing.
MA: Tell us about your current single “Free Throw” and the process of making the record.
Ko-Jo Cue: So I don’t even like to call it a single, it’s like a moment in time if I could tweet with a beat behind it, like a very long tweet or thread with a beat. With the inspiration I am sure I was watching an interview on 3music or something and they were speaking about something and those views started coming. I wrote the ideas down and called my producer and told him I was looking for a certain type of beat, I described it and he sent me three different beats, so when I heard this one I said this is the one. So I recorded it, sent it to him and he did the rest.
Free Throw”, the first track off Cue’s highly anticipated album, “I’m Back” B, is a celebration of winning in the face of fierce opposition. It is a testament to Ko-Jo Cue’s technical ability and his passion for hip-hop. The track likens his wins to free throws, acknowledging how easy success comes to him while rubbing it in the faces of naysayers. Produced by Fortune Dane, the song’s trap bounce is sure to get listeners moving.
MA: What is the next big thing to expect from you?
Ko-Jo Cue: So I have an EP dropping in October just because I have been away for so long since my album is not ready yet. I feel like giving something for my fans to hold on to. Right after that, I am hoping to do a “For My Brothers” concert just to close the chapter. So yeah those are the two major things that I have before the year ends.
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.