The UK music scene has produced a lot of superstars many of which aren’t originally from the UK. The country’s capital city, London is recognized as one of the world’s most cosmopolitan and culturally diverse cities. With a population of over 8.9 million, London is home to more than 300 languages and over 270 nationalities. It comes as no surprise that out of 10 musicians in the UK, 2 are originally from a different country.
Today we talk about 10 UK Musicians originally from Ghana.
Multiple award-winning rapper Stormzy was born on 26th July 1993 to Ghanaian parents Michael Omari Sr and Abigail Owuo. The 29-year-old musician originally known as Michael Ebenezer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr grew up in South Norwood, London where he attended Stanley Tech South Norwood. Rapping for him began at age 11. He entered into lyrical battles with older rappers at his local youth club. 2014 was a monumental year for Stormzy. He gained a bit of notoriety in the underground scene with the release of his Wicked Skengman series where he freestyles over classic grime beats. He followed it up with the independent release of his debut EP Dreamers Disease in July 2014 and in October, he won Best Grime Act at the MOBO Awards. Stormzy has collaborated with Ghanaian musicians such as Yaw Tog, Amaarae, and Black Sherif.
2. Sway DaSafo:
Before shortening his name to Sway, British rapper and producer of Ghanaian descent Derek Andrew Safo was known in the music world as Sway DaSafo.
He was born in Hornsey, North London on 5th September 1982 to Ghanaian parents Beatrice and Alhaji. For his secondary education, he attended Campsbourne Junior School and later advanced to Highgate Wood Secondary School, where he would dedicate the majority of his lunchtime breaks to learning how to produce music in the school’s ‘backroom’ music facility.
Sway released his debut album ‘This Is My Demo’ in 2006. ‘On My Own’ is a standout track from the body of work. In 2008, he dropped a song titled ‘Black Stars’. The song praises Ghanaians doing amazing things in the diaspora. Sway has worked with Ghanaian rappers Sarkodie and Edem.
Born on 3rd February 1985, Ian Greenidge, known worldwide as Donae’o, is of Ghanaian and Guyanese descent.
Donae’o did some of his schooling in Accra, Ghana where he attended Alsyd Academy in Dzorwulu. The musician who began his career in 2002 with his song Falling, became really popular in 2009 for his global banger ‘Party Hard’. Shockingly, it has just 3.2 million views on YouTube. In 2020, a remixed version of the song was released in conjunction with AFTV titled ‘Partey Hard’. The song celebrates his Ghanaian brother Thomas Partey’s move to Arsenal from Atlético Madrid. Donae’O has collaborated with Ghanaian rapper Sarkodie on multiple occasions.
4. Fuse ODG:
Nana Richard Abiona known better in the music world as Fuse ODG was born in London on 2nd December 1988. His formative years were spent in Ghana. He later moved back to the UK for his secondary education where he attended the Archbishop Lanfranc School in Croydon.
Fuse ODG’s stage name is a testament to his style of music as he is known for combining a number of musical styles to create a unique sound. The ODG in his name stands for ‘Off Da Ground’ which doubles as the name of his record label. In 2013, Fuse released his official debut single titled ‘Antenna’. The song peaked at number 7 and 85 on the UK singles chart and Irish singles chart respectively.
Later that year he dropped another smash hit ‘Azonto’. This kicked off one of the biggest dance crazes in the African Diaspora communities in the UK and the United States way before TikTok dance challenges ever existed. Azonto as a dance form or style of music was already popular in Ghana and some parts of West Africa but Fuse ODG is mainly credited for pushing the movement in the UK.
Fuse ODG has been recognized on several awards shows for his work. He’s won a MOBO, an MTV Africa Music and Ghana Music Awards just to name a few. He has collaborated with artistes like Sarkodie, Wyclef Jean and Major Lazer.
5. Kojo Funds:
Born on 30th March 1995 in London, Errol Kojo Bellot, professionally known as Kojo Funds is of mixed Ghanaian and Dominican heritage.
He was raised by his mother and grew up in East London. Kojo is considered to be the individual who coined the term Afroswing, a genre of music that developed in the UK during the mid-2010s that blends dancehall, Afrobeats, Grime, Hip-hop, trap and R&B. Throughout his career, he has had the opportunity to perform at big events such as Wireless Festival and Bestival. In 2017, he got nominated at the MOBO Awards for ‘Best Newcomer’. He has collaborated with artistes like Nigeria’s DJ Spinall and WizKid.
6. Headie One:
Born on 6th October 1994, Irving Ampofo Adjei, known professionally as Headie One, is of Ghanaian descent. Headie who grew up in Tottenham is credited as a pioneering innovator of the UK drill scene.
Before becoming a rapper, Headie was passionate about football. He played for Haringey Borough F.C, a local team in Tottenham. His dreams of becoming a professional footballer were shattered when he got an ankle injury. As a teenager, Headie began rapping but only took it seriously after his first release from prison. Operating under the name Headz, he released his first song in the early 2010s, and in 2014, he dropped a mixtape titled Headz or Tails. Fast forward to 2022, Headie One has collaborated with Stormzy, Drake, and Ghanaian artistes such as Smallgod, O’Kenneth, and Kwaku DMC.
7. Dizzee Rascal:
Dylan Kwabena Mills, better known by his stage name Dizzee Rascal, was born in London to a Nigerian father and a Ghanaian mother on 18th September 1984.
A pioneer of grime music, Dizzee attended a series of schools in East London. He was expelled from 4 of them due to his bad behavior. Dizzee used to fight his teachers. A teacher ended up calling him a rascal and the name stuck.
His mother who was a single parent at that time due to the death of his dad never gave up on him and wanted him to get an education. When he got to the 5th school, Dizzee was excluded from all classes except music. With the encouragement of his music teacher, he developed an interest in making music on the school’s computer. He also attended a music workshop organized by Tower Hamlets Summer University. At the moment, Dizzee has 7 albums under his belt and has collaborated with artistes like Shakira and Skepta.
8. Tinchy Stryder:
Kwasi Esono Danquah III known better in the music world as Tinchy Stryder was born in Accra, Ghana on 14th September 1986. His family moved to the UK in 1995.
He attended St Bonaventure’s Catholic School and obtain an Honours degree in Digital Arts, Moving Image, and Animation at the University of East London. Music began for him in 1997 when he was 11 years old. He just like Dizzee Rascal is a pioneer of Grime music. He got the name ‘Tinchy’ because of his tiny physique. He later added the Stryder, a name he got from a Japanese video game character called Strider Hiryū.
In 2001, Wiley founded the rap group called “Roll Deep”. The group consisted of a lot of rappers including Stryder and Dizzee Rascal. Tinchy has collaborated with artistes such as Fuse ODG and Taio Cruz.
9. Guvna B:
Isaac Borquaye known in the music industry as Guvna B was born to Ghanaian parents in London on 13th June 1989. He is a rapper, author, and broadcaster.
Throughout his music journey, he has released 10 albums. He attended the University of Hertfordshire where he studied business and journalism.
Strider HiryūGuvna has won 3 MOBO Awards for ‘Best Gospel Artist’ and 3 Urban Music Awards for ‘Best Gospel Act’. He has collaborated with artistes like Wretch 32, Andy Mineo, and Michelle Williams.
10. Lethal Bizzle:
Lethal Bizzle originally known as Maxwell Owusu Ansah was born on 14th September 1984 to Ghanaian parents.
He was a member of a rap group called the More Fire Crew. Their grime single “Oi!” made it to the top 10 of the UK Singles Chart. As a solo artiste, he released his debut studio album in 2005 titled ‘Against All Oddz’ followed by ‘Back to Bizznizz’ in 2007.
Lethal has enjoyed an amazing music career. Most of his releases as a lead artiste ended up in the top 40 of the UK singles chart. His craftsmanship has also been acknowledged and praised by critics and music lovers. His 2004 song “Pow (Forward)” won a MOBO award for “Best Single”. He was also nominated for “Best Newcomer”. Lethal has collaborated with artistes such as Stormzy, Twista, and Fuse ODG.