D-Black: “I want to push the Ghanaian music culture”
The Ghanaian rapper D-Black has built an astonishing career, placing Ghanaian hip-hop music on the international scene.
The Accra rapper D-Black is among the greatest Ghanaian rappers of the last decade. He has also succeeded in taking his craft and hiphop-Afrobeats fusion style of music up to an international level. His densely packed raps are as diverse and complex as the art of cognac making, and he has gone out of his way to fulfil his thirst for music. “I already knew that this was my passion at the age of fifteen,” he says.
D-Black, whose real name is Desmond Kwesi Blackmore, became a presence on the Ghanaian rap scene during its most fertile period — first as part of the group ‘D-Black and Kwaku-t’ in 2009, and then as a solo artist in 2010. In ‘D-Black and Kwaku-t,’ consisting of two members, it seemed like time on the mike was not to be wasted, something that can be felt on their album ‘Target Practice’.
Looking back, D-Black has characterized himself as someone who was pushing through a competitive atmosphere, one of the strongest in a litter of hungry wolfs. “It’s just me trying to live my dreams, never stopping, never settling,” he explains.
For a time, D-Black put rhyming aside to devote himself to other callings: “I took a five-year break from music,” he shares. Doing that provided a certain relief that he had been looking for, and soon an entrepreneurial star was born. “I built the nightclub Onyx and it became one of the biggest in my country. By 2019 I opened the nightclub Oasis which was a success, too. After that I started an event firm called Livewire Events. And next month I’m opening a radio station.”
But D-Black never quit rapping altogether. The raps simply didn't stop pouring into his head. So, with renewed enthusiasm, he took another beat at recording. “I just released an album a few months ago,” he reveals. The album he produced, 'Loyalty', fell into the hands of hungry fans, parachuting D-Black into a worldwide media tour to promote it, and the smash hit #EnjoymentMinister. ”I was out all the time so people started calling me the Enjoyment Minister. So when I put up this new album after five years, the number one record of the album was of course titled ‘Enjoyment Minister,’” he says and cracks up a laugh.
His new album is a fifteen-track project with amazing, featured artists. Steadiness and patience were the keys, and are still pushing the Ghanaian music culture.
“There’s so much talent in Ghana. I feel like we are a hidden gem. I’m very passionate about where I’m from and I feel like the world is yet to see the musical genius and passion of Ghanaian artists, producers and DJs.” And that’s how the highly revered independent Black Avenue Muzik record label came to be, one of D-Black’s other projects.
In the years since “Music, Love and Life,” D-Black’s first album, he has put together a stupefying hip-hop career. His music is self-produced and for many years, he paid for studio sessions with money made while working hard at nightclubs. “I’ve never stopped. And I’ve been blessed because I’ve never been forced to stop either.”
That work ethic – the late-shifts, the hustles, legion-of-one style – can all be felt in the music itself. “I had many dreams and many aspirations. And I’ve been able to achieve 80% of them and it’s because I never stopped, I never settled,” he says.
D-Black’s voice is soft, and he raps discreetly, as if telling you secrets under his breath. The verses in the songs are almost like spells sang in code; it takes intent listening to puzzle them out. His wordplay is like quicksand, pulling you in, and the albums are powered by communal connections to artists and other clique members. “Every time I make a profit, I don’t automatically go on spending it on myself, it almost always goes back on me investing it into another dream, or somebody else’s dream that I believe in,” he discloses. “I give back a lot,” he continues.
The song titles tell the whole story about the Ghanaian artist: a savant, humbled by his career path, one that appreciates all that the struggle has taught him, and one that continues to build and grow. “I always want to reinvest. With time or money,” D-Black concludes.
His songs also tell the tale of a rapper, surrounded by a cool aura, chilling with a glass of, preferably, Hennessy cognac. “Hennessy was my first intro to cognac. It has been my favourite drink for years. And when I came to Cognac, I got to understand the process and discover how it’s made through the grapes and the different families that are a part of it all,” he says. “It was a beautiful experience to see the cellars and the barrels and see where it all started. And to realize that the past that we saw in those barrels, it’s actually for the future. It’s the past being preserved for the future. It’s pretty dope if you think about it,” he continues.
Desmond Kwesi Blackmore always tells it as it is. Whether it is by cracking up a beat, sharing lessons learned or spilling the deets on the love for Hennessy cognac – he’s always conveying his long journey to becoming a cult figure.
And that’s pretty dope.
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