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Nana / Darkman (2014)

Nana / Darkman (2014)

Nana Kwame Abrokwa (b. October 5th, 1968) is a Ghanian born German rapper, performing under the pseudonyms Nana or Darkman. Nana is not an actual first name, but a Ghanaian title of nobility.

Nana arrived in Hamburg with his mother and his brothers at the age of 10.

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Nana started rapping under the name of MC Africa True (short: True). He sang with the Eurodance group Darkness.

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In 1996 Bülent Aris and Toni Cottura founded Booya Music, which Nana joined as their first artist.

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Nana's biggest hit is Lonely (from the 1997 debut album, Nana), considered the most successful euro-rap song in history. His second album, Father (from 1998) contains downtempo songs and more personal lyrics. 

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I did a phone interview with Nana in 1998 

(working for TV Satelit, the most important Romanian TV guide at the time)

http://czb.ro/articol/3750/

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The artist was invited to Cluj-Napoca on Novermber 22nd, 2014 as part of a We Love the 90's concert organized by Iancu Șerbănescu for the 6th annual Transylvania Music Event in the newly opened sports arena (Polivalenta Cluj). The organizer started the press conference by openly admitting that he invited Nana here because he was his favorite artist at the end of the 90's.

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RiCo pentru CZB: Are you still working with Tony Cottura?

Nana: At the moment, NO. We're still friends, we're still in contact, but we are not working together. Perhaps we will be working together again in the future.

RiCo pentru CZB: That was a very long relationship. How many years have you worked together?

Nana: Oh yeah, it was a very long relationship. We started working together back in 1993 and we worked until 2001. Then there was a little pause and the last time we worked together was in 2010, when I had my Stand Up album released and produced together with him.

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CZB: How has your daughter been influenced by daddy's music career and has she tried out for any Idol or Voice competitions?

Nana: No, and she shouldn't. She used to sing when she was young but then she developed other interests. I was happy; I intentionally supported my son and daughters talents in other fields of work. My son wants to be a professional NBA player. My daughter is very intelligent; she wants to study and music is not an issue - and I am happy about it - because in the first place you need a lot of dedication to become successful in music. There are a lot of elements that have to be combined and go together and it is also not easy to maintain your success. It is not made for everybody. I have seen colleagues that have been so long in the business and - I can't even begin to describe it - not everybody can deal with the ups and downs of art (whether it be music or painting or whatever). She's not involved and I'm glad.

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CZB: For people who want to make music a full time profession, what advice would you give?

Nana: In the 90's it was easy to make money from records but it was mostly dominated by men. What was significant of course (in the past two decades) is the breakdown of sales figures for the main music product, the CD. Things have changed. Obviously, a lot of people don't appreciate music anymore. It's a problem because we can't live without music and it takes a lot of effort and time to produce music, so it should be appreciated and paid, just like every other product. 

The newer generations are not used to buying music anymore, because they never learned about doing this. They just know about downloading stuff off the internet because that is what they grew up with. It makes no sense to blame the internet for that. It was a big challenge for artists back in 2000, when the internet started to blow up… Now it's a good tool. Life changes and you always have to adapt and make the best of things. The internet has become a great distribution channel and I hope that new laws will help structure internet sales so artists get paid the way they deserve to.

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Before 2008, I was making money from sales while I was sleeping. Times have changed now and you no longer have the possibility to generate income off of your CD's so I am now concentrating on live performances and merchandising. You have to adapt to the times; if you don't, you get left behind.

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Music is my passion. When things were going down with the internet, I kept releasing stuff because that's just me; I can't live without it. Secondly, I don't like giving up. I'm just a person that works hard and fights for his goals. So, when it started going down for the music business it was clear for me that a lot of people would vanish from the music industry. I hanged in there because I knew that music was my life. I had my own ship; I was far out into the ocean; the waves were carrying me up and down, and I just held on because I belong here.

The idea was to just stick in there and wait for better times - when the sun comes out; the waves calm down and starting last year, things are picking up and I'm happy that I stuck to what my heart was telling me to do.

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CZB: What's the most interesting comment you have received from a fan or a person from the audience?

Nana: It's very hard to break it down to one specific comment; what I have realized is that I have obviously touched millions of people with my music. I have touched their hearts and that is a great blessing for me and it is a great blessing for them. This is what connects us and I feel I am blessed to be in a position of being able to reach so many people all over the world and the feedback I get sometimes can be something very simple, like to keep on doing what I'm doing or - when people go through hard times and they listen to my music and they will write me an email saying thank you for giving me strength - what else could you demand as an artist?

What I do makes me very proud and happy of course because I can do something positive with the music. It's very hard to just pick out one specific comment. That's not easy with me.

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CZB: Have you thought of working with a LIVE band?

Nana: I did and it will happen but it has to be the right environment. I also plan to do something with a friend of mine who is a great jazz musician. We might go into the studio within the next two to three months. I believe that there might be two to three songs recorded with a band but I can't really confirm that right now. Working with a band is very nice but it's also very different. Let's see what the future brings.

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CZB: How do you feel about all the violence going on in the world… all the civil wars in Africa that are not being covered on international news channels?

Nana: I was born in Africa; I moved to Germany when I was 12. So, I feel African inside but I have a German mentality. What I remember, since I've been in Germany and living in the Western World to this very day I am still blessed and happy to be here. I know all my people are suffering out there, in Africa and in every developing country - people are just suffering. We are just lucky to be where we are; those who are born in the Western World are living in paradise. I feel sorry for a lot of people who are suffering for their life. 

I went to Ghana three or four years ago and I spent some time there - so I saw many things which made me very sad and I saw many things that made me very happy. I might be wrong, but I just believe that to live good, someone has to suffer for that. That just the way it is. Wars and politics go together and I just believe as a person who was not involved in politics, I just know too little to really give this correct coverage. I just wish we could live in peace and harmony but the truth is that it will always be worse somewhere and there will always be people killed somewhere… I pray to God that we don't have a third world war and regarding all this suffering, it's hard to do something about it. 

I cried so much when I went to Ghana. There's a saying: if you want to go to Africa, go to Ghana first. If you can't take it, go back. That's what people there have told me. There is a lot of poverty. It's very hard, it's very hard, it's very hard…

What can one do to help? When you look at the whole thing, it's just sad.

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CZB: Tell us more about your upcoming gigs or projects. 

Nana: I plan to make a great 90's Party in Berlin next year. One artist I really appreciate is Dr. Alban of course. He's a great guy. He's a great person. For my next project I'll be recording a song together with him for my new album and I'm looking forward to working with him. 

The album will come out next year. The cover is linked to how the industry has changed. What I am doing now is that I'm recording songs with different artists from different countries. The internet has opened up different markets and different territories. I have friends (thank God) all over the world. 

Actually, tomorrow I'll be releasing the first track (Cotton Candy) from the album in Bulgaria. It will feature the pop-folk Bulgarian singer Desislava. We met 3-4 years ago and we decided to put out a dance track. In Marcj we'll be performing together in Germany.

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After releasing a few duets, the Nana songs will follow.

I just feel that this is the right content to deal with the new music market we have. 

Going into a studio now and recording a full album, like I did back in 2010 is just a big waste of time - because I invested time, money and energy in there - and I was still experimenting with the internet, trying to find out how this thing works. The truth is that what I've released …the album was already out there, on the internet. I cannot describe how disappointed I was …all my work, all my time and money was wasted. People were downloading it without paying for it - not respecting it… so I had to go back and take a closer look and find the proper strategy to move with it in a positive way. So I believe that the steps I am taking right now are the right steps towards making an album and making it successful. 

It is also very important that the distributors you work with believe in your music. 

That is very important.

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Renate Roca, from PR & More, hired for doing PR at this event, was seated in the room (not next to the artists and organizer). Except for the CZB questions, she was the only active person at the press conference. 

It was kind of shocking to see that there were less than 10 reporters at this press conference. Not only was this one of the most important events in Cluj-Napoca in 2014 (apart from the fact that over 7.000 people attended the We Love the 90's gig, it was one of the opening events at the new Sports Arena, Polivalenta Cluj) but in 2015, Cluj-Napoca, Romania is European Youth Capital

The sad fact is that there are practically NO music reporters for press conferences in Cluj; all of the local newspapers in print are politically run (at least 5 of the average 12 pages deal only with promoting local politicians) and none have a consistent or constant entertainment column. The online press works with copy-pasting email newsletters and bloggers are either self sufficient or not invited to press conferences. The largest number of press people I have seen at a music press conference in Cluj was 20, for a Premiere at the Hungarian Opera in November 2014. 

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From answers received by Renate Roca (PR & More), here is an interesting Byte about Nana:

I love cooking. 

I like the combinations between cooking and producing music. 

It's all about composition at the end of the day.

Before you start making something, you have an idea about what it's supposed to be, what it's supposed to taste or look like and then you get your ingredients, then you start cooking and you can do a specific meal very well - but it's never the same one on one - so it's always nice to see what comes out in the end. I love cooking and I'm thinking about doing something with that - two or three times a week - I love to be with people enjoying a good wine or a nice champagne and enjoying life.

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OTHER We Love 90's CZB INTERVIEWS:

Ice MC (22.NOV.2014)

http://czb.ro/articol/8256/

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Snap! Penny Ford (22.NOV.2014)

http://czb.ro/articol/8471/

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