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UD Selects: Why we’re fans of… Kwaku Asante

Kat Friar – lucky enough to nab a ticket for Kwaku Asante’s recent sold-out show at Village Underground, Shoreditch – breaks down why we’re big fans of Asante’s soul-laced, gospel-infused R&B offerings…

NAME: Kwaku Asante, also known as Kwakz

GENRE: Soul-laced and gospel infused R&B. You’ll often find that funk fused rhythms and jazz instrumentations lie underneath his velvet tones, but his latest EP, Wanderlust, offers more minimal production which allows his storytelling and rich voice to take the driver’s seat.

LISTEN AND WEEP…

SIMILAR TO: Kwaku’s style of R&B travels beyond traditional.
Pip Millett is another artist that blend R&B and soul similarly. Samm Henshaw‘s music might also give you a similar feel.

INSPIRED BY: Growing up on a diet of gospel and R&B, Kwaku listened to choir directors like Kirk Franklin and Donnie McClurkin growing up, while his mother cleaned the house. His older brother put him on to R&B singers like Usher, Brandy, Monica, Chris Brown and Robin Thicke. He has cited his biggest influence as D’Angelo and has also said that “If D’Angelo and Frank Ocean had a baby, I want to be the love child.”

VOLUME UP!

SOUNDTRACK FOR: His honeycomb EP can definitely be used for serenading someone you’re into. His music is both alluring and lavish, so it’s perfect for trying to move to somebody new or show your partner how you feel about them. However, his Wanderlust EP is easily a soundtrack a breakup. It’s a collection of stories about why things went wrong in different scenarios and from different perspectives.

MOST POPULAR SONG: Sitting at 5,467,700 streams, ‘The Way That You Move’ is Kwaku’s debut single and most popular song. The jazz and soul inspirations are prevalent, the production feels like something from Tom Misch‘s catalogue. It’s lyrical content feels enticing and the grooves of the song make you want to get up and have a little boogie. 

LIVE: Kwaku headlined Village Underground, managing to sell out the 700 capacity venue. Supported by Bea Anderson, it was a fresh R&B show like no other. The vibes during the show were cosy and comfortable, with room to dance and experience the music and a live band. His voice was to die for and his stage presence really fit those funky rhythms we mentioned before.

Here’s 9 of our favourite moments from his live show

The pines for a past lover on ‘Wait For Me (Promise)’

The emotion during the performance was raw like a fresh wound. The pleading chorus is amplified live as Kwaku demonstrates even more vocal skill than the studio version.

The bounce in his walk on ‘Tightrope’

A more upbeat tune, ‘Tightrope’ has such a funky melody it’s hard not to dance, and Kwaku really felt the live band playing before coming to the mic stand, dancing and bouncing to the beat.

Seeing ‘Bittersweet’ live

As enrapturing as his vocals are, sometimes there’s that one song you need to hear live because of the relatability that lies within the lyrics. He sang it like he was truly singing it to the person, like they were there in the room and given the nature of the song, that strength to walk away is needed and was highlighted by his live performance.

That one lyric on ‘Sunday’

The lyrics “Let’s break bread, then I’ll break your back” always gets a cheer from the crowd. The sensuality drips through his vocals as he showcases his vocal range. 

His shout out to his mum

His mum came down to support him and he shouted her out as the “lady in red”. She once came to the press pit to take a video and it was just so wholesome to see.

The outpour of emotion during ‘Nothing Left To Say’

As the somber piano welcomed his heartfelt vocals, he looked vulnerable up on stage as he poured his heart out. You could really the  in his voice. 

The outfit change for the encore

From a black tight fitted shirt and white linen trousers to a white, green and black top and brown trousers, it made his return for the encore all the more special. It’s not that common to do outfit changes at all during shows anymore so it was a nice surprise.

His cover of ‘Kiss It Better’

Electric guitar ushers him in as he seductively performs a more instrumental rendition of Rihanna’s ‘Kiss It Better’.

The back and fourth on ‘Molasses’

Following the most exquisite guitar solo, a back and fourth between the crowd and Kwaku ensued. “So sweet, so sweet yeah“, from both parties filled the room as the show came to a close.

NEXT PERFORMING: While Kwaku Asante is yet to announce another date, he’ll likely be performing sometime next year whether it’s a headline or a support set. Keep your eyes peeled, you really won’t want to miss those dulcet vocals and funky guitar twangs.

Follow Kwaku Asante HERE.

Words: Kat Friar. Kat is a freelance journalist, DJ and photographer with a passion for music. She likes to cover all bases regarding music so whether it’s a new album, a rising artist or a gig, she’ll be writing about it.

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