ghanaian photographer prince gyasi captures hiplife artists in a vibrant series

January 25, 2019

words by: Bere Wangge

In Prince Gyasi’s eyes, the Earth is a vibrant place where colors abound; it’s the kind of world we want to live in right now. 

The Ghanaian photographer is known for taking images of his hometown with iPhone. Loud and striking, the contrasting hues help in drawing attention, but there’s a deeper meaning in his aesthetic. For Prince Gyasi, the colors represent the abundant energy of Ghananian people.  

To commemorate this year’s MLK Day, which took place on January 21, Prince Gyasi was commissioned by Apple to shoot a series of photographs, titled A Great Day in Accra. True to his signature style, the photos are an explosion of bold colors. Interestingly, the series is inspired by the black-and-white photograph A Great Day In Harlem (1958) by Art Kane.

If the original piece features a group of jazz musicians in Harlem, Prince Gyasi’s A Great Day in Accra puts Ghana’s hiplife artists at the forefront. Just like hiplife (a Ghanaian musical genre that marries elements of highlife and hip-hop) is influenced by American culture, the series is a worthy tribute to a great American figure. This is why A Great Day in Accra is a brilliant fusion between Ghana and the U.S., both past and present.

Prince Gyasi comments on his series in a post that accompanies the photographs. “As a creative, it’s important for me to have the freedom to tell the truth through my art. I was happy to shoot my series, A Great Day in Accra, here in Independence Square, where Martin Luther King Jr. watched Kwame Nkrumah declare Ghana’s freedom back in 1957. By reuniting and photographing both old and new hiplife artists, I’m letting the rest of the world know about the genre’s impact in Ghana and beyond. People need to hear about the culture, the source of our rhythm, our music, what influences our arts. It’s our history from our perspective. I want to make sure the new generation doesn’t lose their identity or forget about the pioneers who paved the way for them to lift their own voices.”

To complement the photographs, Apple has also released a short video about the series, Accra and hiplife. Watch it below.

Images c/o Apple