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King Promise: Music Chose Me 

By Chisom Njoku
24 July 2022   |   6:30 am
When exploring the story of Afrobeats, we can’t diminish the input of the Ghanaian music scene because in many ways it helped to finetune the sound that has now taken the world by storm.  Ghanaian Afrobeats have a distinct flavour from the nation's legacy of highlife -- the musical genre which adapts traditional rhythms of…

When exploring the story of Afrobeats, we can’t diminish the input of the Ghanaian music scene because in many ways it helped to finetune the sound that has now taken the world by storm. 

Ghanaian Afrobeats have a distinct flavour from the nation’s legacy of highlife — the musical genre which adapts traditional rhythms of the Ashanti to Western instruments.

A product of this musically rich nation is Gregory Bortey Promise Newman popularly known as King Promise, a recording artiste from Accra who is close collaborators with artistes like Wizkid and Mr Eazi and has gone on to make a name for himself with his unique musical style and persona.

He sits down with The Guardian Life to discuss his humble beginnings, musical growth and his latest music offering “5 Star”.

How would you describe King Promise to someone who’s never heard of him?

I’m a singer, songwriter from Accra, Ghana, representative of the continent and all round fly guy.

What was your childhood like & where did you grow up?

Growing up, I had very humble beginnings, I’m the oldest and I have three sisters. I’m the only artiste of the family and I honestly never saw it coming.

Were you a musically gifted child?

I’ve always loved music but what I did the most as a kid was play football and at a point I even thought I would be a professional footballer. Eventually I started making music when I was in uni and I blew up in my final year. I wasn’t sure what to do with myself after uni but music gave me direction.

Who/what were your early influences growing up and how did they contribute to who you are today?

Number one has to be my dad because he owned a boutique when we were growing up and you know in clothing stores, there has to be music so most of the time when I close from school I’d go back to the store and handle playing to music so you can say I have pretty good Dj skills.

My dad used to play a variety of music ranging from Ghanaian highlife to band boy music [Westlife, Backstreet Boys], and even reggae, dancehall, hip hop and R&B. 

Then I met a guy when I was coming up in my career called The Beat Menace and he put me on to different playlists to improve my songwriting then finally KillBeatz because he shaped my sound, I found my true sound while working with Killa.

My dad, Beat Menace and KillBeatz are definitely my top 3 influences. 

At what point in your career did it become clear to you that you had “blown” 

It was after university. After “Double Trouble” [a feature I did with a friend], I dropped “Oh Yeah” and it was everywhere. It was banging on radio and tv, all the platforms I always tried to get on were playing my music. Felt like it was a divine plan and God wanted me to go through the things that led up to that point.

I reflect a lot and I’m aware of how much things have changed and sometimes I still have that “damn I’m here moment”.

What’s your creative process like?

My process varies because I make music off real stuff. It might not necessarily be my story, if it sounds intriguing I explore it and write about it. Most of the time in in the studio with a producer cause I like to start music from scratch, but if I’m not in the studio with them, I don’t mind doing it myself because I can record myself.

Most times beats inspire me but I also just write music based on how I’m feeling. When I listen to a beat, I  can tell it it’ll help me create a love song or a bedroom song or a club banger, all these factors influence how I make music. 

What sets your new album “5 Star” apart from your previous projects?

The most prevalent thing about this album is the growth. From when I just came on the scene as a new cat till now that I’ve become one of the faces of African music globally. You can see the growth in sound, song writing, confidence, story telling, everything. 

Some of the songs on there are the realest things I’ve ever written.

It’s a personal album, I wrote it during lockdown and it’s taken me two years to put it out. I call this album “The One” because it’s different. I feel like I’ve grown and now I can talk about different topics. I’ve made money now so I can talk about that too [laughs] and I can talk on love, friends, loyalty, ambition and everything I’m feeling. 

What has been the most challenging part of making this body of work?

I like for things to happen naturally so if so when it becomes too difficult then it’s not for me. Music is an art and you don’t have to force it or over orchestrate it because it’ll take the beauty away from it.

When I was making it during the lockdown, I was literally at home so I had a lot of time to reflect on life, family and the people I love so I put all that in the music. 

Tell us something personal about this project that no one else knows

Okay, here’s an exclusive. “How Dare You” is a true story and it’s my story. I wrote it almost two years ago, I had never felt that way before so I put it in a song.