Nana Yaw Boateng, alias Nana NYC, is a US based Ghanaian artist making huge waves among Ghanaian communities in US and Europe.Â Born in Accra, he spent a few years in Kwahu before migrating to the United States in 1992. He found his love for music early and started playing drums in the church. As a young boy living in the small town of Mpraeso, he was exposed to live band music on the streets every other weekend and at times at funerals. All these honed his passion for music.
Today, Nana NYC is an all rounded independent artist who defies categorization. He has been featured several DVDs and mix tapes; and produced 3 independent LPs for himself namely â€˜Oska Mya vol. 1â€™ (2002), â€˜Oska Mya vol.2â€™ (2003), and â€˜Cold Hearted And Rebellious Towards Suckers Vol. 1â€™ (2006). His musical influence ranges from people like Nana Ampadu to Amakye Dede, Tupac Shakur, Daddy Lumba, and most of the hip-hop acts in the late 1990â€™s.Â He has worked withÂ the likes Dwayne Wayans (My Wife And Kids),Â Lansky of G.M.P, Jesse West, as well as Frado who has produced for The LOX, MIMS, Dipset, just to name a few. Through the 10 year period of his independent career, his song has been used on a Los Angeles television show and he has made an appearance on BET.
Jamati.com met with the budding Ghanaian artist to talk about is journey so far and what the future holds for him.
Jamati: Why did you leave Ghana for the States?
For as long as I remember, my mother was always away so sometimes I felt so lonely because my father wasnâ€™t around. My mother finally found her way to the United States and when she finally settled down, she sent for my brother, sister and I.
Jamati:What do you miss the most from back home in Ghana?
What I miss most about Ghana is just Ghana itself. My friends, the chop bars, hi-life music, the Ghana football league, fan milk, the yogurt, the shish kebabs, and I can go on and on.
Jamati: When did you discover your talent as a musician?
I have always loved music. I used to play the drums in several of the churches I used to attend. I really realized that I wanted to be a recording artist when I learned how to record on cassette players; I just used to love how my voice sounded on there. I am an all around musician who is willing to try any type of music as long as I like the rhythm and the ideas that come to mind when I am listening to the rhythm. Often times artists categorizes themselvesâ€“ not me, I want to run free with my imagination.
Jamati: Why the name Nana NYC?
Well the name Nana because it is my first name. I chose NYC because I traveled to California to work with one of my long time partners, Dwayne Wayans, and he told me about Myspace.com. I never knew about it, so when we tried to make a Nana page, the name was already taken so he added NYC because I came from New York City.
Jamati: When did you start performing?
I used to live in Mpraeso in the late 80â€™s and every other weekend there were live bands on the street playing. Some were funerals (well most) and some were just church bands. I used to make beats with my mouth by beating my jaw with my hands. People used to crowd around me and watch for hours, of course not without paying. But if we are talking stage performance then it was at Miss Ghana New York 2003, at Herbert H. Lehman College
Jamati: When was your lucky break as an artist?
As far as lucks and breaks, I havenâ€™t had any. I know God put me to do this because I never expected to be a musician but now when I look back at my life, it seems like it was destiny. I have been going through ups and downs and now I am finally here so I know God is with me but no breaks or luck, at least not yet.
Jamati: What have been the challenges?
I live in America and there are different types of people here and I am independent so to make money I must meet everyoneâ€™s need. It was tough for an African kid to get recognition. First I had to win over the kids in my neighborhood, and the hardest part was winning over the Ghanaians especially around the early 2000â€™s. They were not trying to hear a Ghanaian doing hip hop. I have been through so much that I sing and write about anything and everything. My favorite titles are struggle songs.
Jamati: How is the Ghanaian community responding to your music?
As an independent artist, you have to work twice as hard as a signed artist. At the end of each day I go to sleep thanking God because I am progressing and I see it. People have different taste, so I have had people tell me that I am very good and others tell me that I am not that great.
Jamati: How do you keep up with your fans?
I choose to keep the singles that I put out simple because my first market is my own, the Africans in North America. I have been a battle rapper most of my career but before Africans did not want to hear that, so I had to make some type of music to connect with the crowd. Now that I do, I will make some more complicated ones for those who can comprehend.
Jamati: You were featured on BET; How did that happen?
I have been around for a while. I have been grinding for about a decade now. I actually met a guy in the Bronx who happened to be watching music videos on line and ran into mine. He approached me and gave me his number. I called but no one picked up so I forgot about it. I spoke to my mother a few months after and she gave me the same number, when I tried saving it, the phone couldnâ€™t save it because it was already in my phone. From there I hit them up and we had a meeting, I paid my fees and now it is on.
Jamati: What have been the highlights of your music career?
The highlights of my career is basically putting out my own independent mix tapes, and putting together independent shows. The one that comes to mind is when I had one of my songs used on a TV show in LA, thanks to Dwayne Wayans, every time I think about it I smile to this dayâ€¦mâ€™dubb
Jamati: What do you hope to achieve in the future with your music?
Honestly an artistâ€™s success comes with the connections he or she has. I have made a lot of good and bad connections so I have learned. Now in NYC when you go out to a Ghanaian party you will see hundreds of young people there. When I first started 10 years ago, the 23 year olds now were 13 then. Now there is a market so I am looking for someone I can produce because if I can do all this for, I imagine, someone else.
Source: Jamati Online