Yaw Tog is an unstoppable force when he puts his mind to something, his faith is unshakeable. His crusade for perfectionism is a large part of what draws such a dedicated fan base to the 19 year old. “The pain brings the energy because I feel like I’m on a mission,” he says. That mission can lead him to spend hours researching the stories and hardships of others to ensure his music is relatable on all levels. The forthcoming album is titled ‘Young and Mature’, a name that is synonymous with this stage of Yaw’s life. It’s his gift to listeners who feel stuck in the maze of life and need a little guidance to find the right path.
The young artist displays the discernment of someone who has lived decades longer and has already made an imperishable legacy to his name, cataloguing hit after hit. Through his evolution, Yaw has noticed his presence become louder, “I need to be loud because I’m chasing something. I can’t be soft on something that’s fighting me back, I need to fight back in order to win.” To that end, when trying to understand the life and toils of the young artist, you need to break things down into chapters: At a young age, it was prophesied by a pastor that he was destined for greatness. Around 2018, while he was still at school and most likely found on the football pitch, Yaw discovered his potential in music.
Born in Santasi, Kumasi, Yaw’s backdrop was musically rich – from Ghanaian High Life to Gospel. Even as the years went by, the sounds of artists like Pop Smoke would waft down the streets and out of sound systems – eventually leading to Ghana’s own brand of Drill, known as Asaaka. When Yaw entered the world’s stage it wasn’t long before he was labelled a pioneer in the realm of Drill, “anytime I hear a Drill beat, I don’t know where this monster energy comes from. Whenever I’m recording, my producer will tell me ‘don’t go so close to the mic’.”
In 2021 Yaw dropped ‘Sore’ (meaning ‘rise up’ in Twi), featuring fellow Kumasi rappers O`Kenneth, City Boy, Reggie, Jay Bahd. The track went viral in the blink of an eye. The infectious chorus and laden lyrics acted as kindling to the fire when a collaboration came from two of his musical heroes, Stormzy and Kwesi Arthur, who jumped on the remix later that year. Fast-forward to today and Yaw is bracing fans for one of his most meticulous works to date. Here, Yaw Tog speaks frankly about his latest transformation, where his untenable energy comes from and how he keeps running circles around the music scene.
At the end of last year, you had just announced your forthcoming album, ‘Young and Mature’. You were running around and busy doing press, you said it was like a movie. What’s life been like since that conversation?
Life is good! But when you’re trying to put a project out, it’s a whole lot of pressure and stress. Everything about this whole process is slightly stressful because I’m trying to bring out the hardest project of the year. It was supposed to come in February, but I keep holding back because the project is not really ready. Of course, it’s 80% done, but there’s that 20% I’m still searching for.
You’ve spoken about the chapter of life you are in and how ‘Young and Mature’ will reflect this. What’s the next chapter once the EP is out?
This album is changing my brand and everything’s moving to the next level. Because when I came to the scene, I was a boy just doing my thing but this project is letting people know I’ve transformed to another level. So this album is telling people “Yaw has changed into a different man, he has more to show us.”
The last month has seen you touring high schools across Ghana and other places. What made you want to do the tour?
Every young person in Ghana listens to my music and they look up to me because I came onto the scene as a kid, so they felt connected to the music because of that. That journey led me to them and they’re my fan base. Every time we do the high school tour, I have different shows across April. There are 10 schools that I need to get to before we go into May. The mission is to bring their attention to the album I’m about to drop, ‘Young and Mature’. I’m trying to let them know they should get ready.
One thing that stands out is how effortlessly you seem to make one bar flow into the next. How did you master your own style in music?
I would say it’s about learning and working every day to make it perfect. I started out by looking at different people and artists and I learn things from other artists and everyone around me. It’s like, the moment I step out, whoever I see and whoever I meet, I learn something from that person. So it’s hard work, learning and true determination; that’s what makes my skills what they are. I’m still not perfect yet, I’m still learning. I can’t wait to be more perfect and great.
It’d be hard to label your style – whether that’s tracks like ‘Sophia’ or ‘Aso)den’ – how do you make sure you keep it fresh and always seem so ready to experiment with a new style?
I don’t like to stand in one place every day. I’m trying to create something new for the world to listen to. Drill was where I started experimenting, when I came on a Drill beat people were asking ‘how is this guy so crazy on a Drill beat?’. Now, I have different types of genres that I’ve been working on. I have High Life, Afrobeat, Afroswing, Grime, Drill, Hip Hop… different sounds that I will be releasing very soon. I want it, so that’s why I do it.
This is an extract from the SS23 issue of Viper Magazine. Buy physical and digital copies here.
Photography: EDDIE CHEABA
Words: SOPHIA HILL
Styling Assistant: TARIRO
Grooming: TAHIYAH ALI
Clothing: SEED ORIGINAL