Delasi, “The Audacity of Free Thought”
By Megan Iacobini de Fazio · January 22, 2024 Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP

Delasi has never been one to bow down to expectations, either in the music industry or in society at large. His new record Audacity of Free Thought feels like a celebration of this steadfastness, a recognition that it is possible to triumph without compromising. But it has been a long journey: the Ghanaian singer, rapper, and producer made a name for himself in his country’s rap scene over a decade ago, but his sound was too “out there” to be commercially successful. His 2015 self-released debut album #ThoughtJourney exemplified Delasi’s eclectic style, blending snippets of traditional music from the Volta region with R&B, jazzy boom bap, off-kilter electronics, and rapping in Ewe and English. It also signaled his deep commitment to political and social justice: He denounced the treatment of African immigrants and the arbitrariness of borders on the evocative “Artificial Lines” and decried the state of Pan-Africanism over the Ghanaian rhythms and hip-hop beats of “Commot for Der,” while also highlighting the costs of thinking outside the box, both politically and creatively. The sprawling, 25-track album felt like a statement of intent: “Welcome to my thought journey express/ where I express my intellect, interests, and sentiments,”  he sang over a leisurely sax on the opening track.

Almost 10 years on, and Audacity of Free Thought feels like the culmination of that journey. Released vis Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings and co-produced by Morgan Greenstreet, the record is a testament to the value of perseverance. On the optimistic and uplifting “Perception,” which draws on his struggles in the music industry, Delasi encourages fellow “underdogs” to stick with it and believe in themselves.  “You can be anything/you can do anything/just believe in your dreams” he sings over a sturdy beat, sampled vocal chants, and Kaytranada-like production.

“Amplifier” is frenetic yet tranquil, capturing the notion of working hard while also being patient and trusting the process. Delasi keeps the lyrics to a minimum here, repeating the song’s refrain like a mantra over an intricate tapestry of rhythms, layered vocals, and spacey synth textures. He’s joined on the track by Veteran Ghanaian multi-instrumentalist and sound designer Nii Noi Nortey, whose saxophone appears timidly at first, before erupting in an intense, soul-stirring blast, as if to underline the power of manifestation.

It isn’t all celebration, though. Delasi may have finally had the breakthrough he worked so hard towards, but the fight isn’t over. He turns his attention to the world’s woes and our collective struggles on the title track: “If this is an economic hit/ maybe not if we fight back” he sings defiantly, emphasizing the imperative of always resisting oppressive structures. His tone remains defiant, juxtaposed to the hopeful, soothing musical backdrop. It might not be an easy journey, but we’ll get there in the end.

Read more in Hip-Hop/Rap →

Top Stories

Latest see all stories

On Bandcamp Radio see all

Listen to the latest episode of Bandcamp Radio. Listen now →