AfroTageInterviews

AratheJay: The Highlife Spiritual Artist

The Sekondi-born talent recorded his first single, Spite, at the tender age of sixteen while still in high school.

AratheJay Interview
AratheJay [PHOTO CREDIT: The Orchard]

Despite the revolutionising growth of the Ghanaian music space from ancient African jazz to modern pop cultures of hip hop, Afropop and afrobeats dominating today’s chart, fast-rising Ghanaian singer Samuel Ankrah artistically known as AratheJay has creatively carved a distinctive sound through the fusion of soulful highlife strains with contemporary afrobeats producing hits like Sankofa, Boogie Bango, Onoa, C’est La vie and many others. 

The Sekondi-born talent recorded his first single, Spite, at the tender age of sixteen while still in high school. He began his musical journey as a rapper, transforming his poetic expressions into rap melodies. Finding purpose in channelling words into melodies and laying them over instrumentals, he aimed to share his message with the world.

In about 45 minutes of fun-filled conversation via Google Meet, the fast-rising star shares his journey from being a music fan to becoming a music artist, radiating positive energy, intelligence, and a strong belief in God. 

AratheJay

In our recent interview with AratheJay, he shared that his professional music journey began during his high school years. Influenced by a senior named Ara, a Yoruba boy who dubbed him “the ara” or “Ara the Junior,” AratheJay’s stage name was born.

AratheJay
AratheJay [PHOTO CREDIT: The Orchard]

“Ara means ‘wonder’ in Yoruba,” he explained, “and that became my name when I started making music.” Eventually, he transitioned to AratheJay, a name he felt resonated more deeply with his artistic identity than “Theara.”

Before Sankofa

AraTheJay’s interest in music grew from his attention to literature and the arts, where he began as a fan, then began writing and later recording his sounds. 

“So it went from listening, being a fan of music, to writing, l used to write poems and scripts for drama, then it translated into singing, and then, yeah, by grace, I realised that I needed to do this because there’s a purpose.”

Growing up in various climes like the circles of Sekondi and the cultural industrial planes of Kumasi in Ghana, and Nairobi, the heartbeat of Kenya, where he was more exposed to the arts, meetings with DJs and other creatives in the music process have been of great influence on the singer’s love for the arts and early transition into recording music. 

After recording his first single while in high school, the up-and-coming singer had a break in music for about a year but never relentled; a commitment that has won global recognition and collaboration with the likes of King Promise, Dajon AF, NSG and others.

Highlife Spiritual Genre

With great influences and inspiration from ancient African sounds, rhythms, and bands like Salif Keita, Labgbaja, Fela Kuti and others, AraTheJay has culled a distinctive genre for his style of music. 

“It’s not about the groove; it’s not about melodies. Yeah, it is about the message. And I believe positive messages themselves are a big genre.”

When you base a genre on a theme, it becomes more essential. So I based my genre of music on spirituality, on positivity, yeah, that’s why I’m like, yeah, that’s spiritual music; feeding the soul, feeding the body, yeah, as B4Bonah said.

The message-based genre is an outstanding focus in the singer’s lyrics and sound, as seen in songs like Jesus Christ, Unruly, Boogie Bango, Onoa, 2000, Odeshi, and many others. 

It’s not about the groove; it’s not about melodies. Yeah, it is about the message. And I believe positive messages themselves are a big genre.

AratheJay, 2024.

The highlife sensation aims to provide a positive impact to listeners. Thus, in the song Jesus Christ, there’s a message of hope for the hopeless, friendship for the poor, and being sorted out in life when you come to Jesus. 

In Unruly, he shares the message of having a good attitude, and not being rude. In Boogie Bango, AraTheJay appreciates a friend who has been a good guy in a bad world. 

In 2000 & Odeshi, the singer shares the inspiration of standing tall for oneself. 

Highlife Spiritual Artist

So, do I call you an Afro-spiritual artist?” the interviewer inquired

“No, call me a highlife artist, yeah, a highlife spiritual artist,” AraTheJay responded confidently. 

I wear the mask because I’m not so much about attention. I believe it’s not so much about Arathejay. It is so much about Arathejay’s music

AratheJay, 2024.

The highlife spiritual singer combines contemporary afrobeats with traditional African rhythm, delivering high catch sounds and life-moving lyrics dealing with issues of love, family, and community. 

The young singer is not concerned about people knowing him but wants more attention to his message and sounds. 

“You see, I wear the mask because I’m not so much about attention. I believe it’s not so much about Arathejay. It is so much about Arathejay’s music.

I love silence, not the hustle and bustle. I love to do my work in silence,” he added.

The highlife sensation believes that the purpose of the songs is to help the listener rather than live the celebrity life. 

The talented songwriter who enjoys channelling words into melodies and having them on instrumentals fluently speaks Akan, Swahili, and English, and laces the languages in his lyrics.

…call me a highlife artist, yeah, a highlife spiritual artist.”

AratheJaym 2024.

AraTheJay’s music has cut across the plains of Ghana, receiving a resonating audience in Kenya and Nigeria. In recent times his music has been described as a celebration of African culture, delivering contagious beats and soothing lyrics that shade on issues in family, love, and community. 

Finding Nimo Series: The Capsule 

Finding Nimo is the actual album, the body of work that you should expect from me, and that will be coming very soon. 

But the capsule is the first. So I’m doing a series of projects that are leading into the album and the first one is The Capsule, AratheJay says.

In a blend of mid-tempo rhythms delivered on a 9-track capsule, the singer takes the world on a journey of finding himself and his sound. 

The Capsule which showcases the singer’s musical prowess and versatility, strikes a coherence between melody and message with an element of African cultural instrumentals, highlife, pop and contemporary afrobeats. 

Hopefully, there’ll be an accompanying deluxe to The Capsule this year.

AratheJay, 2024.

The talented spiritual singer collaborates with Aema and B4Bonah to deliver the productions of great hands like DJ Breezy, BillyDray, Rankingmadeit, 7th Romahn and others.

The project holds a notable milestone in his musical journey.

Hopefully, there’ll be an accompanying deluxe to The Capsule this year.”

What’s next?

Let me give you a surprise, this year, the official video of the song ‘Baby’ might be out.”

I don’t think the the love for the song was given so much, yes, I want to reiterate the song, so bring it back in an official video. AraTheJay mentioned.

With a resonating emergence into the Ghanaian music scene, standing out as a pivotal figure with a distinctive pop fusion, AraTheJay is committed to making more music, having live band sessions, welcoming collaboration, and creating more impact.

The rapper and singer look forward to a deluxe of The Capsule and an official video to  Baby hinting at greater achievements to come. 

The young independent artist who is currently undergoing a master’s programme in resource management wants everyone who visits Ghana to have a taste of waakye and Jollof, visit places like Winniba and Takoradi, and enjoy Ghanaian movies like YOLO. 

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