One of the coolest things about being an artist is getting to collaborate with other artists around the world. I’ve worked with numerous local artists before and those collaborations were amazing experiences, but the most significant collaboration I’d ever done involved 2 countries, 2 languages and a whole lot of coordination.
It all started in 2012. I was on the phone one evening with Yaba Angelosi, one of South Sudan’s most prominent artists and producers who is based in Nashville, Tennesee. He asked me why we haven’t worked on a song yet despite being so socially interlinked. I had only 1 excuse then. That excuse was that I didn’t have my citizenship and was stateless, which meant I didn’t have a passport. Yaba encouraged me to resolve the passport issue as fast as I could and pitched the idea of a few songs that we could both work on.
I spent the following years in a tumultuous battle with the Canadian Government to get my citizenship and in May of 2015, I opened up a large envelope with my name and held my passport for the very first time. The night before getting on the plane, my aunt was sternly advising me to travel safe. Rightfully so, she did not like the idea that I would be going to another country to work with someone I had never met in my life.
After that phone call, my boyfriend at the time was displeased with that very same idea, however it was out of his own insecurity rather than fearing for my safety. Other people were more concerned about my travels than I was. Their worries did birth a slight tinge of fear in me, and that fear stuck with me as the plane lifted off the ground and I realized that there was no way to turn back.
A stopover in Chicago taught me that things in the United States really did work differently, for example, they do not accept Interac. The moment the plane landed in Nashville, there was buzz about the Charleston shooting, in which a reported white male supremacist opened fire and killed 9 black church attendees and injured 1. That chilling “welcome to America” was nerve-wrecking.
I scampered out of the airport and was greeted by the ever-so-tall Yaba Angelosi. He gazed at me in confusion and said, “I thought you’d be much taller since you’re a model.” We both laughed, me more out of nervousness. It was pouring rain in the city and I was starving. We grabbed a quick bite of pizza and reviewed what I had written for the song.
I convinced him that my part would be good, despite the fact that I had despised the original verse I had written and rewrote this verse just before leaving the country. I wanted my verse to exude the love a woman would feel towards the man that truly loves her. I was able to convince Yaba Angelosi that the verse would be perfect for the song. After we were confident that we were prepared, Yaba went home and I stayed in my hotel in Murphreysboro, the name of a city I couldn’t even pronounce.
The next morning, a knock at the door signaled that it was time to go to the studio. I had barricaded myself in my hotel room for nearly 12 hours out of fear, so it felt great to go out, even if it was just to a car. A quick stop to pick up coffee at a McDonald’s drivethru and we were on the the highway to Nasvhille, passing by beautiful rock formations, century old trees and abandoned cars. The studio we arrived at was completely inconspicuous, but the building next to it had a wonderful display of its city’s name.
It didn’t look like much from the exterior, but the inside of Destiny Studios was incredible! We recorded the song in under 3 hours with Brandon Metcalf engineering and Dylan assisting and then spent the rest of the day touring the city. Yaba Angelosi spent the night working on the track at his studio and to my surprise, I woke up in my hotel room to a track that was fully mixed the next morning. And then the hit was born.
There were many complications that caused the release of the track to be delayed and sometime had to be taken off for Yaba Angelosi’s greatest blessing, the birth of his daughter. If you’ve ever had to deal with delays that are out of your hands, you will know how frustrating and annoying they are. It wasn’t until a year later that the song was finalized to be released, and it was almost another year before the music video could finally be coordinated.
But the end result was something quite miraculous. Yaba Angelosi unfortunately had an emergency to deal with and was not able to participate in the music video, but we had a large team that helped put together a bright, happy video that honestly one of the funnest experiences of my life.
Now Available on Spotify & iTunes:
Written by: Yaba Angelosi, amanie illfated
Produced by: Assida Records
Recorded by: Brandon Metcalf of Destiny Nashville
Mixed by: Assida Records
Other credits: Dylan of Destiny Nashville
Video production by: MC2 Music Media
Clothing & styling by: Phresh Empire (Sadi Johnson)
Make-up by: Rlhsignature
Models: Jimi Loboi, D’Ammie, MzDebbieJonez, Mawu Ransford