At an age when a lot of people are just trying to get through recess, Ghana’s Castro was taking everyone to school. Starting out at the age of 10, he has built a career manufacturing hiplife hits, both for himself and a host of other artists like Itz Tiffany. Based in Accra since the age of 17, he has five solid albums to his name. A sixth one called Olofofoo is dropping in July, and you don’t even want see the sickening number of hits his videos have on YouTube. Wait Yeah you do
Half Fanti and half Ga, the Takoradi-born musician and producer sings and rhymes in four different languages (English, Fanti, Ga and Twi.) He’s about to open his own studio, and he’s besties with Ghanaian soccer star Asamoah Gyan and top rapper Sarkodie. He’s made hit tracks with both of them, because that is what you do with your boys when you are Castro.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, there’s something you can learn from talking to a guy like this, and MTV Iggy was lucky enough to sit down with the one they call the Ghanaian 50 Cent during his recent tour of the states to get his story and his thoughts. We think we learned a lot. Read on to find out what it takes to be a star in West Africa.
Castro on how he got his start in music:
When I was in secondary school, we were all beating on tables, singing and rapping and that is how this all came about. Around that time I realized I could rap because I was learning how to rap Tupac songs. Around fifteen, sixteen years old I thought, “If I can learn somebody else’s music, why don’t I do my own thing?”
On African music’s global reach:
African music is traveling far away. It’s moving forward, seriously. Now you can see a lot of the African stars doing collaborations with the top stars in the US: D’Banj, P-Square, 2Face. It’s doing well in the world. Not even in Africa alone. And that makes me feel good. I’m trying to bring what is good in Africa into the Europe[an] system, into the American system.
On performing outside Ghana:
It feels the same. I’m giving them the big performances and I think they like my songs. When they see me, people like to go crazy because they know what I can do already. But if somebody doesn’t know me, I think they will be shocked. Like, “Okay, I don’t know about his songs, but let me see what he’s going to do.” When I do a show, it’s something different. When I come on stage, it’s strictly business. I don’t joke.
On his forthcoming album Olofofoo:
This album is a great album. This is my first time I’m working with VIP in collaboration on my own album. I had a song with them on their album four years ago. It’s a big collabo, trust me.
“Olofofoo“ is a Nigerian word that means you like talking too much, gossiping. But the album’s theme … you know my manager is behind whatever I do, I have friends in England who support whatever I do. So, you see there are so many people coming from different angles. I have one person in the UK, one person in the US, a partner in Ghana. There are so many people from different countries trying to make this thing bloom, so the album is about thanking the people who have helped me.
On how he started making music with soccer player Asamoah Gyan:
We are friends. What happened was I went to Italy ten years ago. I went to Vicenza and he heard that I was around, and so he came to the show and somebody told me that our Ghanaian striker is here. It was after the World Cup. He was based in Italy, but he was on the Ghana national team. So, I introduced him on stage with some of the Ghanaian players who were there. They came up to dance with my song. So that is how we met.
And that guy, I didn’t know he was into music. He started doing music before he started playing football. So, after the performance in Italy, we got in touch, we started talking. And later on he told me that he can rap and I was like “Stop it. You can’t do nothing.”
And he was like ‘Just put some beats in.’ So, we were sitting in his car and I put a CD on, and he started rapping.
I was like “Yo man, you can do this.”
And he said ‘Yeah.’
And I said “So why not? Let’s do something together.” So, after “African Girls” we did “Do the Dance.” And we have five songs that are not out yet.
On his recent single “Side by Side”:
“Side by Side” is a song that I did for my beautiful women, all my beautiful African women. I’m talking about their beauty, their shape, the good things that they have. I’m trying to show some appreciation.
On his relationship with Sarkodie:
We’ve done almost like five songs together now. We are brothers. Sarkodie comes to my house 24/7. I go to his house 24/7. And if you ask him, he will tell you a whole lot about me. Everybody knows he’s a good rapper now, but I always told him: “Keep doing what you are doing, because you are great, and one day you will not regret [it].” So, any time that he goes into an interview or anywhere that he goes, he gives me a shout out for that, because I have been good to him.
On choosing the artists he collaborates with:
My policy is, I do it for free. I don’t do it for money. I do it for love. Anybody that comes around, the good ones, I’ll work with them.
You see, I don’t like people that pretend. God has blessed me with so many things. I don’t know you, but before me sitting here to have an interview with you, I will know the kind of person that you are. I have that in me. I have a white heart, a pure heart.
On his lyrics:
I don’t preach about one thing, you know. There are some artists they always preach about one thing. When it’s love, it’s track one: love, track two: love, track three: love. But me, I don’t do that. I cut across all different places. I have love songs, I have gospel; I have songs that are emotional. They tell you more about life, how to live without trouble.
On the Azonto dance craze:
The Azonto goes way back in our country, but who made it international is Castro and Asamoah Gyan. Nobody knew the Azonto until anytime that Asomoah would score he’d do Azonto. So that is why even Whites started doing it. You know football fans, a goal is scored they all go crazy.
And now everybody knows the Azonto all over the world. When you go to the Net you will see all different kinds of people doing Azonto: Indians, Whites, Black Americans. Everybody does the Azonto.
Words of wisdom to his fans:
Always thank god that you are still alive your breathing the good air.