Nathan is an award-winning Ghanaian journalist and a good friend. We met shortly after I moved to Ghana and was invited by Sammy Bartels, a mutual friend, to talk about rowing on tv.
Nathan is one of the most productive people I know and when he is not busy hosting tv or radio shows, he is busy making hit rap songs.
He is a modern day Renaissance man who is able to juggle several projects at the same time and do so excellently. In the following article, he shares some insight on how he manages to juggle his professional life with his passions.
I first worked in a newsroom in 2004. Right after I had finished secondary school, I was looking for something to do while I was waiting to go to University. At the time, my elder brother’s friend was working at a now defunct radio station called Channel R. Their frequency, 92.7FM, is now owned by 3FM.
It was mainly a gospel station, but they had a sports desk and I started there as an intern. I learnt the ropes of being a sports reporter: how to cover assignments and produce sports bulletins. It all started from there.
I interned for the summer before going to university and I went back to work there for two vacations. After that, I decided that I wanted to move up because I had learnt as much as I could working with a smaller radio station and I wanted to try something else.
My break didn’t come immediately though.
In 2009, I met the late Christopher Opoku through a friend, Kofi Appiah, who has also passed away. At the time, he was on the verge of leaving Asempa FM to return to Metro TV, as the Sports Editor. We had a chat and he promised to contact me once he had settled at Metro TV, because he felt that I had what it took to do some tv.
It wasn’t until August 2009 that I made my first TV appearance as a sports pundit / panelist for the Champions League. This was the 2009–2010 Champions’ League season that Inter Milan won under Jose Mourinho.
I did a lot of tv in Ghana: almost every Wednesday night, I was on tv with Karl Tuffour and Godfred Akoto-Boafo some of these more experienced guys in the industry. I learned a lot from them about punditry or journalism in general.
Joining Citi FM
It’s funny because I used to be a guest pundit at Citi for the coverage of the English Premier League. At that time, my good friends Gary Al-Smith and Godfred Akoto-Boafo were working there. The two of them traveled to cover the 2013 edition of the African Cup of Nations in South Africa. They brought me on board to hold the fort since the sports desk was empty.
I worked hard and once the tournament was over, the station asked if I wanted to stay. I told them that I wanted to stay and have been here since. Since 2013, I have had a lot of interesting experiences, including meeting Jon, because it was through this job that we met.
As my career has progressed, I have been mindful about trying new things. I’ve written articles. I have hosted radio and TV shows. I got to host the The Game TV show on GH One that I met Jon on, for about one year while the host was away in the UK getting another degree.
That’s my story up until today. Now I do more and take on new projects. I now head the station’s research desk. I have read mainline news on TV. I did that for one year and some months. That’s really the entire experience as a journalist. That’s how everything has played out so far.
Now I focus on my new job. I do a lot more research for the upcoming presidential election in Ghana. It feels new and somewhat odd, to a lot of people, but I don’t think I can completely walk away from sports. I still host the Premier League Preview on Citi TV and I am part of the panel for Sports Panorama, our Friday night show on Citi FM.
More than just a journalist
While I have worked as a journalist, I have also taught at universities on the side. This was because for my national service, I taught English as a second language at the Ghana Institute of languages, for one year. I stayed on for another year before going to get my master’s degree in International Relations and Diplomacy.
I also taught business communication for a couple semesters at UPSA in 2018. And then recently I taught a business English class. So that’s what I did. So I’ve been teaching from 2009. Since then, I’ve always, at a point, taught one class.
Passion for rap music
I’ve always had a relationship with music since I was a boy. I’ve always loved and consumed music. Music was always around, but it was in my teens that I actually started playing about with rap music.
The first time I actually tried to rap was in secondary school when I joined a group. At the time, we did it because we loved to perform. When I got to university though, I didn’t do a lot of music, but the love was still there.
The truth is that I don’t see myself as somebody who just likes music. I actually love music! I consume and study music, especially rap music. It all changed in 2018, when King of Accra, a colleague and a well-known producer encouraged me to pursue my passion.
He and I go way back, because we went to school together. He was a year behind me and he saw me rap in school. We would often talk about music and he told me to put my music out there. I wasn’t sure about it, but he kept insisting so I decided to give it a try.
The very first thing I experimented with in December 2018, was doing a cover of a Sarkodie’s song “Bibii Ba”. In 2019, I did another popular cover of “Who Da Man”, another Sarkodie song.
At the beginning, I was doing covers to test whether or not people like my music. I then met iPappi, a beat maker based in Kumasi. I came across some of his work and I loved it. He produced a song for the rap duo, Kojo-Cue and Lil’ Shaker titled “Accra-Kumasi Road” on their “Pen and Paper” album. The beat had me going crazy and so, I sought him out on Twitter. I found his handle and a link to his Beat Stars profile and that was where I found his beat catalogue and got in touch with him. I bought some beats off him and I started putting together my own songs.
For those who are wondering, iPappi produced Stonebwoy’s single “Ololo” feat Teni and “Bow Down” ft Nasty C off the Angloga Junction album.
The first song I put out was titled “Oh Yeah” which was a bit of an ode to myself. It was a typical rap song just talking about how I am the man. The reception was crazy once that came out! The song trended on Twitter in Ghana, on the night I released it on radio. It was amazing!
I decided to take a step further with my newest song “Be Mine”. It’s out on all the commercial platforms, Apple Music, Deezer, Google Music etc. I got in touch with my romantic side and I put that together.
I now realise that music is a part of me that I cannot deny or ignore. I love the music, so when I can, I will record new songs and I’ll put them out.
I don’t do it because I want to be a millionaire or the next rap star. I do it for the sheer love of music. I love being able to share my music and using my talent. That’s really the drive behind it and not because I want to make money off it.
Finding time to pursue your passion
I used to think that with all the things that I had on my plate, I was very busy but, interestingly, I still have time to write. It turns out that I am not as busy as I thought I was or that one can always make time for things that we are passionate about.
I wrote the cover for “Who Da Man” on the spur of the moment. It took me about 45 minutes to write the lyrics and I did that one night after work. I had the beat on repeat on the drive home and I just could not sleep because I was in the zone and the lyrics came pouring out.
My own songs sometimes take long. Coming up with the lyrics for “Oh Yeah” took quite a while because sometimes the inspiration would come and other times, it was a struggle.
I had a bit of writer’s block for my most recent song. I was struggling to find a chorus, a hook, a refrain. So I put it in the freezer for a while until King of Accra unlocked the song. I played it to him and the next day, he sent me a rough sketch of a hook he had thought of. That liberated the creative juices and I just sat down to write! I ended up writing the second verse one Saturday afternoon. With his help, we recorded at work during the week and it was all together.
I always have to make a conscious effort to ensure that I manage to steal an hour here and there out of my day. Sometimes that goes with the inspiration. A thought might come to my mind and I’ll write it down. Then I’ll write another one later and it eventually comes together.
It’s a deliberate process. I have to make the time to write, make the time to record and work on all aspects of producing the song. It’s tough work, but I guess that as an adult, you have to learn to multitask sometimes.
Being consistent with your art
I obviously cannot live the life of a professional musician. That’s out of the question because my plate is already full. So it’s just about going with the flow but still remaining consistent.
So I’m already thinking of the next song. I actually have a few songs in the pipeline that I will release when they’re done. My process is to just write the music, record the songs, then put them out there. Get people to stream, download, buy, whatever. I want to have some sort of consistency.
On the other hand, I do not want to flood the system with too many songs and then lose the element of surprise. A lot of people see me as a journalist, a research person, part-time lecturer, sports journalist and then I do the music. So I have to try and manage all these things very well.
I have to let people guess what I’m going to do next and keep surprising them with new songs. And then by the time you realize I have got a repertoire of songs. I am looking for that balance where I do not flood the market, but I don’t disappear either and keep dropping the songs as and when they become available.
Make time to pursue your passion
If you have a gift, you cannot deny it because it will keep calling out to you.
There was a time when I thought that making music would never be an option so I shut my eyes to the possibility. Deep down, I knew I could do it in my own little closet, but I never thought of sharing my music with others because I thought it would be a waste at the time.
But it kept calling out and I met the right person, King of Accra, who inspired me to share my music with the world. He provided me with technical help, encouraged and motivated me.
So if there’s a gift that you have, you have to respect that gift and you have to make time to nurture it. You will realize that when you work on your talent, you feel at home and that it comes easily to you. There is no stress and you enjoy actually doing it.
So just make time for that gift. Hone it and share it with the rest of the world. You never know where it will land you. You never know what it will do for you. Find some joy in doing things that you love and the things that come naturally to you.
This originally appeared on medium.com