Genesis Owusu: KCRW Guest DJ set

Written by Marion Hodges

The struggle is real, but the good times are realer with Anthony Valadez, Novena Carmel, and Genesis Owusu at KCRW HQ. Photo by Anna Chang.

Ghanian-Australian, singer-songwriter-rapper Genesis Owusu is nearly impossible to categorize. No simple genre tags fit his musically androgynous approach to songcraft exactly — his sound incorporates as many grungy guitar riffs as it does sick beats. It’s a big part of why each new Owusu release commands our full attention. 

His sophomore album STRUGGLER — due August 18 via Ourness/AWAL — appears on track to kick his ambitious musical style up several more notches. Naturally, we’re having Owusu take the guest DJ seat at KCRW HQ to break it all down with Morning Becomes Eclectic co-hosts Novena Carmel and Anthony Valadez. The three go deep on fashion (another area in which Owusu enjoys playing with androgyny), the classic cartoon influences that animate his wild stage show, and the heady literary inspiration behind the narrative of STRUGGLER.  

MBE has the US premiere of the album’s lead single "Leaving the Light,” and you can peep the video below along with other impactful cuts from Owusu’s life: Yves Tumor’s “Echolalia” which he singles out for being a body-mover that’s maintains an air of mystery; Korean-Australian hip-hop group on the come up, 1300; and the Lupe Fiasco classic that sends his nostalgia receptors into overdrive. 

We STRONGLY encourage catching Genesis Owusu live, and lucky for all of us he just announced his headlining North American tour. The festivities kick off in the fall and include an LA stop at the Fonda on Monday, November 6. 

Now, scroll on down for Owusu’s stellar song picks. 

Yves Tumor  – “Echolalia”

Genesis Owusu: Incredible, incredible artist. One of the singles from their latest album was called “Echolalia.” I've been listening to them for a long time and this felt like their poppiest track to date which was really cool to me because it’s still mysterious and grungy… but it makes me want to move my bot-taay. 

1300 – “Steve Jobs (Feat. Kwame)”

1300 are a Korean-Australian rap group who are quite new to the scene. This track is a track called “Steve Jobs,” which is a banger, and it features the Ghanaian-Australian artist Kwame.

Lupe Fiasco – “Kick, Push”

I remember when I was a kid, one of the first birthday presents my older brother got me was this really terrible mp3 player. I think it held like, like a maximum of like 25 songs. But because he was already producing at the time, that was the mp3 player that he put a beat on for me — the beat that I wrote my first verse to. So you know, history is what it is, and now I'm here. 

But one of the songs next to that first ever beat was “Kick, Push” by Lupe Fiasco. Ever since then Lupe Fiasco was a huge inspiration for me, and still is as a writer. He’s someone who builds concepts and makes puzzles with his words so he’s always been a huge inspiration.

Genesis Owusu – “Leaving the Light”

So my sophomore album, album number two — STRUGGLER by Genesis Owusu is out on August 18. It's a very literary album, and another narrative piece of mine. I dabbled with that in the last album, creating characters and stuff like that. But this one is more like it was inspired by books I was reading at the time — like “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, and plays that I was watching like “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett. So it's kind of like if absurdist literature was an album.

As is usual in Genesis Owusu fair, STRUGGLER traverses a lot of different sounds, moods, and textures. But it's narrated by a roach that’s trying to run and run and run… and trying not to get stepped on by God.

And the first chapter of STRUGGLER is called "Leaving the Light.”





Anna Chang