The Quiet Cool of Marince Omario

As Africans, our identity and culture mean a lot to us. It seeps into almost everything we do and some of Africa’s greatest acts like Burna Boy, Wikzid are balancing a love for their heritage with present-day experiences to share relevant and modern perspectives we all love hearing about and dancing to. The same can be said of our nu generation of stars. As Bob Marley sang, ‘In this bright future, you can’t forget your past’ and currently some of the continent’s brightest breakout stars, acts like Kidi or Amaarae are utilizing legendary inspirations and revamping traditional genres like highlife and Afrobeat to craft their own unique stories.

One such musician laying his foundation between his past and his present all while delivering great music is Marince Omario. Merging an ear for stripped beats and traditional Ga rhythms, emerging Ghanaian rapper Marince Omario effortlessly glides between the genres of trap, hiplife, and R&B to create his own brand of Alt-Afro music.

Marince’s music has a certain teleportation quality. On his debut tape, Oblitey the self-proclaimed rockstar took us on a journey through the ups and downs of every day from a young hustler’s perspective. Easy, breezy melodies on tracks like The Coast transported us straight to Accra’s sandy beaches with one or two rolls in hand whereas the modern medley of trap-leaning sounds on  Ramblers pulled us down a rabbit hole of blurry nights with the boys.

His latest release Tsotsoo named after his late grandma Margaret TsoTsoo Quarco revealed a reflective and witty side to Marince’s music-making process. Through the 5 track long project, Marince meets himself between celebratory funeral rites, the hardships of a corrupt policing system, his quest to find the perfect lover, and the desire to give back to the community currently holding him down, all to honor the upbringing of his late grandma gave him.

Kicking off the project is Mkpai, which directly translates to libation in the Ga language, Marince prepares the stage to honor his ancestors for their lives and their guidance. Right after is Gbonyo Party which cleverly plays on the conflicting aspects of funeral rites as instances of both mourning and celebration. Maintaining the humor Ga people are notoriously known for, Marince details a growing infatuation with a woman dancing seductively at the funeral,’She dey whine and move like snake’, despite her heavy sorrow-filled crying from before. Maintaining his versatile abilities, Marince even delivers his take of Afrobeats with an upbeat but insightful record titled Koti that shares his and his family’s encounters with Ghana’s relentless police force.

Now, catching up with no 30 on iMullar 2021 list for “Ones to Watch Out for”, iMullar probed the promising young rapper about his identity, what he thinks the Ghanaian creative industry needs, and how being an alternative musician has helped him honor his roots.

M-For the people that don’t know you yet, what kind of musician is Marince Omario?

Marince Omario is a Ghanaian rapper and singer who tries to implement his style in a unique way to get a different sound. Anywhere I find myself,  I want to be identified as an African. I want to employ that element of my identity in everything I do.

M-Your voice is the perfect match for these lo-fi and experimental beats though the productions you use sometimes borrow from African sounds, how did you find this unique sound?

I like to create sounds that play with the balance of previous and contemporary Ga music. That bridge between the old and the new. Whether it’s employing a language or a particular instrument, I make sure to have that in the sound. When you look back at our history and the contributions of Ga people to popular music in Ghana, we have people like E.T. Mensah, Adane Best, etc. Presently we see people like Gasmilla, Tinny, and Darkovibes popularizing and pushing the Ga sound and I want to be able to do that too. In our history, there were even Ga people who were directly exposed to western culture and influences as a result of the slave trade and our history of living on the coast. So with my sound, I try to express these features of our past and present in my music by channeling these influences.

M-With this slightly off-center sound, what do you hope to bring to the music industry with your craft? 

Looking at the industry right now, I hope to be that plug to the mainstream. I want to popularize unique sounds. Alternative African music needs better projection. In the mainstream, most of us are used to the afro-pop, the dancehall, highlife sounds which is great but when you look at the past Ghanaians listened to artists like Kojo Antwi, Daddy Lumba. When you listen to them carefully,  you realize we had these rich African jazz music, pop-leaning sounds so with my music, I want to bring back this kind of variety to the industry. Like after we dance and all that I go fi to give them that same vibe where we go take it to the beachside and chill.

M-What do you think Ghanaians can do to support the creation of different soundscapes in Ghana?

Firstly, I think Ghanaians should consider the fact that there are alternative artists. Give new musicians the chance to share their craft with you. When you find out about an underground artist, support them, buy their merch and go out to their shows regardless of their streaming numbers. I think all of us being more curious and invested in our emerging artists will help our industry grow.

M-As a Ga musician who sings and raps in their native language, why didn’t you go the regular route of Afrobeats in Ghana?

We all know Ga people like to jam and dance but I felt like it is only right that I tried to popularize other sounds and moods in our native language. Like you’ll go to Ga, you go to  Jamestown, you hear all the nice Asorkpor* (rapid yet melodic riddims) and I think that if you want to make some nice trap, hip hop, drill, soul or whatever you fi get some nice Ga tune to go with it. Musicians like Adane Best and E.T. Mensah were very soulful but people still loved them and they were successful in the end. So again, why shouldn’t I try to be that balance between these worlds? I feel like my music captures the natural luxury of the Gold Coast. Luxury that you do not have to pay so much money for but still makes you comfortable and feel at ease. Like it’s made for you. It’s yours.

M-Who or What are some of your inspirations?

Like I said I have a lot of admiration for E.T. Mensah, Adane Best. For my modern-day influences, I enjoy Yaa Pono, Travis Scott, Wizkid, Rema, and of course Darkovibes for taking Ga music to more Ghanaians.

M-Your heritage keeps coming up in this interview, how and why do you keep making music to honor that?

First of all, I am driven by greatness. I love to honor great things. Anytime people tell me they like my sound or they enjoy the way I speak my Ga or how I use my words, I think back to when I stayed with my grandma. With the advice she gave me and all the experiences I had, I genuinely feel like she is one of my biggest inspirations. So I cannot always take the glory alone. And like I believe in the power of music. Right now, I might not be able to build her a statue but at least through my music, I can show that chale like everyone will get to know that this be some great woman and she raised me well. Not just my grandma alone but like Ga people in general. When people come to Accra, Oxford Street is this creative hub. Like everything dey there some, casinos, clubs, markets, etc. In case, everything fades and these places disappear or are taken over, what are we doing to make sure we don’t forget?

M-Finally, what’s next for Marince Omario?

I want to explore more genres like drill, pop, and reggae-dancehall but the Damien Marley or Chronixx kind of reggae dancehall. I am still experimenting for now and I don’t think I’d stop anytime soon. I’d love to work with Future, EFYA, FOKNBOIS, Amaarae, Koffee, and Wizkid

Intentionally or not, Marince is doing something special with his music and building off his 2020 momentum, the quiet cool of Marince Omario is catching on. From appearances at popular shows like MerchMania to a steadily growing cult of fans, Marince Omario is taking his time to craft soundscapes where the past is always honored and never forgotten.

The iMullar is the definitive voice of emerging African music and the lifestyle that surrounds it, showcasing exceptional talent from all around the globe focused on promoting the most distinctive new artists and original sounds, we are the authority on who is next.