Exclusives Interviews 30 March 2021
Author: Olivia West

GRM Exclusive: Yaw Tog discusses debut EP ‘Time’, his meteoric rise & the Ghanaian Drill Scene

Author Olivia West
30 March 2021
Yaw Tog Interview

At the young age of 17, Yaw Tog, born Thorsten Owusu Gyimah (Tog), also known as ‘Young Bull’ has quickly become the poster boy for West African Drill following the release of the heavy hitting track “Sore” last year. Within a couple of months and millions of views, a righteous team up came along for the remix including our very own Stormzy, and figurehead Kwesi Arthur. We chatted with the Kumasi-based rapper to discuss his debut EP Time, his rise to the global stage and the evolving Asakaa drill scene. 

Your debut EP TIME has dropped after much anticipation, how does it feel to have it out there? 

“I am super happy about it! It is strange, I don’t know what to do because it’s obviously my first body of work, but mainly because it exposes who I am as an artist to a global audience. I sing, I rap, I do it all, so I’m just super excited to see everyones reaction!”

Let’s talk about the title, ‘Time’, because that is something that has been a big part of your journey. Timing has been impeccable, is this why you went with this title? 

“Yes and No! The main reason why it’s called Time is because I feel like it is literally, my time now. Things are working out great for me, and hard work has paid off. But when it came to the title of my EP, like I said its my first body of work, I had to think ‘what is my message?’. I want people to know that I’m not slowing down anytime soon, it’s my time and I just got to do the best I can with it!”

The EP hosts six tracks, including the big remix of “Sore” featuring Stormy and Kwesi Arthur, that must have been a mad link up! 

“It was crazy! You know, both of them are such important role models for me. Kwesi Arthur in particular really inspired me to get into music a couple of years ago as he is such a huge artist over here. I thank both of them for all of the support, it’s been more than I could have imagined.”

“Sore” caught fire late last year and has continued to build following the remix which is the lead single on the EP. Sore quite literally means ‘to rise’ which seems ironic for any of those who have been sleeping on the rise of asakaa drill. Rap music is nothing new in Ghana, but what is different about this new genre is the inspiration it takes from the US tastemakers following the late Pop Smoke.

The pioneers of the ever growing scene are referred to as the Kumerica boys – a collective of rappers based in the city of Kumasi. Kumerica, is a fusion of America and Kumasi, as the scene not only adopts the sounds of sinister drill beats, but take influence of the American lifestyle and fashion, Yet the genre stands in it’s own lane as they infuse local sounds and languages including Twi and Pidgin.

“It’s a brotherhood and a way of expressing. I remember making “Sore”, it was when the Kumerica movement started down here, and although loads of people were loving it, some weren’t. So one day, I thought ‘they need to wake up to our sound’, I heard the beat and then boom, here we are. 

“I usually write in English, and then naturally I just talk in slang when it feels right. I love to just jump on a beat in the studio, but to be honest, I am always writing. When I’m not at school I am working”.

How is it still navigating school while also juggling a music career? That must be a lot of pressure? 

“The first thing I’d say is, you just can’t control timing. Ha! It sounds like a lot to do, but I have a really great team around me that work really hard while I’m at school and keep me grounded. I pray a lot and give thanks to God for the blessings, god is really working. I don’t really feel the pressure, I am just doing what I love and I am going to just keep on with it, but I am looking forward to when I can focus on just music!”

How has the reception been, I bet everyone is proud and excited for what’s to come for you? 

“Yes definitely, everyone has been super supportive. “Golden Friends” is actually a song that I wrote for my friends, those that have seen the growth. That track is me giving back to them, for their support and love through the hard times to now you know? Things have changed so quickly, there’s hype and everyone is loving it here, which is so motivating for me”. 

How would you describe your sound? 

“You know, I couldn’t describe my sound like sonically, but my style is just story telling and drill just works for that. It captures what I am trying to express, but I don’t want to be one type you know? I want to keep jumping on different genres, I can do afro beats, I can do drill, I can try anything with the right story to tell.”

You can check out the full project here, including the leading single “Sore” ft. Stormzy and Kwesi Arthur. Be sure to check out our collection of hard drill tracks from around the world, right here.