While computer generated playlists on Spotify and Apple music are great, do they truly cater to the core essence of your musical palette? Do they bring you something original and fresh from the African continent and its diaspora? A stream of music meticulously curated by passionate music lovers like yourself? Do they generate these and other initiatives through culture, art and music with the core goal of giving back to their community?
Nah. They don't. 'Cause they're not Brenu & Odera from Work In Title.
Join us on this special Music Segment as we learn more about the co-founders of this creative culture brand. We dive into how their love of music inspired them to create this platform and how its fostering a community around the world.
How do you both know each other? Tell us about your friendship and where it started.
Brenu: We met through mutual friends essentially back in 2020, right around the time Covid was hitting. One of my closest friends was building their friendship with one of his close friends at the time, so Odera and I ended up in overlapping post-quarantine cocoons and began to grow our friendship from there. I would say we have really gotten to know each other a lot better since deciding to collaborate on the playlist, through constant conversations and idea exchanges over the past year. It's been a fun organic journey for us!
When would you say your love of music began for each of you? Paint us a picture of each of your stories.
Odera: Music has always been a deeply rooted passion of mine. From a young age, I was exposed to a variety of genres, and it quickly became a significant part of my life. My uncle's playlist featuring Celine Dion, Sade, Kenny G, and Lionel Richie opened my mind to the beauty of music. Even though we rarely played Afrobeats at home, I found myself captivated by the smooth rhythms of chill R&B, blues, and jazz. As I grew older and moved to Italy, my passion for music only intensified. Hearing the iconic Eros Ramazzotti's melodies around the house only reinforced my belief that music transcends cultures and languages, connecting people on a deeper level. I spent countless hours playing DJ, mixing and blending Afrobeats, American R&B, and Italian R&B. The thrill of discovering new sounds became an addiction, and my heart was soon captured by dancehall's irresistible beats in my early twenties. Yet, despite my love for dancehall, it was the discovery of Afrobeats that brought me back home. My passion for music reignited, and I spent countless hours on Spotify, exploring new and unheard sounds from Africa. My love for music is so profound that I couldn't stop, and my playlist grew and grew with every new discovery.
Brenu: For me it definitely stems from my childhood. I grew up in a household where music was always playing. My mother’s musical tastes tended to skew more Western, so from about age 5 or 6 I can recall learning lessons of love, longing and life through teachers like Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Madonna, Ace of Base, and others. My favorite was Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds....he always seemed to be very rational in his explanations and expectations of love, and I think that resonated with me for some reason. At the very least, it was easy for me to understand. Whenever we took a ride in the car, however, classes on classic Ghanaian highlife music would be in session at the hands of my father. Vibrant offerings came across the speakers from Daddy Lumba, “Iron Boy” Amakye Dede, Nana Achaempong, Paapa Yankson, and Kojo Antwi.
When my parents were not playing DJ, the radio was kind of always on (both at the house and in the car), and this gave me my first exposure to two things. Firstly, what is considered a classic? I began to understand that some songs were older than me but lived on through radio playback. They still sounded good several years/decades later, immortalizing them forever as they reached future generations. The second concept that radio schooled me on was contemporary pop(ular) music. The initial form of going "viral" I guess. This idea that a song could be of such modern design and/or so captivating to current audiences that it got repeated airplay simply because so many people loved hearing it. Essentially a consensus on what a "good" song is. Obviously my viewpoint on song quality determination has shifted from these criteria since then, but that's a discussion for another day haha. Long story long, my early experience is definitely responsible for my musical passion and ongoing penchant for always seeking out and resonating with a wide variety of sounds.
We are very curious, what is ‘Work in Title’ all about?
Both: If you're wondering about the name "Work in Title," it wasn't something we came up with overnight. In fact, it was a name that evolved organically over time. Initially, we struggled to find a name that resonated with us, and we thought "Working Title" would be a fitting name since it accurately reflected what the playlist was for us at the time. As time went on, we grew to appreciate the name's tongue-in-cheek quality and its deeper meaning. Just like how we are all works in progress, the playlist too is always evolving and changing. Eventually, we decided to rebrand it to "Work in Title" to add even more value and to set ourselves apart. Despite the effort that went into choosing a name, putting together the playlist has never felt like work for us. It has always been a passion project and something we enjoy doing every week. If it ever stops being fun, we will know it's time to pivot and find new ways to breathe life into it or pursue other projects. At the core of it all, "Work in Title" represents our dedication to creating something that we love and enjoy, and we will always stay true to that.
What goal do you wish to achieve with this weekly playlist?
Both: Our bio is a great starting point, but we want to be clear about our ultimate goal: to build a community around music and provide people with the opportunity to discover sounds they've never heard before. We believe that music is a powerful tool for connecting people, regardless of their location or circumstances. At the heart of our venture is a commitment to fostering creativity and collaboration. We want to create a platform where like-minded individuals can exchange ideas and build meaningful connections. We hope to achieve this through our carefully curated playlist and by hosting events that attract people with similar energy and interests. For us, music is more than just a form of entertainment. It's a way to bring people together, to break down barriers and create something new. We want to be a part of that movement and contribute to the growth of a community that is passionate about music and making a positive impact.
Odera, you are a data driven individual. Where does your love of data come from? Did you ever feel like you had to choose between data driven fields and the creative world growing up?
Honestly, data was not always my first choice. Growing up, I was always interested in fashion and other creative fields. However, coming from an African household, pursuing those passions was not always an option. Plus, as an only child, I felt a responsibility to make sure I had a solid plan for taking care of my mother as she got older. It was not until after graduating from college that I realized that both worlds - data and creativity - can actually be synonymous. I discovered that I can play the role of a curator by connecting my data-driven skills of collecting and analyzing data to understand what people like and using that to inform my creative pursuits. In essence, I believe that data can help to enhance creativity and enable more informed decision-making, and I am excited to continue exploring this intersection.
Brenu, you made community building central to what you do in your healthcare and project management fields. What impact did your community have on you growing up that made you want to ‘carry the torch’?I think community has always been a big part of my life. My dad used to travel a lot for work and I was always a very playful extroverted kid who liked to get outside and interact with other people. That was my first taste of community, friends and elders in my neighborhood that looked out for me. When my parents got divorced (I was almost 14), I realized that I had a community of cousins, aunts, uncles and school teachers who held me up and were invested in my growth. I remember one time I overheard my Aunt telling a visiting guest that she had seen my literature assignments and I was a super-talented writer. I had no idea that that was something anyone thought about me, I just went to school, did the work and then came home. It was something that stuck with me, and my aunt put me in programs and positions to really grow that skill in a way that enabled it to flourish further and essentially gain me acceptance into several universities. I also learned at some point that you cannot just take. It’s important to give to others and genuinely from your heart without expecting anything back. Just be good to people and let that energy seep into any community you are a part of. It’s the only way this community thing truly works. So if you think about it, that’s kind of how we approach the playlist. We don’t want or need anything back from anyone. We just want to put our heads down and sow the seeds of music that we feel deeply into the community, with the hopes that the community feels and enjoys it too. Whenever we get feedback that the playlist is “just what I needed today” or “came right on time”, we know we are uplifting people in those moments and it’s very fulfilling to be able to play that small role in their lives, even if it’s just for a day.
In the year or so you both have been doing this, who is your favorite African inspired artist you’ve discovered so far and why?
Brenu: Oh man haha tough. Through the playlist, I’ve become a big fan of Blaqbonez. I think he’s a super-talented and creative rapper out of Nigeria who’s not afraid to take risks. Melodically, I'm a huge fan of up-and-comer Lasmid from Ghana. I really like what he’s doing in the space. There’s also a Nigerian crooner named Oladapo who caught my ear, and he collaborated with a Soulection DJ from Ghana named Hagan on a song called “The Heart '' which was one of my favorite moments from 2022. It’s always a great feeling when two artists you love work together. It feels like an acknowledgement to each other that each of them is doing great work that the other respects, and also a nod to you as the fan who treasured them each individually. That whole “Textures” album from Hagan is just insane, and I love the way he infuses traditional highlife production as well as actual Twi ad-libs on an international stage. It’s really really dope. On a broader level, Odera and I have both really enjoyed watching the artists like BNXN (Buju), Ruger, Zinoleesky, and Ayra Starr build and grow organically. They have been persistently present and creative over the past year and we can see how that’s paying off for them, they’re really taking off. Lastly, I didn't discover these two through the playlists, but I can’t get out of here without mentioning Rema and Medikal, two of my favorite artists period for the past few years.
Odera: So, I have to tell you, BNXN (aka Buju) is hands down my favourite artist this year! I mean, Buju's already known for being smooth as silk, but what really got me hooked was his album Sorry I Am Late. Funny thing is, it actually came out in 2021, but I didn't discover it until midway through 2022. Let me tell you, every single track on that album is pure gold. What draws me to Buju's music is the way he manages to connect with your soul through his beats and rhythm. His sound is the perfect combination of mellow and chill rap, with a global appeal that I don't think everyone's fully tuned into just yet. Trust me, give Buju a listen and you won't regret it.
Of the two of you, who would be a better DJ if they were put on the spot at a house party?
Brenu: On the spot? Haha I give that to Odera. I’m sensitive, I don’t want the pressure. Truly you can’t please everyone in the room ever but some people are really good about understanding exactly what songs to play in the moment. I prefer the careful mining and constant playback activity that goes into my weekly arranging of songs for our playlists. That’s more my speed.
Odera: Without a doubt, I would definitely be the better DJ if put on the spot at a house party. In fact, during the pandemic, my close group of friends would gather every Friday evening at a friend's place. We would order food, and I would always be in charge of the aux. My friends even gave me the nickname "DJ Nyquill." To be honest, I think the name comes from my ability to go from playing bangers and making people dance to playing something mellow that would put people to sleep. But I promise, if I was on a stage, I could get the crowd moving and keep the energy up all night long.
What is one African or African diaspora song that brings back total nostalgia for each of you?
Brenu: I have two. “Kwame Nkrumah” by Obrafuor who is my favorite HipLife artist of all time (and arguably the greatest). It brings me back to being a kid in Ghana and first being exposed to our version of rap. I was like whoa I don’t understand everything he’s saying but from a technical standpoint this is very tight. This man truly understands rap, this is a classic hip-hop song in Twi. It’s perfection, still even today. The second song I think about is “1er Gaou” by Magic System. That song (another one I didn’t fully understand) was probably the first African classic I saw reverberate across a global stage and touch several countries and people. When it comes on, the reaction is instant, people just start dancing and more importantly, it makes everyone in the room very happy. The energy is infectious. Shout out to Cote d’Ivoire man! That song different.
Odera: There's one African song that brings back so many memories and fills me with nostalgia every time I hear it - Ojuelegba by Wizkid. This song truly takes me back home to Lagos, Nigeria, where I was born and partially raised. The music video was even shot in the neighborhood of Ojuelegba, which is close to where I grew up.The song represents the dreams and aspirations of every young Nigerian kid in Lagos, including myself. It's a reminder of the community I grew up in, where despite the challenges and struggles, we were always striving to achieve our goals and make our families proud. There's a part of the song that says "See eh, e kira fun mummy mi o Ojojumo lo n s’adura", which means "Praise my mum, she prays every day". This line really resonates with me, as it reflects the importance of family and community in Nigerian culture, and the role that prayer plays in our lives.
What makes ‘Work in Title’ different to other African inspired musical playlists?
Brenu: I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find another playlist on Spotify that gives you 20 unique songs every single week. Most playlists on Spotify tend to refresh weekly, adding some new songs, removing some old ones, but a good number of songs just remain week to week. We are like nah, let’s do a full refresh every single week and I think that’s pretty cool. That’s our unique value.
We would love to tune in to the next playlist, how can we follow you?
You can find a new playlist on our Spotify Work In Title every Friday. We also encourage you to follow us on Instagram to keep up to date with what's happening on our platform.
Thank you Brenu & Odera for giving us insight into your worlds and for sharing your passion for music and community with us. Be sure to tune in to Work In Title's playlist every Friday for your weekly dose of original songs from Africa and the diaspora.
Learn more about the Co-founders & Work In Title here:
Brenu Nsiah has been a music lover for as long as he can remember. His early exposure to music ignited a passion and hunger that still lives on today and can be seen in Work in Title - the Afro/Alte-driven playlist series he co-founded alongside his dear friend Odera Ubaka. Professionally, Brenu has held an array of positions with organizations in both North America and Africa, with a focus in both healthcare and creative project management, operations and strategy. He holds a Masters in Healthcare Administration as well PMP certification, and brings his community-building approach and strategic organizational capabilities to any venture he involves himself in to help drive roadmapping and execution for success. He is a proud Ghanaian who currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.
Meet Odera, a multi-talented creative director with a unique perspective on media and fashion. Born in Nigeria and raised in Italy, Odera's exposure to different cultures and artistic expressions greatly influenced his creative vision. He is a highly talented and versatile creative director with a passion for data-driven decision-making, fashion, and film. His ability to inspire and innovate in his field has enabled him to bring new ideas and perspectives to the table with every project he takes on. He currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.
Work In Title is a creative culture brand that is OBSESSED with fostering community through art, innovation, conversations, representation and solution-building. Our starting point in March 2022 was the curation of a weekly playlist of the same name (Work in Title) that continues to be released every Friday and has the unique quality of being a completely refreshed listening experience i.e. 20 different songs in each edition. We focus on providing exposure to lesser known Afro-Alte artistes on the continent as well as from the Diaspora, while still saving space for releases from our pioneers and giants who have paved the way. Our goal is to expand our reach and platform to provide meaningful opportunities for self-expression and network-building within our community and beyond through targeted events and partnerships.