Benjamin Lebrave

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participation in

  • WOMEX 2017
  • WOMEX 2012
  • WOMEX 2011
  • WOMEX 2009

Benjamin has long been a fervent musical explorer. As a DJ, he could never find much satisfaction in sticking to popular and recognizable sounds, instead venturing deeper into obscure grooves and experimenting with different regional genres. Doing business development for a top digital music distributor, he also did not find much comfort in sticking to top 40 territory, instead tracking the latest long-tail micro-trends in both music and the business of music.

The DJ knew what sounded good, the biz dev guy knew how to make it available. With both sides of the brain restless and in constant alert, it was only a matter of time before Benjamin would get into a style of music which was, simply, amazing but unavailable.

And this style was Hiplife. The contemporary Ghanaian descendant of Highlife, a mish-mash of hip hop, dancehall and calypso with more traditional Ghanaian rhythms. Loud sound system party music. Yet a style of music hardly available outside of Ghana. Benjamin could not dream of a greater excuse to go to Accra and see what was going on there, and why this music was still not available outside of Africa.

And what a trip. With a knack for traveling and a strong drive to share his love of music, Benjamin went to Ghana. And then he went back again, this time also checking out Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast, Benin and Togo. There he met with dozens and dozens of talented yet isolated musicians. He heard their music on the radio, in clubs and in recording studios. He explained his vision and listened to their needs and desires. Together they shared meals in their homes, and exchanged thoughts during the endless commute through gridlocked African capitals. Benjamin discovered new trends and old styles, putting in all of his heart and talent in connecting the dots between these local artists and music fans worldwide.

But Benjamin is not only a chameleon music-loving traveler. Born and raised in Paris, France, in 2003 he graduated from ENSAE (Paris Tech), one of France’s top graduate schools, with a double master’s degree in economics and statistics. Rather than further his education with a PhD at an Ivy League school in the US, he chose to put aside his not-so-funky background to follow his passion: music. Yet his strong analytical skills and work ethics are never that far away, and come in handy on a daily basis to ensure Akwaaba’s smooth operation. Speaking fluent French and English also helps. And being able to schmooze in Spanish and Portuguese doesn’t hurt much either.

You can contact Benjamin – in any of these languages – by emailing him at – you can also try another language and see what happens.

Benjamin Lebrave

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