Rocky Dawuni

In his native Ghana, Rocky Dawuni is much more than simply a pop star, serving as the country’s unofficial cultural ambassador and promoting a range of social reforms from HIV/AIDS prevention and ecological preservation to healthier cookstoves. But he’s still a pop star at heart, and he’s quite good at it. While he’s named his particular aesthetic “Afro-Roots,” his music isn’t as beholden to traditional styles as the handle suggests–on his new single “African Thriller” Dawuni uses the recursive, hip-winding rhythms of contemporary Jamaican dancehall as the foundation for a pile-up of reggae and jazzy Afrofunk tuned for maximum body-moving.

“‘African Thriller’ is a persona, a concept and a vision of what contemporary beauty and excitement will emerge from the confrontation and collision of cultures,” Dawuni writes in an email. “The video hints at historical and cultural signposts in a metaphoric expression of how the dance floor is one of the ultimate and most colorful places for global unity, celebration, and liberation.”