INTERVIEW | NICOLE AMARTEIFIO DISCUSSES HER EMPOWERING ANTHEM ‘BIRTHDAY D’


Intro­du­cing Nicole Amarteifio, bet­ter known as Amer­ley, a dynam­ic force in the world of TV writ­ing and music. As the cre­at­or of the acclaimed series “An Afric­an City,” Nicole has already made a sig­ni­fic­ant impact on Afric­an storytelling. Now, with the release of her debut track “Birth­day D,” she is ven­tur­ing into the music industry with a power­ful mes­sage of sexu­al empower­ment and self-accept­ance. In this exclus­ive inter­view, Nicole dis­cusses her inspir­a­tion, the influ­ence of Megan Thee Stal­lion, and how her Ghanai­an her­it­age shapes her artist­ic jour­ney. Join us as we delve into the vibrant world of Amer­ley and explore her mis­sion to amp­li­fy the voices of female artists from West Africa.

Con­grat­u­la­tions on the release of Birth­day D! Can you tell us about the inspir­a­tion behind this track and how Megan Thee Stal­lion influ­enced its creation?

Im a TV writer and film­maker. Dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, the film­ing of my show, An Afric­an City, was put on pause. And anoth­er show I was work­ing on with comedi­an ID James Brown for Tre­vor Noahs pro­duc­tion com­pany was also dropped. Those two things broke my heart, espe­cially hap­pen­ing at the same time. I was hurt­ing and I wanted to write but, at the time, I couldnt turn to anoth­er film or TV script. So, I turned to some­thing else. I turned to writ­ing lyrics. 

Around that time, it felt like every­one was talk­ing about Megan Thee Stal­lions song Body. I heard it. I clutched my pearls. But, the next day I listened to it again. And again. And again. And I noticed the song was help­ing bring out a new level of con­fid­ence with­in me. I used that con­fid­ence to start writ­ing vari­ous songs. Before I knew it, I had a whole alter ego that was the anti­thes­is of me: Amer­ley. My Ga name. I can be very insec­ure, but this alter ego was strong, con­fid­ent, and bold. She loved her­self, without any pause or hes­it­a­tion. It was the type of con­fid­ence — type of self-love — that I want all women to feel. Thats the spir­it in which I write these songs. Thanks, Megan!

Birth­day Dis a cel­eb­ra­tion of sexu­al empower­ment and self-accept­ance. How do you hope this mes­sage will res­on­ate with your listen­ers, espe­cially women across dif­fer­ent continents?

In Birth­day D, the woman knows exactly what she wants and isnt afraid to say it. Glob­ally, there is so much shame around sex, but, in this song, there is no shame, there is no judg­ment, and there is so much free­dom in that. I just want listen­ers of this song to feel that: free­dom. Know what you want, and have fun declar­ing exactly what it is that you want.

As a TV writer based in Accra, what made you decide to ven­ture into the music industry? How has your back­ground in TV writ­ing influ­enced your songwriting?

An Afric­an Citywas dubbed by CNN and BBC as Africas answer to Sex and the City.I looked into the lives of five Ghanai­an-Amer­ic­an women, raised abroad, who came back to the Afric­an con­tin­entlook­ing for love. The show looked at the lives of these women, their love lives, their sex lives. I was very proud of the show because I felt like it was the first time the sex lives of Ghanai­an women were being explored fully on screen. When I was part of the writ­ing team for The Best Man, I was teased because most of my pitches were about sex. I was once deeply reli­gious, so I guess now Ive gone to the fraternal twin of spir­itu­al­ity: sexu­al­ity. It was a part of me that needed to heal from some of that reli­gi­os­ity that asso­ci­ated sex with shame. I no longer want to be ashamed, and my TV writ­ing reflec­ted that, my song­writ­ing does too. 

Your vibrant bows sym­bol­ise your Ghanai­an roots. How import­ant is it for you to incor­por­ate your cul­tur­al her­it­age into your music and persona?

I love being Ghanai­an. I was born in Ghana, but raised abroad. Abroad, Ghana always felt like my true home. I am so proud of the coun­try and its role in his­tory, wheth­er thats being the first Afric­an nation to achieve inde­pend­enceor the role of that inde­pend­ence in the civil rights move­ment in Amer­icathe role of that inde­pend­ence in inspir­ing oth­er Afric­an nations to fight for their own inde­pend­ence. I love our stor­ies, our stor­ies are so rich. I love our cus­toms, our culture.
At the same time, I was raised in Amer­ica, so I cant deny the part of me that is Amer­ic­an. As a Ghanai­an-Amer­ic­an, my song­writ­ing reflects these two cul­tures com­ing togeth­er. The music is Amer­ic­an, in that some of it is a reflec­tion of the Amer­ic­an artists I grew up on: TLC, Foxy Brown, Salt N Pepa. At the same time, if Im ever in a party in New York or Los Angeles, I would love for a song of mine to come on and for half the room to break out in a song, sung or rapped in a Ghanai­an dia­lect such as Twi or Ga.

The songs I write are a mar­riage of the two cul­tures, Ghanai­an and Black American.

Fea­tur­ing rising tal­ents Schia and Titi Owusu, Birth­day Daims to be the new birth­day anthem. How did this col­lab­or­a­tion come about and what was it like work­ing with them?

Enter: Jayso. Jayso was the music super­visor for An Afric­an City. Jayso is not only an amaz­ing music pro­du­cer, but an amaz­ing per­son. Any­time I want to do some­thing in music I call him and hes always there to offer a lot of sup­port. He intro­duced me to both Schia. I met Titi Owusu when she was per­form­ing at a friends wed­ding, I fell in love imme­di­ately. Wow! Both Schia and Titi are two artists who I feel the whole world needs to know about. Its been a pleas­ure to work with both of them. I love hav­ing a front row seat to their talent.

Jayso, one of Ghanas most sought-after pro­du­cers, pro­duced your debut track. How did this col­lab­or­a­tion enhance the pro­duc­tion of Birth­day D?

We wouldnt have Birth­day D without Jayso com­ing up with the beat and identi­fy­ing the artists who could truly bring the song to life.

Soci­et­al stig­mas around sex can be quite strong. What chal­lenges have you faced in address­ing these top­ics in your music and how do you hope to chal­lenge and change these perceptions?

Ten years ago, when I first came out with An Afric­an City, I remem­ber see­ing a blog post from a Kenyan pas­tor who com­pletely rebuked the show. He felt my focus on the sexu­al lives of Ghanai­an women was a dis­ser­vice to women as a whole. I feel like my focus on the sexu­al lives of Ghanai­an women helps be a mir­ror to women as a whole. It helps all women see what they might want to unlearn about their sexu­al edu­ca­tion and, in that unlearn­ing, we find our true selves.

Tell us more about the exclus­ive pre-release party at LEVEL UP in Labone. What can fans expect from this event and how will it set the stage for the glob­al debut of Birth­day D?

It was so much fun! A huge thank you to Kwame Eric Goka, who I con­sider the god­fath­er of night­life in Accra. If youre in Ghana, you have to check out his place, but, yeah, Eric is such a sup­port­er and let me launch my first song at his ven­ue. It was a lot of fun. It was a karaōke night, so we were all just singing our hearts out. Inspired by an old photo from my child­hood, Amer­ley, the song­writer in me, wears bows in her hair. Some of the guests also showed up with bows in their hair. The bows are a remind­er that there was a young­er ver­sion of ourselves that deserved to learn about sex in a healthy and pos­it­ive way. And now, as grown women, we have agency to make sure we look at sex in the health­i­est and most pos­it­ive way. Thats what the bows are about: aremind­er.

Youve men­tioned plans to spot­light female artists from West Africa in your future releases. Why is it import­ant to you and how do you plan to sup­port and col­lab­or­ate with these artists?

When I did An Afric­an City, it was not just a TV show — it was a move­ment. It was about show­cas­ing the beauty and the tal­ent from Ghana. It was about the incred­ible act­ors: MaameY­aa Boafo, Nana Mensah, Mar­ie Hum­bert, Esosa E, and Maame Adjei. It was about high­light­ing the best of our night­life. It was about the fash­ion and it was about the music, the artists of these songs that most of the world — includ­ing those in the Afric­an Dia­spora — were hear­ing for the first time. We have so much tal­ent here, tal­ent that even Ghanai­ans are unaware about — that needs to change.

But, I want to make a point here, that its not just about the cre­at­ive side of this tal­ent, but the busi­ness side of this tal­ent. I want these artists to thrive and I believe they will thrive if they under­stand the busi­ness side of their pas­sion. Im cur­rently being ment­ored by the Stan­ford SEED Entre­pren­eur­ship pro­gram and my ment­or is help­ing guide me through the busi­ness side of music. With all this great tal­ent, the busi­ness side of this tal­ent can be a great factor in our nations devel­op­ment. In Niger­ia, I believe film is the second biggest employ­er after agri­cul­ture. I won­der what role music plays in employ­ment and in eco­nom­ic growth, I can ima­gine the poten­tial being significant.

Look­ing ahead, what can fans expect from you in terms of new music and pro­jects? How do you see your music evolving in the com­ing years?

Expect an album, with many more female artists from Ghana. In short, when one thinks of rap, I want him or her to think about female rap­pers from Ghana. The female rap­pers I have met here, I dont want the world to ignore them. Mak­ing sure they are heard, this motiv­ates me.

BIRTHDAY D IS OUT NOW Listen Here

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.