November 2022


Digital Art

In Q2 2022 I received a mysterious email. The sender claimed to be from Apple and they wanted to work with me. But, I had to sign an NDA before they would tell me anything further. “Scam,” I thought immediately. Why on earth would anyone from Apple contact me for work?  Me, a Tema boy living in Ghana, West Africa, thousands of miles away from Cupertino? How was that even possible?

No way.

Despite the incredulousness I felt, I still decided to do some digging. I needed to be certain and call out these scammers for who they truly were. I wasn’t going to fall for their tricks. No chance; not this time. However, after a little bit of googling and some quick LinkedIn searches, I realized that the mystery emailer and her cc’d co-conspirators were actually real humans; not bots, not scammers but real life human beings. They were actual people who truly worked at Apple and genuinely wanted to work with me. Me!


This wasn’t just any regular commission: this was literally the company that made the computer and the OS which powers all the work I do. This was the company of Steve Jobs, one of my idols growing up. These folks made the iPhone for goodness sake. This was the biggest company in the entire world and they were reaching out to me?


After managing to gather myself, I responded to their email. Things moved at lightning speed after that: I signed an NDA, scheduled an introductory meeting, met the incredible team, discussed all the deliverables, agreed on timelines and dove into the work. It all felt surreal. It was like living my own version of the fabled Apple product stories, where crazy production deadlines had to be met without a single compromise in quality. 

“Sunsets, coastlines, quiet towns and rustling forests: Here’s a playlist dedicated to the mellow side of African music. No one style, no one era—but a feeling. Now sit back and watch the clock stop. Our editors update picks here now and then, so if you hear something you like, add it to your library.” 
- Apple Music

Why exactly was Apple reaching out you ask? 

So it turns out the Apple Music team was preparing to put out another of their iconic playlists. The playlist was called Chill Africa, and it was “dedicated to the mellow side of African music.” It was almost ready for prime time, but the crucial missing piece was the visual art.

According to team I interfaced with, they had scoured the internet, searching far and wide for artists whose work mirrored the overall feel of the playlist they were imagining. They did copious amounts of homework—this was abundantly clear to me because the decks they shared during our meetings had detailed notes on my work, the titles of pieces, where they’d been shown etc.—and someway somehow,  they chose AFROSCOPE ™

And just as I’d expected, the process would require several revisions, quick turnaround times and insane attention to detail. It was an unexpected project which really pushed me but best believe I was ready. Another thing it reinforced for me was this: You never know who’s watching. So keep grinding, leveling up your work and furthering your vision. 

Wins like these are validating for the work that I fight everyday to do. “Fight” because despite how far I’ve come after over a decade of creative work, some close family (and some naysayers) still question the value of the work I do. I’ll save that conversation for another day. For now let me leave you with the artwork I created for Apple Music and the Chill Africa playlist (below), which features songs by Tems, Wizkid, Amaarae, Burna Boy, Rema, Simi, Asa, Asake and several other amazing musicians.

Thank you.