There really isn't an English translation for "Hence Opoku."
His emcee moniker is AON
, which expands out to Ambitious or Nothing, but the 16-year-old rapper's sensational appetite for success does not fully describe his character.
Maybe "prodigy" or "wonder child" would suffice.
The Ghana born, New York molded and Chicago raised rhymer reminds his manager, Neville "Bigman" Muir, of an artist the seasoned veteran knew from back in the day.
Now rapping under a different name, Wasalu Muhammad Jaco used to leave school in the afternoon with the same fire as Hence, the same ambition. Writing was the only thing that truly mattered. Spitting was what they wanted to do and both of their dreams revolved around microphone stands and instrumentals.
You probably know Wasalu; he's working on his third studio album under the stage name "Lupe Fiasco."
Making his way back into the music industry after a self-imposed hiatus, Bigman can only smile when he sits back and conjures up the similarities between the established artist and his potential successor.
Unlike with Lupe, however, Bigman can conceptualize a complete music renaissance centered on the Lincoln Park High School senior.
At first, his foresight might sound a little far fetched, as it did a few weeks ago in a Downtown Chicago studio where AON and co. spent their Friday night working on some new tracks.
In a dominating Jamaican accent, Bigman talked of revolution.
He visualized the reemergence of what he calls "real" music in almost perfect clarity.
Big bass, deep lyrics, and songs that everyone can vibe with.
Hip hop as a dense culture, not a diluted music form.
No more cliques.
No more boundaries.
No more ignorance.
When he finishes talking and the soft hum of activity buzzing around the studio settles back in, it is evident that Bigman has spent a lot of time thinking about this Utopia.
More importantly, he has spent a lot time diligently analyzing AON and the young emcee's place in hip hop.
The music speaks for itself. His lyrics are ripe with potential and his commitment to constantly better his game place the rhymer on the inside track. His new single Doin' it Big was released on June 6 and is available for download on iTunes.
On top of ability, the Uptown resident has already sparked global interest. His single "My Girl" featuring a catchy hook by singer Iyaz gets regular spins in Europe and Africa (think "Beautiful Girls" by Sean Kingston mixed with "Nothing on You" by B.o.B and Bruno Mars.). Interviews on Ghanaian talk shows and concerts at Usain Bolt's estate, AON has participated in both, appear to be only the beginning.
But that night in the studio a few weeks ago, none of this seemed to faze the surprisingly youthful teenager.
At times he appeared more concerned with a party later that night than with his mixtape that's scheduled to drop at any moment.
Titled "Young World," the mixtape is hosted by DJ Green Lantern and is not only highly anticipated because of its tracklist. This mixtape could potentially define what will come of the AON experiment.
If it produces the expected reaction and pushes his buzz over the top, the teen will officially begin his climb into the higher ranks of hip hop. A C.D., which is already in the works, will soon follow.
Then more talk shows.
More "real" music.
But, according to the manager, this must all happen in a matter of months.
AON will turn 17 in October and... well, as Bigman puts it, "From a marketing standpoint, there's a difference between a 16-year-old rapper and a 17 year-old-rapper."
Friday night is quickly slipping away and no one in the studio seems to notice or care.
At least not at this moment.
Only about a dozen eyes are still in the studio and each one of them is focused on the teenager scribbling away at a sheet of loose-leaf paper.
He's been hunched over for about 15 minutes now and the beat has already looped a few times.
Even the synthesizer and psychedelic sounds coming from the speaker are not enough to stir them from their concentration.
Everyone is anxious, in a Christmas Eve kind of way.
The eyes speak awkwardly over the banging instrumentals, simply killing time before the kid opens his mouth.
They know it is going to be fire, some inferno type heat.
Some nod your head; tap your feet type flow.
That make you think, won't let you blink spit.
Some of that Artistic Utopia, Renaissance type rap.
But for now, until he's truly ready, they are all patient.
Waiting for it all to translate.
Find all of AON's tracks and more here.