With the feel good song “Feels”, M.anifest continues to show why he is one of the predominant rappers on the hip hop scene in Ghana. He brings lyricism and punchlines to a catchy tune that’s backed by percussion that makes you wanna bob your head and/or dance along. He is joined by Kwesi Arthur on the track, which was released as a single in 2018.
M.anifest speaks about what it “Feels” like to have finally made it after everything he has been through and seen in life. Throughout the song he creates a back and forth between these two dynamics: then and now. With lines like “The road has be rocky, ASAP. Now know royalties, ASCAP.” M.anifest tells the story of his come up, reflects on the time that has passed and all that he has learned in the process. Conceptually it is a theme that appears frequently in hip-hop, but M.anifest’s approach is somehow different. It is not boastful or showy, but to the contrary it is reflective and beautifully simple. The tone eloquently expresses the thankfulness and gratitude that the artist has, which gives a level of genuineness that cannot be faked.
The chorus sings “Oh Lord what a feeling” (sung by rising star Kwesi Arthur), and it is immediately clear that anyone who has “made it through” will identify with this song. M.anifest and Arthur are clearly aware of this as they create a hook that is easy to sing along to and almost dares you (if you are a believer) not proclaim “I feel blessed” and give glory to God for what He has done in your life and what He has brought you through.
The track has definitely made its way onto my morning playlist of positive tunes that get me hype. I look forward to further exploring M.anifest music and I made sure to follow him and Kwesi on twitter (@manifestive and @kwesiarthur_ respectively) so I can stay up to date.
Emmanuel Owusu-Bonsu better known as Wanlov the Kubolor (@wanlov on Instagram and Twitter) is arguably one of Ghana’s most unique hip-hop voices. He has made a career as a musician, film director, and influencer. He’s experienced great success and acclaim since the release of his debut album “Green Card” in 2007 which solidified his place as a force to be reckoned with. In 2017, Wanlov released his latest project “Orange card: Fruitopian Raps” after a five year hiatus from music. One of the most popular songs from this album was “Trotro Blues” a catchy tune detailing what it is like using Trotros, a common form of transportation for many Ghanaians.
When watching the video for Trotro Blues, which has over 31 thousand views on Wanlov the Kubolor’s youtube channel, I was immediately struck by the beauty of the the shots he was able to capture. The video begins as the camera (which was likely a drone or attached to one) shows the top of one Trotro then pans up to expose an area with at least 100 Trotros of various colors and sizes arranged haphazardly. As it continues, the shots are equally as breath taking as they show what is like to use Trotros to get around in Ghana. I enjoyed how the perspective changes to really make you feel as if you are experiencing everything they are experiencing. This effect was created by capturing shots from the point of view of someone inside a Trotro, someone waiting in line to try to get into one, and someone looking from the from seat into the back where they can see people essentially squeezing together to make room for more people than would typically fit.
The song itself is incredible. A melodic tune over-layed with story telling that is simple yet poignant. Wanlov perfectly describes the trouble with Trotro usage, and does so in a calm tone that makes you empathize with the struggles he is describing. The most interesting thing about the song for me was my ability to relate to what he was saying despite never having visited Ghana or ridden in a Trotro. I think this speaks to the universality of hip-hop. I can relate my struggle using Washington D.C’s God-forsaken metro system to someone using the predominant form of public transportation in their country on the other side of the world. These commonalities are what make hip-hop the ever relatable art form that it is. I had never listened to Wanlov before hearing this song but he has certainly gained a fan in me and I look forward to further exploring his music. Maybe I’ll do that the next time I’m waiting for the train…