Dialects of Hip-Hop

The song BRKN LNGWJZ by FOKN Bois is a song that really embodies the discussion revolving around the use of different languages in social settings. FOKN Bois is a Ghanaian rap group that consists of Wanlov the Kubolor and M3nsa. In this song, Wanlov and M3nsa talk about what makes them who they are and what things are important to their identity. Throughout the song they rap in english as well as simultaneously using a dialect of english, Twi (a dialect spoken in Ghana) words. The use of language in this song is to aid them in revealing their identities. Continue reading “Dialects of Hip-Hop”

Wanlov The Kubolor Addresses Colorism through Personal Experience in “My Skin”

Ghanaian artist Wanlov The Kubolor speaks on the effects of colorism on people in Africa and his personal experience with it in 2008 with song My Skin.  The video for this song is not professionally shot, but rather just him and his camera in the comfort of his own home, so it seems. There are also pictures of him growing up and visuals that are a part of the media.

The message of his song focuses on identity and the confidence or lack of that is associated with complexion especially in places in Africa like Ghana.  The diction in the lyrics are based on terms that are used to describe the complexion or heritage of people.  He uses these terms in lines like:

Also Mulatto 
Lastly Obroni pete 

Wen I dey yankee 
He mixed  Continue reading “Wanlov The Kubolor Addresses Colorism through Personal Experience in “My Skin””

HHAP Episode 16: Wanlov the Kubolor

This month we’re featuring a conversation with Ghanaian artist Wanlov the Kubolor. In the interview we talk about Wanlov the Kubolor’s experiences, his music, the controversies, and his evolution into Wanlov the Kubolor, the African Gypsy.

Wanlov the Kubolor is a smart, introspective artist who is very much aware of the social relevance of his music. He often makes social commentary, whether via his music or social media, and infuses that social commentary with humor. Wanlov’s humor (and he’s genuinely funny) often has fans laughing before realizing that there is a message in the madness. Wanlov has detractors, people who take issue with his music or behavior. But, agree or disagree with his views, Wanlov the Kubolor is not afraid of expressing himself in unconventional ways.

Wanlov’ the Kubolor’s music reflects his diverse background and experiences. It is difficult to put Wanlov the Kubolor into one category of music. He is an MC, but he also blends several different sounds and styles in his music. He’s a versatile artists who has crafted a career as a successful, internationally known artist.

His solo albums are Green Card, Yellow Card, Brown Card: African Gypsy, and Orange Card: Fruitopian Raps

Wanlov is also one half of the group Fokn Bois (his partner is M3nsa), which has released two films film Coz ov Moni and Coz ov Moni 2. They also released the soundtracks to Coz ov Moni and Coz ov Moni 2. The groups also released FOKN Wit Ewe and FOKN Ode to Ghana. Wanlov has also released several EPs.

Wanlov the Kubolor’s music can be found on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/wanlov-the-kubolor/id455218010

He’s also on social media Twitter: @wanlov‏ and Facebook: Wanlov the Kubolor

Episode Playlist
:40 “In Ghana”
2:53 Episode Intro
6:48 “Sometimes”
8:00 “Brkn Lngwjz”
10:00 “Mek We Rap”
11:58 “Trotro Blues”
13:25 “No Borders”
14:58 Interview with Wanlov the Kubolor

This month we’re featuring a conversation with Ghanaian artist Wanlov the Kubolor. In the interview we talk about Wanlov the Kubolor’s experiences, his music, the controversies, and his evolution into Wanlov the Kubolor, the African Gypsy.

Wanlov the Kubolor is a smart, introspective artist who is very much aware of the social relevance of his music. He often makes social commentary, whether via his music or social media, and infuses that social commentary with humor. Wanlov’s humor (and he’s genuinely funny) often has fans laughing before realizing that there is a message in the madness. Wanlov has detractors, people who take issue with his music or behavior. But, agree or disagree with his views, Wanlov the Kubolor is not afraid of expressing himself in unconventional ways.

Wanlov’ the Kubolor’s music reflects his diverse background and experiences. It is difficult to put Wanlov the Kubolor into one category of music. He is an MC, but he also blends several different sounds and styles in his music. He’s a versatile artists who has crafted a career as a successful, internationally known artist.

His solo albums are Green Card, Yellow Card, Brown Card: African Gypsy, and Orange Card: Fruitopian Raps

Wanlov is also one half of the group Fokn Bois (his partner is M3nsa), which has released two films film Coz ov Moni and Coz ov Moni 2. They also released the soundtracks to Coz ov Moni and Coz ov Moni 2. The groups also released FOKN Wit Ewe and FOKN Ode to Ghana. Wanlov has also released several EPs.

Wanlov the Kubolor’s music can be found on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/wanlov-the-kubolor/id455218010

He’s also on social media Twitter: @wanlov‏ and Facebook: Wanlov the Kubolor

Episode Playlist
:40 “In Ghana”
2:53 Episode Intro
6:48 “Sometimes”
8:00 “Brkn Lngwjz”
10:00 “Mek We Rap”
11:58 “Trotro Blues”
13:25 “No Borders”
14:58 Interview with Wanlov the Kubolor

Different Country, Same Attitude

There’s two types of people in this world: those who conform to the rules set by society and those who rebel against it. In their collaborative hp hop song “Gentleman”, rappers M.anifest and Wanlov the Kubolor come together to tell you that they’re the ladder and not ashamed of where they’ve come from. For today’s blog, we will look at the African diaspora and how this common African experience has translated over to the music of these two artists. Just to give you a bit of a background on each, M.anifest is a Ghanian rapper who is known to many as the king of Ghana hip hop. He migrated to Saint Paul, Minnesota back in 2001 to attend college. He even resides in Minnesota as well as Ghana currently. 

Wanlov the Kubolor is a Ghanaian-Romanian musician who moved to the US for college back in 2000. Both of these artist are very proud of their Ghanian roots and let their experiences as immigrants influence their sound.

Wanlov

In their collaborative song Gentleman, both rappers immediately start the song off saying the chorus immediately saying “I won’t be gentleman at all, I’ll be African man original. I wont be gentleman, won’t be gentleman at all”. They immediately set the tone for the song with their straight forward acclamation to stick to their roots despite living in a country that has a different culture. Within the song they mention a number of aspects that are associated with the men of western culture and then rejects them with their own versions that they’ve grown to live with in Ghana. Both M.anifest and Wanlov the Kubolor have experienced first hand what it feels like to migrate to not just a different country but an entirely different continent like many Africans for the sake of their futures. the African immigrant population between the year 2000 and 2010 increased from 800,000 to 1.6 million and of those people these artist were part of that. There’s such a big population of African Immigrants that can relate to this song and are able to not feel alone in their fight to not keep who they are while surrounded by Americans. Gentleman is a great song that compares the two cultures and also speaks to what they mean to the Ghanian rappers. It’s fun, it’s unique, and it will always be African.

The Diaspora as depicted in Wanlov the Kubolor’s “Smallest Time”

Emmanuel Owusu-Bonsu, also known as Wanlov the Kubolor, was born into a Ghanaian-Romanian family in Ghana. After years of living in Ghana, he moved to the United States to study Computer Science and Business Administration at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor. Two years later, in 2002, he dropped out in order to become fully immersed in his music career.

From his move from his hometown in Ghana to an entirely new continent and country, the United States, it can be gathered that this move was not an easy one. Knowing Wanlov’s background, the lyrics in his song “Smallest Time” are probably telling the story of his journey to a new place where he believed he would be afforded more opportunity, but instead it is the complete opposite.

The song begins: “Seems like just yesterday, left home so far away/ Memories remind us that destiny would find us…/ Africa I miss you…”. Already with the intro and into the hook, the listener is being exposed to a story of diaspora through Wanlov as he expresses how much he misses his home in Africa.

The next verse chronicles the obstacles that he faced as an immigrant in a new country which many people of diasporas face. Wanlov says: “US border, visa requiired/ College degree, unexpired/ No school fees, visa expired/ Funds wired, money perspired/ Now broke, day job desired/ You are hired, then I got fired/ Got married, green card acquired/ But now I am tired, so I retired”.

Following that verse lie more portrayal of Wanlov’s struggle to adjust to the loneliness that moving to a new country brings. He depicts this despair by saying: “I never know say there hard/ Sometimes I got so lonely, wanted to see my family/ Spent money on phone calls/ Voices helped me cross those pitfalls…/ I don’t know if I can make it through another day”.

Through learning a bit about Wanlov’s early life and decision to travel to the United States alone, “Smallest Time” begins to speak volumes for other people in the diaspora as well. Many immigrants experience the sense of loneliness and unhappiness on the journey of searching for the “better life” in a new country. “Smallest Time” was Wanlov the Kubolor’s way of being transparent with his audience about his journey to the United States and what strifes he encountered living here.

Ghanaian Groves

I’m relatively new to the intricate and unique sounds of African Hip Hop. There is a great sense of diverse sounding Hip Hop that I’m simply not used to nor was I aware of.  One thing that I’ve learned in my new journey into sound is the amazing music that is produced by Ghanaian rap artists. The Hip Hop scene in Ghana is responsible for producing some of Africa’s rawest sounding artists. Artists like Reggie Rockstone, M.Anifest, Wanluv The Kubolor, Tinny, Sarkodie, the list goes on. With that being said my discovery of Edem’s Gbevu was pleasantly on par with my expectations. Edem is a popular Ghanaian rapper who spits in ewe. For myself, I personally find his music a bet refreshing because the language barrier is easier to manage. Although this is not a socially conscious track I believe it has major international potential.

The instrumental to the track Gbevu has an almost Ghanaian/ middle eastern flavor. It’s pleasantly similar to a sound that Timberland the american super producer would create. I would like to note that the sounds of auto-tune here are pleasantly layered over his chorus vocals.  When I watched the official video for the track I instantly noticed the familiar fashion. Everything from the skinny jeans tucked in timbs, Adidas tennis shoes, Hennis & Morits sweatshirts, snap-back hats, ray band sunshades, form fitting extended length T shirts look American.

There are even instances in the video where popular american dances are either mentioned or subtly performed. (Edem mentions and does the migos’ Dab at 1:11 in the video above followed by a milly rock at 2:20) I mentioned that because I’m happy to see integration of African American culture with Ghanaian culture.  Growing up African in America its popular to believe that Africans in Africa want nothing to do with African-Americans or their culture. Seeing things like American dances, fashion and even hearing american influences debunk that belief. Edem is an amazing talent and I look forward to discover more tantalizing sounds of the motherland.

 

 

“Help America”- FOKN Bois

The FOKN Bois, Wanlov and M3nsa, is a hip hop duo from the African country Ghana. The hip hop duo’s songs are made up of lyrics that address political issues and are usually extremely satirical. They are not afraid to express their, typically unpopular and disapproved of, opinions. Unlike many other rappers of their generation, Wanlov and M3nsa are authentic to their culture in more ways than one. They exhibit their cultural roots through the ways that they dress, live, and rap. Wanlov is popular in the country of Ghana and can be seen walking around the country wearing wraps around his waist and being barefoot. In their videos, they are often wearing clothes with traditional patterns and in urban areas of Ghana.

In their song “Help America,” the duo satirically address the issue of American people not having any cultural values and the collapsing economy. They use the popular American creations, for example McDonalds, Microsoft, Windows, and phone apps, to show that the country has no real cultural values. Although it may seem like America is ahead of many other countries in terms of materialistic values, the duo believes that America lacks true cultural values. In the chorus of the song, the FOKN Bois use the phrase “help America.” It seems as though they are twisting the commonly seen American commercials-advocating for people to donate money, clothes, and food to other countries “in need”- to suggest that those countries should donate their values to America.

Sources

http://people.peacefmonline.com/pages/musicians/wanlov/biography

Brown Card

Third Studio Album,

Brown card by Wanlov the Kubolor the African Gypsy, released March 12, 2011, speaks about his musical exhibitions of his heritage. He speaks about not only his Ghanaian roots but Romanian as well. His personality and sense of humor both show in several songs and clearly the use of African entrenched instruments such as Bongos, Drums, Beats, and a combined melody of guitar, accordion, and violins. Track 1: Nkrumah pikin, is an intro that is a basic description of himself. As we can see it also includes the name Nkrumah which is short for Kwame Nkrumah, who he thanks on behalf of his family for letting his father go to Romania and meet his mother in order for them to give birth to Wanlov. His 2nd track: African Gypsy, is a fast pace song which includes a description of him and his trail or his pathway in who he is today. This track features Keziah Jones, a Nigerian singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He released 7 studio albums and is well known in the African hip-hop community under the funk genre. Together, they make dynamic duo and a terrific song. Track 3: My funky story, is a jazzed based song featuring Kossa is really basic and its self-explaining title says it all. The song is a description about his time in Africa. Track 4: Chewing Stick, is Wanlov’s outcry to his woman about where his toothbrush is. A Chewing stick is utilized for oral hygiene for thousands of years in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Wanlov has this weeping sobbing tone asking about his Chewing Stick. One of my personal favorites Track 5: Spr Mi Dat, may be hard to understand at first but, its speaks about the squalor Wanlov encounters. He tells several stories about women in this one that he ends with a basic “spare me that” in other words just don’t give me extra’s. Track 6: Vino La Mine, featuring Jerome Soulas is a classic sound of Bongos and Caja Drums. This track is about Wanlov’s heritage, being comfortable who he is, and his multicultural background. Track 7: Come Play, sounds like a very jazzy hit that would make any one get up and dance. This track features a singer named Sena, whose vocals match the harmony of the band very well. Wanlov is describing a woman and himself in several acts of his possible future. Track 8: Sticks and Tones, is about Wanlov planting seeds, conquering mountains, and excelling at the things he describes. It designates his basic ideals about being use to who he is, not going to change, and not letting anyone put him down. This is a very uplifting song. Track 9: Romania, sings a wonderful tune about his mother’s homeland. It is believed to be one of the most beautiful places as a repetitive voice sings “Romania”. Track 11: Pentru Mama, is a soft focused tune about his dedication to his mother. This song reminds me of Kanye’s Dedication to his mother because of their use in describing their mom’s which many Africans and African Americans can relate. Track 13: Casa Mea is another track hard to understand I do believe it’s about his home, where and how he grew up. Track 14: String Theory, Track 15: Nxt Life, is how Wanlov describes his introduction coming into his “next life” saying it will be much better and all positive things. Track 16: Sleepy Sheep, is Wanlov coming at peace with his album. What a way to end it incorporates basic parts from each song. He says portions about Romania, his mother, his home, his background, his accomplishments, and himself. Well everything except his toothbrush!

Wanluv the Kubolor: This Is Africa

Wanluv the Kubolor was interviewed by ghtakeover.com on January 8, 2012. The video interview opens up with Wanluv walking the streets of his hometown, Ghana. During the interview, Wanluv opens up about the struggles he faced while being a student in America. He talks about what it was for him to return back to Ghana. He speaks about the musicians such as Talking Drums, The Ambassadors, NFL, etc. that influenced him to rap in pidgin and start this new style called hip life. In the interview, Wanluv speaks about pidgin language and how the majority of the youth in Ghana has now begun to speak it; he feels there is nothing more powerful than language.

During the interview, one question and response that struck out to me most was “What made [him] decide to move back to Ghana”? For Wanluv, moving back to Ghana was “daring” because he left America without a degree that his parents made him to go school for. Dropping out of college was difficult. He couldn’t obtain a social security number to find work and he didn’t want to get married. So the only way for him to survive was by doing internet fraud in America from 2000-2005. Upon returning to Ghana, many people around him saw him as though he were about to jump off a skyscaper for returning home. Wanluv, however, didn’t mind too much because he felt as though he was bringing back home with him something that the people would love.

In this inteview, one is taken to the roots of Wanluv. When Wanluv began his career, he rapped in an “American accent” because that was all that was heard on the radio. Wanluv knew he had the writing and rapping skills, but felt as though every time he went out to perform he was acting. He felt as though his audience was not seeing him as a real person. His career started off with him rapping about talking and living, but that soon began to fade away. In 2004, Wanluv took another approach with his career and decided that it was time to do something that sounded more like his home. Something that sounded more Ghana.

That last question of the interview was if there are any knew things that we should expect from Wanluv. Wanluv response with the video release of his song “Broken Languages”. Wanluv then begins laughing and tells the interviewer that he had recently seen the Jay-Z and Kanye West video to the song “Otis”. Wanluv says that Jay-Z’s and West video cannot compare to the “Broken Languages” video because it takes time and a genius to make what he has done.

Link to interview:

http://ghtakeover.com/wanlov-the-kubolor-interview-myself