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.
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.
Wanlov the Kubolor is known for his artistic way of speaking out about humanity in his pidgen style. With two albums out and another on the way, Wanlov is known to most as a refreshing and original artist.
Wanlov was born in Romina but grew up in Ghana. Most of his music comes from his roots. Unlike most African hip-hop artist, Wanlov breaks away from the stereotype that rapping in the American way. It’s not until his sophomore album, Brown Card-African Gypsy, that we see Wanlov grow as an artist. Wanlov feels that’s his sophomore album are his ideas and he’s performing them as Wanlov. At one point in his career, Wanlov felt as though every time he went up on stage to preform, he was rapping out his ideas but at the same time he felt as though he was acting the out. He felt he had to please Americans so they can like his music.
Wanlov as an artist wants to achieve for his audience or fans to understand the human experience and growing in between two worlds. One will always find Wanlov walking barefoot in the streets of Ghana. Wanlov is a true Kubolor, because as an artist and a person, there will always be an adventure with him.
In an interview between Wanlov the Kubolor and malaha.co.za, Wanlov is asked questions on how he has grown as an artist from his freshman album to his sophomore album.
In the interview, Wanlov goes deep into detail about how his style changed from his first album to his second and how he as an artist/person had evolved. Wanlov tells the interviewer that the reason he has accomplished so many things is because he has been given “luck” and taken the opportunity to seize it. He speaks about how people can have many ideas and throw them out in the air, but it is the luck that makes the person grab those ideas and make them happen.
When asked about how his music style has changed, Wanlov response was that his first album was just a representation of thoughts thrown in with rhyme, but when performing his songs, he was a different person. His sophomore album, however, were his thoughts and he himself was performing them; he no longer felt as though he was acting. He felt once he stopped performing for what he thought Americans would apperciate, he actually found himself. Wanlov feels that many African artist are shedding and moving themselves away from “American hip-hop” because many of them are finding their own identity or going back to their roots.
The most interesting thing that I found stood out the most was how Wanlov really feels as though he and many African artist want to break away from the “American hip hop” ideology that since they are African, their music has to be rapped with an accent. Wanlov feels that media has a lot to do with this because most of the shows people watch are American sitcoms, so it wouldyonly make sense to try and be American, but Wanlov wants to turn the other way and learn more about Africa.
Kokonsa by Wanlov the Kubolor is a much more different video than that compared to his Human Beings (Just Like You) video in the sense that we see Wanlov walking around his neighborhood with family and friends.
The beginning of the video starts off with an analog between him and a fellow female friend inviting him to a pool party at her home. Wanlov and the people in the video had a very heavy accent so it was a little difficult to understand. At times during the conversation, I thought the speakers were switching from English to Twi. The video shows two sides of Ghana, the rich and the poor. On the poor side of Ghana, where Wanlov is from, you see many people barefoot and playing baseball with sticks and stones. Unlike the rich side of the neighborhood, most of the people are dressed in nice clothes and are drinking, just basically having a good time. Wanlov going around his neighborhood and showing all the people talking is basically him saying people like to gossip around the neighborhood and say things that aren’t true.
The video Human Beings (Just Like You) by: Wanlov the Kubolor, is a simple yet artistic video in the sense that Wanlov instantly grabs the attention of his audience. The video consist of Wanlov, M3nsa on vocals, and Alex Hunter on an acoustic guitar.
The song Human Beings itself is a very powerful song, but the video makes the song even more powerful. The simplicity of the video setting makes the viewer focus solely on the lyrics of the song. The song basically speaks about how everyone is created equal and how everyone should be seen and treated the same. In the video the only instruments that are being used is a acoustic guitar, a drum, and some type of noise maker that Wanlov uses. There’s not much that goes into the video, but it makes his audience apperciate him as an artist. Wanlov definitely wanted his audience to feel the music and to understand his lyrics. At the end of the video, M3sna makes a joke with Wanlov asking, “If your brother is from Finland than what are you?” Which to Wanlov replies, ” Then we are finished”.
Speaking in a conference with ghanabusinessnews.com, the African Gypsy Wanlov shared perceptions into his life, composition, and the music scene in Ghana. Wanlov’s annoyance with the music business in Ghana has become the same for some of the ingrained musicians his country. The Kubolor went to Adisadel College from where he went to Texas in the U.S. and worked in college for three years. Before he got into music as an occupation, he practiced basketball. Wanlov stated “When I was in the States, I played basketball more, and then I started wondering if I wanted to study computer science or business administration,” He selected music. Wanlov believes the ones who call themselves music suppliers in Ghana aren’t. He states “They are just warehouses, because distributors do not store the music but move around to distribute to shops who sell.” Wanlov was one of the vendors that walked the streets personally handling merchandise, handing his wholesale CD’s to his customers so to the retailers who sale them through warehouses, meaning to do their business with a much higher pace. Wanlov says these influences have altered the advertising of native Ghanaian music which ultimately has changed its publicizing, promotion and transactions. He advised ghanabusinessnews.com that Ghanaian music should be utilized to endorse Ghana through travelers and the vacation-industry. “When investors come to Ghana for business, they would also want to have emotional connection with the country, and there is no better way than Ghanaian music.” Wanlov also provided an illustration of Jamaicans and how they have cast-off reggae music to stimulate their country. “You hear Jamaica and reggae music draws in awareness,” he stated. Wanlov also expressed his disappointment with Ghanaian fashion. He says the selection of attire worn by Ghanaians doesn’t assist the material and style commerce in Ghana. “You see some Ghanaians wearing a dress that looks American but might have been produced in China. We don’t patronize Ghanaian fashion products and that is affecting the growth of Ghanaian fashion and textile industries.” In conclusion the Kubolor just wants his country to be big like Jamaica. He wants to have a progressive positive association behind the name by encouraging people and the music business.
Wanlov The Kubolor and Hip Hop mogul M3NSA make up FOKN Bois and with their line of work in the sort of combustible rhetoric that make the “P.C.-baiting of Das Racist or the teen-Fight Club nihilism of Odd Future”, however skillful, seem regional when comparing the two. FOKN Bois take things to a whole new level with encouragement. Method Man and Redman being copied, the FOKN bois are politically charged and they’re out to trash every cultural taboo possible, both African and Western.
The FOKN Bois have been vital to Ghana’s contemporary music revival, and are regarded as Ghana’s most creative aware rappers. As lone entertainers, they were extremely interested in Ghanaian traditional and popular music styles, with Wanlov’s cd’s representing Ghana—hardly controversial. Wanlov’s solo album Brown Card is an exploration of his half-Romanian roots with a part-Gypsy, part-Ghanaian band of traditional musicians. M3NSA dropped his solo debut in 2010, the heartfelt combination of soul, hip hop and Fante folk music that is No.1 Mango Street. Their 2010 debut as FOKN Bois was likewise a serious, ambitious effort for political change in both the west and in Ghana. The duo was to play at a venue, Le Poisson Rouge, and only one half of the group, Wanlov The Kubolor—whose 2007 visit to America stimulated his immigration solo debut album Green Card, had been deprived of a travel visa. In the end it’s not all that unexpected. Practically every move the duo makes together is projected to aggravate listeners, particularly in the West.
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 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:
Wanlov did a online interview with Ganacelebrities.com, and it was during this interview that he was on tour in London doing a show. In the interview they mostly talked about how he got his first big break in Los Angeles, CA where he had his song play on the radio called afrodicia radio, and that being how gyedu-blay ambolley heard him went to his show resulting in him getting hooked up with a deal. They also talked about the different types of artist that he grew up on, and how that energy of music inspired him to want to become a part of music. And the types of artist that he admirs presently.
He also recently performed at an event with Elliot House at the Adisadel College, he also reminisced about about actually attending the school himself and shared how he studied in math, computer science, and business administrative, but becuase he felt to close to music he dropped out to fullfill his true dream of becoming a artist. He shared that his music appears to be somewhat simple but he wanted to have something that the people can relate better to. They also discussed his album greencard and how he relates being that was apart of his country of the people.
The link for the full interview
Video Critique: Wanlov the Kubolor in Human Being (Just Like You)
In this video posted by BBCafrica it shows Wanlov performing his song Human Being from his album Greencard with artist M3nsa and Alex Hunter on guitar. The video physically is a simple one, just showing them three playing the instrument just letting the lyrics express the whole video. The song itself i think represent Africa and its people, and how that we are all the same and that we should help out each other and unite, and also the turmoil of Africa in itself. Very influential song I believe.
Here is the link for the video