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.
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: