Trotro or Metro..a Universal Struggle

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…

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