Confession: I am probably a bit biased. Firstly, I sincerely believe that some great music is coming out of Ghana and its diaspora – and that is not just because I fall within that diaspora. Because of this view, I have made it my personal mission to find out and keep track of as much Ghanaian music as I can. Secondly, although I started interacting with Mensa Ansah on twitter prior to hearing his music, I sincerely believe he is slept on as a producer and artist and, therefore, deserves all the blessings he can get.
After hearing and experiencing his work with Wanlov the Kubolor – the film Coz Ov Moni and accompanying soundtrack – my admiration for M3nsa increased 100 fold. The track Broken Language continues to be one of my favourite. The relationship between Wanlov and M3nsa goes back to their school days and it is wonderfully evident in anything they do together.
I have been waiting anxiously and M3nsa’s solo project is finally out – No. 1 Mango Street (his birthplace) is a manifestation of the talent and ability of this artist who, although having spent the last decade living in the UK, continues to retain a strong musical and spiritual connection to Ghana, producing for and working regularly with Ghanaian artists. He marries Twi, Pidgen and English with ease, taking you into the heart and spirit of what it is to be Ghanaian in a global world.
The album is the next step in a journey that started many years ago with Mensa first coming to prominence producing for the legendary father of hiplife Reggie Rockstone and includes a MOBO nomination (I registered just to vote for him) in 2010. He has gone on to work with and perform alongside artists like Nneka, The Roots, The Gorillaz, Little Brother and Amadou and Mariam, and, musically, the album brings together hip hop, soul, high life, hip life and afro beat in a way that honours its roots while still being contemporary and relevant. As he states, “You don’t have to be into African Hip-hop to listen to the album, you just have to be into music.”
No One Knows is a beautiful song that samples Asa and is both calming and hopeful but the album is full of some great songs. While it is hard to choose, I would have to say that one of my favourite tracks is comedic mack track Kelewele Pimpin’. That said, I play the album from beginning to end. On the album, he features, in addition to Wanlov, artists like Samini, Kwabena Jones, Kwabena Kwabena, M.anifest (who is doing some great stuff in the US) and Ndidi. He has also been touring regularly, to promote the album, with his band The Lights Offs.
Album Track Listing:
- No.1 Mango Street feat. Ryan Ansah
- Biribi W’om (We Don’t Know) feat. Samini
- We Go Rock
- Fanti Love Song
- As?m Pa feat Samini
- No one Knows
- No one Knows
- Kelewele Pimpin’
- Dream (Misuud?i)
- Y?n K?’oo (Let’s Go!)
- Anoma feat Cage
- BRKN LNGWJZ feat Wanlov the Kubolor (F.O.K.N Bois)