In October 2010, Ghanaian-British multi-disciplinary artist, M3nsa launched the critically acclaimed ‘No. 1 Mango Street’ album.
Some ten years later, the Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards nominee has partnered with yoyo tinz, a cultural organization documenting Ghanaian hip hop culture on a series of activities to celebrate the ground-breaking album.
“I am very honoured by how they came through and reminded me that my music is still so relevant even ten years after,” says M3nsa of the partnership.
The 14-track album includes fan favourites such as ‘BRKN LNGWJZ,’ ‘No One Knows,’ ‘Fanti Love Song,’ and ‘Adjuma.’
Founded by Selorm Jay and Essé Dabla-Attikpo, yoyo tinz promotes, documents, and archives “hip hop culture in Ghana and beyond, with a strong emphasis on sharing knowledge about the culture and the societies from which they are created.”
The activities include a campaign to support the ongoing Kickstarter to back the release of M3nsa’s ‘Bondzie -Speak Up’ project.
Known for his work as one of the pioneers of the Hiplife/ Afrobeats scene in Ghana, M3nsa is also one half of music duo, FOKN Bois alongside Wanlov the Kubolor. He is also a member of the Ghanaian-Hungarian duo, RedRed.
M3nsa has collaborated and shared stages with the likes of Damon Albarn, Flea from Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Femi Kuti, and Asa. He has also produced songs for FOKN BOIS, M.anifest, and Nneka.
He was born Mensa Ansah to a family celebrated for their music and creative work. M3nsa’s father is Tumi Ebo Ansah, the renowned guitarist of Osibisa. He is the nephew of decorated Ghanaian film director, Kwaw Ansah and the late Kofi Ansah, a well-renowned fashion designer.
For 20 years and counting, M3nsa continues to push the boundaries of what is supposedly the Ghanaian and African sound with his brilliant, witty, and satirical lyricism.
MuseAfrica.com caught with the Ghana Music Awards nominee for a quick interview about No. 1 Mango Street, and ‘Bondzie – ‘Speak Up.’
Read interview below:
MuseAfrica.com: What makes yoyo tinz the right partner for the 10-year anniversary of No. 1 Mango Street?
M3nsa: I almost didn’t realize it was the 10th anniversary with all that has been going on this year and all the new material I have been producing these past few months!
And this is why YoYo Tinz is the perfect partner: they know about Gh HipHop, and they are always finding different ways to support the culture. And they remembered this milestone.
I am very honoured by how they came through and reminded me that my music is still so relevant even ten years after. So big kudos to them, and I couldn’t have hoped for a better partner, to be honest.
MuseAfrica.com: The work you did on the album is revered (and rightfully so) in the Ghanaian music space. In your estimation, what’s the impact of the album after 10 years?
M3nsa: I try to make music that transcends time.
A lot of the subject matter in the songs resonate with many Ghanaians ( not exclusively ). And there’s no expiry date for this kind of thing. I hope young people that were too young ten years ago can still find an outlet and a connection with it.
I think this album’s beauty has always been the fact that is very explicit even in its lyrical complexity, and the sound has always been out of the usual boxes but still links with our DNA. This album confirms that there are no rules in music and I can own my distinctive sound.
If people are still listening to it 10 years later, it is not because of nostalgia, but because it is still extremely relevant to them. And that’s all that matters.
MuseAfrica.com: What’s the thinking behind asking the public to help fund Bondzie – ‘Speak Up’?
M3nsa: We have to be realistic. The music industry is leaving bread crumbs for African Artists, as usual.
I recently read something about MF Doom’s incredible role in Hip Hop’s history, and one of the things he showed us is the existence of sustainable paths outside of the system.
If people still love my music, I am ready to partner with them to make it happen, instead of “partnering” with people who want to exploit it or don’t appreciate it.
Let’s be real. I have more than 300k followers between the different social platforms.
If they came together, I could release music every year for free for them and just make it our ecosystem. I don’t want to be too long, but the thinking behind crowdfunding is the only possible thinking if you still want to make excellent music and not compromise with what is imposed by the industry.