these fokn bois are out to get you
Wanlov The Kubolor and M3NSA, better known as the Fokn Bois, are tired of emcees just wasting beats. Repulsed by the contrived nature of today’s music, Fokn Bois flex their views on politics, religion, and sexuality in an imaginative, Afro-centric, pidgin-based flair that floats between hilarity and absurdity. They package truths and feed them to the public in what sometimes results in severe indigestion. From the Nigerian Press to the Ewe People, to the Ghanaian Media, this duo has garnered its fair share of criticism.
words by: Shivani Ahlowhalia
A word to the reactionaries: that dinosaur mentality won’t get you far. Let the nutrients from their lyrical flow drip down until it soaks in: The Fokn Bois are just fokn with you. That’s the way the Bois are conceived, as that is the way they create: free flowing and uninhibited. It’s not about you. Take it from Wanlov when he says: “M3NSA and I make music for each other. We don’t make music for anyone else.”
The first time I met the Fokn Bois they were in bed together. M3NSA passed gas and Wanlov reacted: “Hey chale wow, why you do that…?”
The opening scene of Coz Ov Moni, the pair's Pidgin mix tape-musical (and the first ever of its kind), stood about seven feet tall right before me at a guerilla screening during the FESPACO Film Festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in 2010. A truck rolled up to the shack where a chosen few awaited. Moments later, a curtain-come-screen concealed the side of the truck as a makeshift bar bubbled-over with Castel, the local brew. A humble sound system was erected and a generator began to hum. The Fokn Bois mystified as they strut through the streets of Ghana on screen. The glitzy twosome painted a colorful, mouthwatering picture of what felt like real-life-Ghana. Refusing to be defined by one place, the pair occupy global spaces: their lives span several continents, their time divided between music and family. They’ve released a variety of singles and three full-length albums including the soundtrack to Coz Ov Moni (2010), The FOKN DunaQuest in Budapest (2011) and Fokn With Ewe (2012) - which boasts tracks like Thank God We're Not Nigerian and Sexin Islamic Girls.
Two years later I caught up with the two again, on screen again: they beamed in via Skype. Their studio in London was a modest setup filled with the kind of light that radiates between friends. They said they were in the midst of figuring out their lives, making them instantly real. Taking a break from recording the soundtrack for Coz of Moni 2, they made time to reason. The banter between Wanlov and M3NSA was enchanting - like a happily married couple, they finished each other’s sentences.
Before they were the Fokn Bois, Wanlov and M3NSA were Emmanuel and Mensa. They met as youths: Boy Scouts in uniform combing the Ghanaian jungle, practicing survival mechanisms. M3NSA describes their encounter as brief but knowing - knowing they would be on to something soon. They crossed paths again in high school where they solidified their alliance, skipping class to write songs.
Wanlov later moved to the US and M3NSA to the UK where they continued collaborating in a typical, modern day send-track-record-send-back fashion. In 2006, they met in NYC with the objective of recording. Three tracks in one night lead to an album in which one song bled into the other. Their fertile storytelling and uncooked aesthetics made for such vivid music that half way through recording the album, they decided to incorporate visuals.
Coz Ov Moni the movie was born.
Here and now: The music comes first. The album is recorded and completed. The song lyrics serve as the script for the movie. Listening to the album on repeat, the storyboarding begins. The principal aesthetics and scenes of the film are detailed. Then, King Lou, the director, starts to cast, to scout locations. The Bois have made a conscious effort not to fok with Coz Ov Moni, as it was designed with the family in mind. The PG13 experience is filled with satire, some coordinated dance moves, food so visually enticing you can smell it, and two lead-characters so spicy you can taste them. Visually, Coz of Moni 2 promises to be grimier than its previous counterpart, illuminating the Africa even Africans are disinclined to reveal.
Fokn Bois are lyrically enchanting not because they have flow but because they are unpasteurized; raw. This pair is most concerned with pleasing each other and in the process has aroused the interest of journalists, academics, and music aficionados worldwide. They reject being referred to as conscious rappers, but mindfulness shines through in lyric and deed. The pair partnered with Bavaria to create The Big In Ghana Talent Hunt and Tour, a music competition that sources new, unsigned artists and takes them on tour throughout Ghana. They also mentor and produce Ghanaian artists including Macho Rapper, Yaa Pono, Sankwas Bois and Sister Deborah. The Fokn Bois consider themselves a mouthpiece for the minds of their African people: singing what they are thinking, but not saying.
More from the Fokn Bois on YouTube and over at BandCamp.
All photos c/o Fokn Bois