When Damon Albarn first conceived of his Africa Express, a travelling sound system with members on rotation he could only have had an inkling of what would come of it years later.
Like the remix for three-time Ghana Music Award-nominated Fanti Love Song, produced by Darek Dar-oTomczyk (Poland) and London-based singer/songwriter/MC M3NSA (pronounced Mensa). Both M3NSA and featured guest UK singer Terri Walker are now alumni of Africa Express.
Ghanaian producer M3NSA, already a long-time admirer of the classically trained Walker (who has also sang BVs for Jennifer Hudson and Fergie) recalls bumping into her on the odd occasion before they formally met upon being cast for the Africa Express 2011 line-up. Click here to listen.
“We actually wrote a couple of songs together for that event and I knew there had to be another opportunity for us to work in the studio,” says M3NSA, “So I just lured her with the promise of Jollof rice and she caught the bait! Twenty minutes into the session for the Fanti Love Song remix it was already magical!”
M3NSA is touring Europe together with his FOKN Bois cohort Wanlov the Kubolor in support of their recently released official debut album FOKN Wit Ewe. Although technically, Coz Ov Moni, their groundbreaking short film (the world’s first ever pidgin musical) introduced us to their paired-up irreverent and rare satirical rap format, following one day in their life, weaving its funky way around a thumping and infectious soundtrack. Both are M3NSA’S workmanship.
Fanti Love Song stretches almost completely contrary in direction. Adding a mid-tempo bounce, and repartees in pidgin to Walker’s seductive beckoning, he massages it into a sensual groove which anyone who has felt love’s aches and yearnings will totally understand.
R&B champion Ronnie Herel certainly gets it. With three consecutive spins on his BBC 1Xtra show, Fanti Love Songis on its way to becoming a favourite there. Says Herel, “This is the smoother side of soul music that makes me love and appreciate my job. Two great voices collaborate over a sweet production. My kinda tuneage!”
More than your average remix Fanti Love Song is a sign of our times. Times in which cultural mash-ups are becoming standard practise and ideas about identity are being renewed all the time.
There has never been as much interest in contemporary African music within Britain’s mainstream as there is today, a trend M3NSA predicts will trigger more creative partnering like with his: “It’s something that’s inevitable. The more contemporary African musicians create world class music, the more necessary these collaborations become. There are already a lot of amazing things happening here in the UK and I'm actually looking forward to doing work with some francophone African artists. You know, leaving my comfort zone for a minute.”
Fanti Love release date: May 2012
Catch M3NSA on tour on theses dates:
21 April - London - UK
4 May - Munich - Germany (FOKN Bois)
5 May - Linz - Austria (FOKN Bois)
25 May - Laval - France (FOKN Bois)
26 May - Nijmegen - Netherland (FOKN Bois)
27 May - Cologne - Germany (FOKN Bois)
Follow/tweet M3NSA and check him out online as follows: