Interview: FOKN Bois
Rapping duo M3NSA and Wanlov the Kubolor make up the award-winning ‘Gospel Porn’ duo FOKN Bois, known for giving the world its first and second Ghanaian Pidgin English musicals – ‘Cos Ov Moni 1 & 2’. As a live act FOKN Bois are wildly unpredictable; combining ingeniously tasteful shock lyrics with innovative performance art and indulgent progressive sounds. Emily Beaumont caught up with the duo to find out more.
First things first, tell us a bit about your background and how you first got into music…
M3NSA: Both of my parents are Ghanaian and were hard core rock ‘n’ rollers in the ‘60s. My dad was in the band Osibisa and my mom later on an avid classical music and hymnal lover. I started with playing piano in church and later on my older brothers and cousins put me onto hip hop and jazz – there’s been no turning back since.
Kubolor: I was born to a Romanian mother and Ghanaian father who loved listening to many forms of music from their countries and beyond, so I started memorising songs and singing along at a young age. I got exposed to rap later on through my peers.
Since then, you’ve become one of the most celebrated Ghanaian music duos in the world; did you ever expect to become so successful?
M3NSA: I don’t think we really cared in the beginning. We still don’t. Perhaps that could be a problem. We’re still just entertaining each other and getting by, by being our awkward selves. There’s so much more to be done though in success terms.
Kubolor: I feel we are famous, but not yet successful so we still have more ground to cover.
Your music is very satirical and explores some very provocative subject matter. Have any of your songs got you into any kind of trouble?
M3NSA: Just a few threats from fans who don’t know they’re fans yet, but just need an avenue to vent. We often get the “your music is too advanced for our listeners/ viewers” bullshit but that’s never deterred us.
Kubolor: Limited radio play, threats from the Muslim, Rastafarian and Christian community, threats from Nigerians…
What kind of music did you listen to when you were younger?
M3NSA: Classical music, a lot of jazz from my parents’ and their peers’ collections and Ghana radio, which was an unlimited supply of highlife music and crappy ‘80s pop.
Kubolor: Country, jazz, classical, Balkan, highlife, reggae, rap…
A real mixed bag then! You’ve just got back from Glastonbury, how was it, playing the UK’s most iconic music festival?
Kubolor: We had a lot more fun than Kanye did.
And now for Tramlines – what have you got in store for us?
M3NSA: A guitar, an electric keyboard, poking fun at the audience and feedback from the monitors (jinx).
Kubolor: 3 chords and 13 jokes.
How would you describe your live performances?
M3NSA: They’re often more of a surprise for us than for the audience. Definitely fun though. Everyone goes home happy or guiltily sexually aroused, or both.
Kubolor: Quite unorthodox… we are never sure what or how we will perform.
Is there anyone on the bill you’re hoping to see?
M3NSA: KOG and the Zongo Brigade.
How do people react to your performances in the UK, compared to the reactions you get in Ghana?
M3NSA: In the UK they’re admittedly pleasantly shocked and amused. In Ghana they pretend they’re shocked and then take selfies with us after the shows for their porn collection. Both guys and girls.
Kubolor: Controlled calculated laughs, sporadic shrieks/screams.
You’ve played in many different parts of the world, do you have a favourite place?
M3NSA: Accra. Definitely.
Kubolor: Anywhere close to kenkey [Ghanaian delicacy].
Having shared a stage with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Femi Kuti and Gorillaz, what has been your greatest achievement as FOKN Bois?
M3NSA: Still being excited to embark on new projects or pranks after 10 years of all kinds of madness. That’s the real achievement I think!
Kubolor: Creating ‘Coz Ov Moni 1 &2’.
Catch Fokn Bois at midnight at Queens Social Club on Saturday. For full details head to www.tramlines.org.uk.
Follow @tramlines and @ExposedMagSheff on Twitter for updates throughout the weekend.