Advance Search

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages
pass_pop_up
sidebar
wooframework
slide
african_issues
book_series
magzine_issues
african_live_events
research_posts
inprint_posts
installation_posts
periodicals_posts
ecwid_menu_item
sp_easy_accordion
acf-field
give_payment
give_forms
acf-field-group
Filter by Categories
Archive
Arts & Pedagogy
Book Series
Books & Oration
Cash & Commerce
Chimurenga Library
Chimurenga Magazine
Chronic
Comics
Faith & Ideology
Featured
Gaming
Healing & bodies
Maps
Media & Propaganda
Music
News
PASS
Systems of Governance
Video

Gospel Christian Porn Rap

Fucking with the puritanical social mores that pervade the world’s most religious country is the clear and conscious intent of Ghana’s popular and controversial hip-hop duo, the clever FOKN Bois, writes Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah

M3nsa and Wanlov the Kubolor are the FOKN Bois: controversial, unapologetic and boldly venturing into territories that other Ghanaian musicians stay well clear of. The duo met as college students in 1997, and Wanlov would “lie to M3nsa’s teachers that M3nsa was needed at the school administration block by staff, and we would run off to freestyle rap all day”. Their reunion a few years later led to the creation of the FOKN Bois, whose music is woven from the persistent threads of religion and sex.

Sex in Ghana, the world’s most religious country, is an act reserved for the most private of spaces. Public discussions on the subject are puritanical. The FOKN Bois take the extreme opposite view. Their song “Beatrice”, for example, describes in techni-colour detail an intimate sexual encounter between Wanlov and Beatrice, an upstanding member of the church:

Now fii your trumu mek i feel d scent

Dis yor body e b heaven sent
U b worth every fokn second spent
2night we go sin moro we go repent.

References to sex in Ghanaian music are not unique. After all, everybody knows what “small girl you don’t know the ting” means, no matter what rapper and hiplifer, Atumpan (Franklin Elinam Cobbinah), has said in interviews. But Ghanaians like sex in music dressed up in allusions, metaphors and double entendres, which is why lyrics such as “C d way yor toto under foh/Like 3+1, ma sausage in yor sore/U like it just d way i like it… Raw/Yor inside corr like ripe pawpaw” in “Beatrice” would give many cause to pause. The song taps into a universal conflict, one that many religious people feel when caught between the desires of the flesh and the aspirations of the soul. FOKN Bois have described it as a new genre of music: Gospel Christian Porn Rap.

Given the fundamentalist, conservative “do as I say, and not as I do” brand of religion that has swept the continent, it is high time that someone pricked the conscience of the religious. And why use a needle when a sledge hammer will do the job just as well? That appears to be the rationale behind “Sexin’ Islamic girls”, a single off the Bois’s FOKN Wit Ewe (2012) album. On YouTube, it is introduced with the text: “Everyday when the Boko Haram go off on various missions, the FOKN Bois keep their wiveses (sic.), sisters and daughters company.”

If you’re wondering what deep ideological thoughts inspired this song, wonder no more. The duo is clear about where the inspiration for “Sexin’ Islamic girls” came from:

Saw yor bottos in the air

Couldn’t help it
So we stared
Thought u wer lookin 4 somtin
Realised hmmm
U wer pretending
So we put it inside
Under yor bum
Hope we haven’t caused a haram
C d way u sway our salam
Will make u say hamdililailam
How come yor imam thinks we’re wrong?
Extremist blowjob
U r de bomb

No one knows for sure what FOKN stands for, although its implied meaning is fairly obvious. On some occasions, M3nsa and Wanlov have said it means Foes of Kwame Nkrumah, yet they express gratitude for figures like Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Nzinga (Queen of Matamba), Yaa Asantewaa and Cheikh Anta Diop in their song “We dey thank you”. In the online introduction to their music video, “Jesus is coming”, they write that “FOKN Bois have repented & are now born again. FOKN now stands for For Our King Now. We wish to raise Jesus above the heavens.”

It appears that living in the world’s most religious country is a constant source of inspiration for the FOKN Bois. “Jesus is coming” features M3nsa as Jesus, who has returned to Earth/Ghana in 2013 AD and is talking to a group of children about azonto, sex and what turning the other cheek – the bottos cheek of a woman – is all about.

The refrain is “Jesus, he’s coming, Jesus, he’s coming one day”, while all along the voice of collaborator Wusuwaah, high on religious fervour, pleads “Father please come, I need you father, I need you”. The pun is clearly intended. The primary targets of “Jesus is coming” are the prosperous evangelists who have become powerful in countries such as Ghana and Nigeria. One scene in the video depicts a group of preachers who are angry that the coming of Jesus means there will be no more opportunities to make money off the flock.

FOKN Bois’s music constantly speaks to and tests social tensions – for example, the age-old rivalry between Nigeria, West Africa’s most populous country, and Ghana, a country that likes to describe itself as “the gateway to Africa”. Currently, this rivalry is for the most part friendly, unlike in the early 1970s when Nigerians were kicked out of Ghana on the end of Kofi Abrefa Busia’s Alien Compliance Order. In the 1980s, the “Ghana Must Go” saga saw the enforcement of Nigeria’s own expulsion legislation and the forcible exile of Ghanaians from that country. In 2011, ahead of a friendly football match between Nigeria’s Super Eagles and Ghana’s Black Stars, FOKN Bois released a single, “Thank God we’re not a Nigerians”, sparking an outburst of social commentary.

 What distinguishes FOKN Bois from the crowd of Ghanaian rappers and musicians jumping on the latest azonto craze is the satire that runs throughout all of the duo’s music. FOKN Bois stand out for their consistent stance against conservative moralism, their criticism of the blind aping of the western world, and for holding up a looking glass to the hypocrisy of the pseudo-religious. No one escapes the ire of the Bois, not even presidents. The statement on their Facebook page about the misnaming of a new Ghanaian highway in 2012 captured the sentiments of many Ghanaians: “Kuffour, idiot! Mills, idiot! You take Nkrumah’s plans to make motorway and name it George Walker Bush Motorway??? George Bush?? I’m ashamed!”

People in Makola Market, one of West Africa’s biggest trading locations, would have seen M3nsa and Wanlov a few months ago roaming the streets, yellow jerry cans on their heads, asking for coins to ‘Help America’ – as per their song of the same name, in which the duo discuss the US financial recession while simultaneously making fun of the ‘white saviour complex’:

Bill just closed the gates
Everybody go home
Your micros gone soft
Open windows to no homes
“Hi I’m the rep from Africa, I came in a hurry
My brothers from Ghana said to bring you some gari”
Coz Hilary hala Kampala say Yankee dey hala
Aloe Blacc wasn’t joking when he begged me for a dollar

In some respects, however, the duo appears to be no different from mainstream American rappers who peddle misogynistic depictions of African women. The cover for Coz Ov Moni – The Remix EP (2010) depicts M3nsa and Wanlov on either side of a woman with Sarah Baartmanesque buttocks, the silhouette of the same reappearing on the cover of yet another album, The FOKN DunaQuest in Budapest (2011). (“Duna” translates as “arse”, from the Ghanaian language Ga.)  The imagery on the VCD for the film Coz Ov Moni is not radically different.

When faced with this criticism, the Bois reply:

We also admire the minds and hearts of African women, but to depict those organs graphically would seem morbid. So we decide to depict what women shake in our eyes that attracts us the most and leaves visual imprints in our cortex. Bear in mind the thresholds of what one might deem misogynistic are relative. If we were hard-core Muslims making music and always using women’s eyes in our works we might soon be branded Muslim misogynists

The duo also starred in and co-produced Coz Ov Moni, billed as the world’s first pidgin musical. The film can be described as FOKN Bois meet Bollywood-style choreography, interwoven with snapshots of a quintessentially Ghanaian way of life.

Forty-five minutes long, the musical presents a day in the life of M3nsa and Wanlov. The Bois wake up with the simple goal of retrieving money from a debtor, but are instead kwashayed (robbed) and left for dead, landing up in a strange spirit world where the touch of masked women, beads around their gyrating hips, leave their bodies writhing in agony.

In true FOKN Bois fashion, social commentary is everpresent in a film that fits firmly within the genre of comedy: “If you have extra food put some in my mouth/If not I will curse you with gout”. The lengths to which people go to obtain money is the theme running through the film. Lovers of Ghanaian hiplife would recognise the significance of the FOKN Bois and a cast of extras dancing to Pat Thomas’s Sika y3 Mogya” (“Money is blood”) just before they go chasing down the man who owes them money. Although hobbling along on crutches, their debtor runs faster than anyone else – one of many comedic highlights in the film. A scene with references to pilolo, chaskele, alikoto, dummy, ludo, oware, ampe, mummy and daddy, doctors and nurses, playing with home-made cars, and twi tyre – games that children in Ghana used to play – likely put Ghanaian viewers in a nostalgic mood. Although the pidgin musical was clearly made with a Ghanaian audience in mind, people all over the world can watch the full movie for free on YouTube, fully subtitled in English for those who don’t understand the vernacular.

A number of well-known figures have cameos in the film, including reggae musician Samini, hiplife legend Reggie Rockstone, and hip-hop photographer Mike Schreiber. Coz ov Moni by all accounts was a runaway success, with its two-day premiere in Accra completely sold out, and subsequent premieres and festival screenings across the globe.

Like many innovators, FOKN Bois are more acclaimed abroad than they are at home, where they get little airplay on radio and have been conspicuously absent from the nomination lists of the Ghana Music Awards. This absence seems to be more a result of the conservative nature of Ghanaian society, particularly in the corporate sector that sponsors such events and appears to hold sway over who gets nominated, who wins and who doesn’t.

But a paucity of homegrown awards, the Bois insist, is in no way an indication of a lack of popularity at home: “We are more popular in Ghana among the people, but we don’t get played much on the radio because we are deemed too controversial by the powers who don’t need the people to think. However we get more shows abroad because of just this.”

Whatever your thoughts are about the controversial duo, it is clear that the FOKN Bois are a musical force to be reckoned with. As the Bois state in “BRKN LNGWJZ”, a song in which they seek to answer those who don’t really know their identity: “We are clever…”

 
CHRONIC ISSUE 2This article was originally published in the Chronic (March 2013).

In this issue, artists and writer from around the world take on the philanthropic complex to unravel the philosophies of dependency and power at play in the civil society of African states. To read the article in full get a copy in our online shop or visit your nearest stockists.
Buy the Chronic

 

 

 

Buy the Chronic
 

Similar Posts:

    None Found

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Latest Product