It takes a few to appreciate the multifarious and endless efforts of pioneers of Hiplife – a Ghanaian musical style that fuses Highlife and Hip-hop. Hiplife has evolved today but it started from somewhere before getting international recognition. However, it took giant and collective efforts by visionaries who contrived the genre.
A few weeks ago, a group of pioneers of Hiplife launched fierce rants and series of arguments over who really originated the genre – having forgotten an unprecedented contribution of one uncelebrated musician Mensa Ansa popularly known in the showbiz circles as M3nsa.
NYDJLive recently had an in-depth interview with the FOKN Bois group member, which, in fact, revealed many jaw-dropping secrets about the uncelebrated hero. Thus, David Mawuli brings you 8 facts you probably didn’t know about the Hiplife pioneer whose contributions made Hiplife what it is today.
1. M3nsa was born into arts
He is a son to Tumi Ebo Ansah -- a celebrated guitarist of British afro-pop sensation, Osibisa, cousin of Joey Ansah, who featured in popular movies such as the “Bourne Ultimatum” and “Batman Begins”. He is also a nephew to decorated Ghanaian film director, Kwaw Ansah, who directed “Heritage Africa” and Kofi Ansah, a well renowned fashion designer who designed clothes for the Royal Family wedding in the 1980s.
2. He went to St. Martin de Porres School
St Martin de Porres School is M3nsa’s alma mater. St Martin de Porres School is one of the few prominent private co-educational schools in Dansoman, Accra founded in 1973.
3. M3nsa is one of the pioneers of Hiplife and has worked with dozens of top stars as a teenager
M3nsa has worked with early Hiplife artistes such as Obrafuor, Reggie Rockstone, Ex Doe, VIP, Sidney of Nananom, KK Fosu, Kofi B, Azigizah, Kweku T, NFL, Yogie Doggy, T Blaze, Tic Tac, Cy Lover, Freddie FunkStone, Abrewa Nana and Shoetan from BukBak.
They are the early Hiplife artistes he produced for, recorded with, engineered their sessions or mixed for as a teenager.
4. He never believed Hiplife had a future even though he was a pioneer of the genre
He told NY DJ Live in an interview “I never really thought of it like that. All I knew was that this Hip-hop music that I loved so much had found its way to Ghana and we’d taken it and made it our own. We weren’t really in competition with Highlife music or Highlife musicians but even they had to jump on it to remain relevant. It was obvious it was going to do what hip-hop had done in the West; and that is to be around for a long, long time.”
5. He is a music teacher
M3nsa teaches Music Production and the fundamental tools in music in the United Kingdom.
6. He has 9 albums
M3nsa has a total of nine (9) studio albums including his un-named first album with LifeLine Family label. Others include “Rapublic (M3NSA)” (2001), “Daily Basses” (2004), “Weather Report” (2007), “Coz Ov Moni 1” with FOKN Bois (2010), “No.1 Mango Street” (2011), “Fokn Dunaquest In Budapest” with FOKN Bois (2012), “Fokn Wit Ewe” with FOKN Bois (2012) and “Coz Ov Moni 2” with FOKN Bois (2013).
The rapper has also produced numerous albums and singles for colleague artistes.
7. He’s got over 12 award nominations and won two as a solo act
If you are wondering if M3nsa has had award nominations as solo act, then the answer is yes. He has over 12 nominations, winning two.
The rapper has over 5 nominations at Ghana Music Awards, 4 Channel O Music Awards nominations, a MOBO Award nomination. He won “Best Song” and “Best Video” at Ghana UK Music Videos Awards.
8. He is HIV/AIDs ambassador and charity worker
M3nsa cares a lot about children so he has been involved in charity works to support kids. He has worked for foundations like Akosia Foundation and Hope Foundation.
He was recently appointed as the ambassador for Kunim Foundation to help provide sexual health services for young people in Africa and encourage them to take HIV AIDS tests to know their status.