One can easily tell an experienced artist from an amateur by how they carry themselves on stage when performing. Their stage movement, sequencing of songs and overall act- ability to find balance between performance and audience interaction. This divide becomes more apparent when they are performing with a live band.
These were on display last night when rapper, producer, singer, M3nsa headlined the ‘Accra Hip Hop Festival’ at Alliance Francaise, Accra.
With his four man band- a drummer, two guitarists and a keyboardist- M3nsa, known also as one half of the FOKN Bois (with Wanlov) and Red Red (with DJ ELO), proved once again that, he isn’t only a great musician, but a performer who can sell an experience.
Scheduled to begin at 8 PM, the show kicked off half an hour late; a situation Wanlov, who was the MC for the evening, humorously ascribed to the massive traffic that engulfed the city during the visit of French President, Emmanuel Macron.
It was sound check when I got to the Alliance Francaise a little after 8PM. The band and the sound man where working on the sound frequency and quality. When all was set, M3nsa joined the band on stage for mic check.
As a curtain raiser, M3nsa returned back on stage to begin the show. Wanlov (MC for the event) introduced three artists who took turns to rap on fresh made M3nsa beats. First act was 7:30, a 17 year old rapper who won a rap competition the FOKN Bois had organized three years ago. Now under the care of Wanlov, he earned his name after scoring 7 out of 30 in a French exams.
Hip-hop act, Lykay performed a series of verses over beats by M3nsa. His composure and confidence on stage was incredible. Sister Deborah came next to perform the famous ‘Ghana Jollof’ track. Wanlov took over and rhymed out lyrics of ‘Super Chompia’, off his debut ”Green Card” album.
When M3nsa came back on stage to perform his set with his band, The Light Off, the sizeable crowd were ready to be thrilled. In his ash T-shirt over a coffee dark khaki pants and black sneakers, he wasted no time in adding to the positive energy swirling among the audience .
Most of the songs performed were from his album, ”No. 1 Mango Street” as well as singles from the DJ Elo collaborative ‘Red Red’ album. ‘Anaa’ set the tone for what was to come. ‘Fante Love Song’, ‘How Far’, and ‘Kelewele Pimping’ got the crowd singing aong with gusto. So impressed was he with the crowd during the performance of Fante Love Song that he shared his surprise with ‘I love the GH boys romantic style’
‘Gimme Pinch’ got people playfully pinching each other as the song demanded. M3nsa rolled back the years to the excitement of fans by performing the classic ‘If You Don’t Know’.
A hilarious conversation ensued between M3nsa and Wanlov during the performance of ‘Gimme Pinch’- they both showed what the phrase could mean (Pin chow (noodles) and Pee In Chow all sound like Gimme Pinch o but mean different things).
The throwback set continued with the performance of VIP’s ‘Ahomka Wo Mu’ and the surprise appearance of Reggie Rockstone, who together with M3nsa (who as produced for Regg in his younger years) performed including ‘Men Sesa Da’ and ‘Sweetie Sweetie’.
The curtain finally came down (so we thought) after the performance of ‘Adwuma’ (Work). The crowd who had gathered in front of the stage matched the energy behind the performance. So thrilled was one of the guitarist that, he forgot to strum a solo section when M3nsa signalled.
A.I, who was scheduled to perform earlier showed up after M3nsa’s set, but got the audience to stay for the ‘after party’. He got the crowd to sing and dance along to his set of songs like ‘Grind’, ‘Burn Fat’, ‘Paper’, ‘Moving On’, ‘Marry Jane’ and ‘Anger Management’. Even though he didn’t perform with a band, he didn’t mime either. He sang over instrumentals of his songs.
The event didn’t attract a full house. There were a lot of empty pews at the concert venue. The reasons for that was obvious: the event wasn’t promoted that much and again, there were a lot of events in the city that evening.
The size of crowd, however provided an intimacy that ‘filled to rafters’ events often don’t offer. Also, the sound was great and the performances were well sequenced and coveted no dull moment.
As M3nsa indicated at the end of his satisfying performance, he was the only act (from FOKN Bois) out that night. And he held his own. Imagine the two of them on December 9th at the ‘FOKN Party’. Be prepared.
Songs Performed by M3nsa
If You Don’t Know
Fante Love Song
No One Knows Tomorrow
Show Me How
VIPs Ahomka Would Mu,
Mensesa Da & Agoo (with Reggie Rockstone)