The FOKN Bois are your quintessential agent provocateurs. Their music tend to speak truth to power and also tackle issues that afflict humanity, especially those society refuses to address despite their debilitating impact. So, themes like corruption- be it political or economic, social inequality, religious exploitation,lawlessness and indiscipline are the linchpins of most of their musical or cinematic creations.
Take for instance their album “FOKN Wit Ewe”, released in 2012. The album touched on the above enumerated themes. What is of significance is that, humour was employed as a conveyer belt for their epistles. Fast forward to 30th June, 2016 when the duo dropped ‘’FOKN Ode To Ghana’’, a 21 song album that dissected the various strands of the Ghanaian society. Unlike ‘’FOKN Wit Ewe’’, their second album reflected the chagrin and contempt they held against the land of their birth.
Their newly released album has hit stores. Titled “Afrobeats LOL”, this 7 track album is M3NSA and Wanlov’s efforts at stepping into the afrobeats craze. Unsurprisingly, they aced it effortlessly.
The album offers excitement – sometimes humorous one-liners- and addresses relatable issues in an interesting manner. For instance, the first song “Abena (Tanya Remake), a dirge-like rendition tackles the subject of seeking greener pastures abroad. Abena, the protagonist, is frustrated with the raw deal life down here is handing her, thus her desire to travel outside for a better life. Abena’s desires mirrors that of many youth who, in their desire to succeed in life find diverse means- legal or otherwise to leave the country, sometimes at the peril of their life.
The saying that ‘success has many fathers’ is examined by the duo and Medikal on ‘’Wo Nim Me’’, an afropop tune embalmed with EDM aesthetic. ‘’Wo Nim Me’’ (Do You Know Me?) explores the subject of how people tend to overlook your struggle but are quick to embrace your success. Or try to implant themselves in the success story. ‘’True Friends’’ questions the true value of friendship- how some may not support you, yet would be the first to share in your glory. For the FOKN Bois, their true friends are their fans. Both ‘Wo Nim Me’’ and ‘’True Friends’’ which features Mr. Eazi explore the bigger conversation around the hypocritical attitudes of people, especially when they stand to benefit from your gains.
Love- and its derivatives get a huge look on ‘’Afrobeats LOL’’. Wanlov and M3NSA explore this theme on the lumbering yet infectious ‘’Brukutu’’. On the song, the duo sing-rap about an unrequited love affair. ‘’You no know say me I dey love’’, Wanlov cries out on the hook. M3NSA, switching between pidgin and Fante paints a picture of how his efforts at pleasing his lover goes unheeded. ‘’Brukutu’’, a popular locally brewed beer is used as a metaphor for the deception or the games their lovers are playing on them.
‘’Account Balance’’, a low-tempo song with its dusty 70s palmwine highlife feel peers into the modern heterosexual relationship where money equals love. ‘’I say I love you my baby/ she say that no dey work no more/ So, I for show am my account balance before she go fall’, sings Wanlov to reflect his predicament. With a reputation to protect in Accra City, M3NSA offers her an alternative: they both move to Tarkwa (a mining town in Western Region). But, that’s not an offer she’s going to fall for. M3NSA wants someone he would ‘hustle with’/ build my royal castle with you’. She however, wants to see his bank balance before the love in his heart.
The high-tempo, sahalian kora surrounding ‘’African Holiday’’ has the duo, along with Sister Deborah (who sounds imperious on the hook) and Dex Kwasi encouraging tourism within Africa. Despite its good message, the FOKN Bois ridicule or pointed out the many challenges associated inter-African travels like issues with visa, harassment at borders. If there’s any song on the album with a crossover appeal into mainstream radio, it would be ‘’African Holiday’’.
The seven (7) track album closes with ‘Abena Repatriation”, a song bothering on the issue of immigration and the long request sheets often sent to relatives living abroad by family members. Although the request is for Abena to come back home, Wanlov and M3NSA are quick to remind her of their “iPhones”, “MacBook with retina” display, their ‘nicker boka’ and yes, ‘chewing gum’. In the verses by Wanlov and the evergreen highlife veteran Gyedu- Blay Ambolley (dropping his good old simigwa kwagees), allusions to President Trump’s anti- immigrants policies are pointed out as one of the reasons Abena must come back home.
It is interesting to learn that the FOKN Bois did not set out to make an album that was to celebrate the global goodwill that afrobeats is earning within the ranks of music gatekeepers. The initial idea was to, in line with their antics, mock the cheapening of thr genre rather than its renaissance. However, they ended up creating one of the best albums within the afrobeats genre.
In an interview with MusicMap, M3NSA explained it better: ‘’So the FOKN Bois album has a very simple theme. We’ve always been kind of going against the grain with everything that we’ve done, so we thought we’d make an album taking the mick out of Afrobeats. Not the sound per se, just the subject matter, how sometimes it can be so superficial. Just like a lot of nothing happening, you know? But I guess sometimes people need that’’
‘’Afrobeats LOL’’ eschews the popular aesthetics of today’s afrobeats in terms of its sonic appeal. The themes covered on the album – relationships, wealth, heartbreaks -is relatable and mirrors many of the happenings in the world today. Sonically, this album combines different musical elements- highlife, EDM, hip hop and even jazz elements into a sonic experience. One appreciates the quality of mastering if you are playing the song in a headset. The beats do not grate your ears. It rather offer you a surround experience. Another quality of the album lies in how the songs were sequenced: they flow seamlessly into one another without losing the excitement from the previous song.
‘’Afrobeats LOL’’ is the most commercial album that the FOKN Bois have released thus far. This album has the potential of earning the duo new fans especially in Ghana. It’s funny that the FOKN Bois set out to record an album that was intended to mock afrobeats yet ended up creating an album that sounds better than those released by ‘certified’ afrobeats artists in 10 days. The humor can’t be overlooked.
Buy or stream Afrobeats LOL HERE