M3NSA Ansah was born to make music. He’s your quintessential artist: a producer, a singer, rapper, songwriter, composer. His music skills is unparalleled. For some, M3NSA is one half of the legendary FOKN Bois. Others will know him as one-half of “RedRed”, a two man band he formed with DJ Elo (Irie Mafia).
The musical genius of M3NSA runs deeper than these two affiliations. He was a member of the high school rap group, Life Line Family whose debut album mesmerized Ghanaians between 1999 and 2000. M3NSA, then rapping under the moniker, Shyne, was pivotal in the making of the album, contributing both production and songwriting skills. After the group disbanded, M3NSA relocated to London, where he continued making music.
But that’s not what is mind-blowing. The story goes back to the year 2000 when Reggie Rockstone was crafting his album, “MEKA”. The album was largely produced by Zapp Mallet. M3NSA, whom M.anifest described at his Ephraim Amu Lectures as a “precocious genius” co-produced one of the tracks, “Mensesa”. He came up with the idea for the beat and contributed additional vocals on the song. Since he was just 15 years at that time, he was not given production credit. Years on, M3NSA would produce a large part of ” Last Show”; Reggie Rockstone’s “retirement” album.
His work with Reggie Rockstone – from playing a producer’s role to guest featuring on some of his songs- placed a shine on him. His place as a formidable rapper was confirmed following the release of “If You Don’t Know”, a classic in all respect.
“No.1 Mango Street”, named after M3NSA’s residential address in Ghana consist of 14 tracks that blend numerous genres of music. The album offers rhythmic sensation, explores poignant themes while showcasing the musicianship of Mr. M3NSA Ansah.
Songs like “Adjuma”, “Afrofunkin” and “Brkn Lngwjz” were built on hip hop; “Fante Love Song” and “Kelewele Pimpin” – two outrageously gorgeous songs leaned towards contemporary highlife. “Dreams”, “No.1 Mango Street” and “We Go Rock” harboured RnB and funk elements.
One of my favourite songs by M3NSA is “Teabread”. I’ve revisited the song many times since I heard it some years back. And, I don’t know the reason(s) for naming a song after a popular brand of bread.
“Teabread” is a three verse song about a man (M3NSA) presenting his reasons for wanting a divorce from his wife. The first verse talks about how he met his ‘wife’ – Efua Bonsua- during a visit to his hometown of Senya Breku. (The verse also identifies M3NSA as a divorcee). The second verse itemizes the “wrongs” by the wife – including her abusive behaviour. On the third verse, M3NSA has hit his tolerance level and decides to walk out of the relationship.
“Teabread” possesses a highlife feel, with M3NSA rapping mostly in Fante. It’s more pleasing hearing him sing or rap in Fante. It may be sheer coincidence that “Teabread” shares similarity with Rex Gyamfi’s classic highlife song “Efri M’akoma Mu”.
“Till death do us part those mean with a heart/Today love’s like a movie and we all play a part… whatever happened to ‘I love you’?/ We should never be apart”. This couplet set the tone for the song. The hook emphasise further the theme of heartbreak, the burden of being in a skewed or unrequited love relationship.
“Teabread” is a cautionary tale about the effects of love at first sight, family dynamics, infidelity and the rush to finding someone to fill the void created by an ex. In sum, not all that glitter is a treasure.