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Talking Verses: M3NSA on “Far Away”

“Sometimes I just need to be alone/Sometimes I just want to be in my own zone”. M3NSA croons on the short bridge connecting his rap verse to the hook of “Far Away”, the sixth song- and one of the instant standouts off Joey B’s recently released “Lava Feels”. Having listened to the song a couple of times, I’m still surprised the record was not produced by M3NSA.

Anyone who has followed M3NSA’s musical exploit would assume he produced the record due largely to the quality work on “Far Away”. It is mellow, soulful, serene and carries a whirl of tenderness. The beat is trimmed off any maximalistic excesses. It falls right under the “M3NSA production template”, as works like “Esi Araba”, “Fante Love Song”, “S.D.I”, “Kelewele Pimpin” and “BushMan” confirms. “Far Away” is, however, produced by Mike Kwa6i (formerly known as Yung Fly), one of my favourite producers. Not surprised at all, if you think about it.

M3NSA’s musical exploits is one this blog has covered, to an extent. His appreciation of music, in his capacity as a musician and producer is shared on his work as one-half of the famed duo, FOKN Bois and a half of RedRed. Like fine wine, M3NSA’s missives have assumed a more sharper, conscious, almost Pan-Africanist tone. Whether on songs for FOKN Bois projects, RedRed or his own albums, he has never bitten his tongue on subjects he considers important. Politicians, Ghanaians and social media trolls have been at the end of his wits and sarcasm.

“Far Away” is a detailed account of the burden that comes with being successful and an artist; how everybody wants a piece of you for one reason or another. It also highlights how this success – real or perceived – impacts on an individual’s mental health. “Far Away” also points to how artists/public figures, despite getting harassed or trolled by people on social media, are required to be the ‘bigger person’ – meaning they should take it in their strides and not clap back.

One can not place a thumb on when “Far Away” was recorded. Based on Joey B’s commentary prior to the release of “Lava Feels”, it might have been a couple of years ago, say 3 years. On his verse, Joey B touches on his days running around on lean pocket about and the barrage of social pressures that often plagues individuals like him. And, the often misconstrued notion of being comfortable because you have a job.

The verse by M3NSA took a different angle without diluting the theme of the song. On the verse, he raps about concerning himself with the most precious things in his life and cutting out the fluff- unwarranted expectations and stupid pressures, including cynicism from fans on social media which could sink a thin-skinned artist into the pit of depression.

And no, I love my people but of course I get my limits/Cos e no dey ky3 before I sauce say I dey talk to dimwits”, M3NSA declares on his verse. For M3NSA, ‘nonfa (worthless) conversations’, like ‘what he dey drive (car)/where e dey live” are petty issues that adds zilch to his life, thus treating them with contempt.

Age and experiences hand you a good tunnel vision of what is bound to happen before it occurs. M3NSA has been in the game long enough to sense this from afar. His longevity, notwithstanding, ‘the boy is never used to the fame though it’s nothing new to him’. If you have been following him on twitter, you would not be too surprised by this assertion.

Rather than get caught up in the frivolousness of online debates and conversations, the incredibly talented artist/producer would rather invest his time in priorities of life like “building my skills and looking for real things/ (spend) time with my children/constantly filtering… observing from a distance no mean say I forgot you'”.

The production, the theme, the message delivered aside, the outstanding thing about M3NSA’s verse is the tone of voice in which he delivered his message. His words were stern and straightforward like that of a parent towards a child. It also brimmed with no malice or anger. The verse had maturity written all over it.

For an artist who has been in the game for two decades, hearing a verse like this from M3NSA should not come as a surprise. I’m not surprised by the words that formed over the beat. Artists are regular people with the same feelings, suffer mood swings and deal with a host of other demands in the lives like all of us. Just as M3NSA proffered on the verse, sometimes fans must ‘study the rudiments, apply some tact and observe the mood’ an artist is in before engaging them. “Famous people need to eat, and shit and brush their goddam teeth”. Never forget Paperboi’s advice on “Atlanta (S02E05)

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