M3NSA Sticks To His Roots on “Carry You Go”
By: Nana Fredua-Agyeman
‘’M3NSA is looking at the long term and understands that you may seem to be doing well but you are not legit. You are just an industry caricature, you are made up, not your true self’’
The entire BONDZIE album is a metaphor for creativity. Though I am only a music consumer, I am an afficionado of quality music and a proponent of anything artistic. The artistry expressed on this album is unparalleled and incomparable. It stands out. It is creativity beyond the horizon of possibilities for most artistes.
M3NSA belongs to the League of Extraordinary Artistes. A group that has fewer than a handful of artistes. Artistes to whom the “art of creativity” is a calling and the major determinant in their craft. The driving force of that spiritual journey. Music is spiritual. Even the world was created through sound – whether you are a creationist or Big Bang believer.
How else can one open an album that personifies creativity than a track that oozes this creative juice – both as a subject matter (i.e., content) and as a characteristic feature (an idiosyncrasy of M3NSA).
“Carry You Go” is M3NSA’s commentary or statement on the industry and his response to certain push factors. The track begins with a paradox, presented as an adage of the masses. Is what you know only a result of what your eyes tell you? M3NSA believes that people are bamboozled by the glitzy artificial lights the industry continuous to shine, which gaslights people to believe, ascribe, or even accede that what they see is the ultimate; thus, taking the agency of knowledge, of cognition, and of choice away from consumers. Consumers become regurgitators of the industry cud.
“What you dey feel sey you know be what your eyes dey tell you”
M3NSA quickly follows this opening line with his solutions for these regurgitators, these marionettes under the control of industry puppeteers, these zombies. Though the remedies are available to them, if they still hold on to the illusions the market is selling them, they can remain in the delusions of their knowledge. Otherwise:
Remedy One: If what you see sums up what you know, you need to open your mind.
Remedy Two: If what you know is a result of what your eyes tell you, then a change in the space you occupy, a journey into new spaces, will open your mind to new things and expand the boundaries of your knowledge.
“Unless you dey buy everything market dey sell you
Make I carry you go some new place
And if you no open your mind, your eyes go dey fail you”
M3NSA added that if you “stay inside this box, no bond go fit bail you”. If you refuse the remedies provided and you choose to stay in your limited space under the control of ignorant, self-interested, industry players, then no one can help you. You are your own problem. The “box” signifies fixed boundaries as in “Think outside the box”, whereas “bail” (which rhymes with fail) signifies “freedom”, as in being “bailed from prison”. The use of “bond” is such a twist. Bonds in chemistry measures the strength of the forces of attraction between atoms. The stronger the attraction, the stronger the bond. Bond has other meanings: pecuniary (certificate with interest), restraints, covenant, surety (one who provides bail) etc.
The next stanza is M3NSA telling us about his artistic journey. Why will this creative person begin to lose interest in rap? Why will he stop “feeling” the rap? Why will he remain unaffected by rap? Were his creative juices sapped away by consumer neglect, those zombies under the industry’s charms? Has he been affected by expectations and endless requests to conform?
“For some time den rap start dey bore me
Then I stop dey feel am, no dey do nottin’ for me
They say M3NSA where you go dey? We see u cher
Sark den M.ani come reach, we no dey see you here
FOKN Bois be some fokn noise man we need you here
You start dey follow your man, you no dey see too clear“
These lines are representative questions stans and fans ask on the daily of their artistes, especially if they are non-conformists. Though artistes have life on their own, fans tend to think they know more about what is going on in their lives or what is good for them than they know themselves. The fact that M3NSA dropped “Sark” and juxtaposed it with “M.ani (M.anfest)” is no coincidence. Sark is popular, has a large following, has received all the awards, and is considered an industry favourite. His path is considered the standard. M.anifest (who is on this album) is known for his lyrics, pen game, dedication to the craft (as his mantra is “Art Comes First”), and unwillingness to kotow to industry expectations. He is known for his unyielding creative process.
Mdot/Mani is not an industry favourite and has charted his own path. These two artistes are always put at the opposite ends of the rap continuum, and M3NSA’s fans are decrying why they cannot find him at the “place of arrival”. People are even questioning why he linked up with Wanlov the Kubolor, the other half of FOKN Bois. They claim he has since changed or lost his focus (“you no dey see too clear”) and that they need the “old M3NSA” back (“we need you here”). But M3NSA has the responses.
M3NSA provides the answers to these taunts (this is how he refers to the questions) in the succeeding lines, including answers to why he has lost interest in rap. He indicated that he’s been raising the bar, but no one seems to care. In the midst of mediocrity, excellence is seen as abnormal or an enemy.
He even dared people to match the levels he and Wanlov had gone – the barriers they had broken to lift the creative bar. One only needs to listen to Afrobeats LOL to appreciate what M3NSA is referring to. He made it clear he will not cede an inch; not give in to these baseless criticisms. For as he is “Steady raising the bar…” he “need new peers”. This is the reason he might have gone quiet. In the end, he considers the criticisms as drivels of fools, and he doesn’t “take much for fools to talk a little loose here”.
M3NSA described music as “easy like do- re- me”. What one can deduce from this is, and from the next lines, is that he is weaving a mystery tapestry body of work; but if you can’t get the “cue den don’t blame” him. M3NSA understands his journey and so not worried about the shenanigans of his detractors. After all, they have no “appeal” and they don’t really interest him. They are the “liars and attorneys” who want to “burn” him and they, having “lost the way” want to turn him “away from my journey”.
He acknowledges that there are stans who “will go to war for me make my eyes well up” and there are those who are “so negative in dark rooms they develop/ And when they promise you heaven/ Tell em “shut the hell up!””. There is reference to photography in these lines: the negatives developing in the dark rooms and the contrast between heaven and hell. M3NSA asked a very important question: between the psychotic fans (and Ghana has a toxic/psychotic music fanbase) and the sycophants (the pretenders), which of these two “make your head swell”.
Fanbase in Ghana is known for two things: support the artiste without question (for to question, to use your mind, is to be a black sheep) and destroy every other artiste who is considered a threat to the artiste in question. These stans are known for giving fake accolades. They hardly see anything wrong and if you, the artiste, are not intelligent enough, they will lead you to destruction. Fanbase in this part is a collection of stooges with a characteristic groupthink/herd mentality. Then there are the sycophants who, knowing the truth, still choose to purvey falsehood just to be in the good books of the artiste, which comes with “pushing the envelope”, or payola (bribery). M3NSA sarcastically added that “when we say push the envelope” “we don’t mean bribery”. What they mean is to push the creative boundaries.
“Between the sicko fans and sycophants who dey make your head swell up
We don’t mean bribery when we say push the envelope”
The final set of lines are directed at promoters who want to force the non-conforming artiste into their homogenised industry box. The promoters have become the modern-day Procrustes with their Inn and bed, sawing off the uniqueness of artistes or adding extras to them to fit the narrative. But M3NSA is an adherent of Amu Djoleto’s dictum: “Convention and conformity are the foundation stones of decadence”, so he is not yielding. The irony is that the promoters will act as if they understand these non-conforming artistes but still offer suggestions (like sexing it up) aimed at morphing them into the very caricatures they are running away from, suggestions which are antithetical to what these artistes stand for.
“Promoter says he totally gets us
But we still need dancers
To sex it up a little bit and
That will enhance us“
M3NSA is looking at the long term and understands that you may seem to be doing well but you are not legit. You are just an industry caricature, you are made up, not your true self. The true self, if you follow your creative instincts, cannot be purchased on the physical or virtual market, “you no fit buy am/ For Kantamanto or Ebay/ You fit hire am/…”
He ends the track with a request for the addressee to listen to what he is about to say and remember it… a call to remembrance. This call makes the music flow in a cycle, as the ending feeds into the beginning.
Nana Fredua-Agyeman is a Monitoring, Evaluation, and Research Specialist with an interest in the literary arts. He tweets at @nfreduagyeman
Listen to M3NSA’s Album; BONDZIE