Ghana Controversial: Music from the Ground Up

30 August 2019

Content - Film

Young artists in Ghana shake things up as they question global powers and local values with their music.

Ghana Music

In Ghana, a new bold music scene has taken hold.

"Help America!" calls the rap duo, FOKN Bois, as they walk the streets of Accra, shaking a plastic donation bucket at passers-by, a camera trained on them.

"Ghana, we don't have any problems. Americans are suffering," they say, passing vendors and shop fronts.

They begin to rap as part of a music video calling for African countries to help the impoverished and homeless in the United States.

FOKN Bois, made up of friends M3NSA and Wanlov the Kubolor, use their music to challenge the status quo. Using the tools of parody, humour, and protest, they highlight social issues and call for political change.

"We were never raised or trained or programmed to be patriotic, to care about the country," says Wanlov the Kubolor. "We are just raised to know that whatever we are learning is for us to get a visa to go somewhere else or to go to heaven."

But they, along with a new generation of artists - who produce songs, poems, murals, clothes, and more - are investing in home.

Capturing drone footage, shooting videos on iPhones, editing songs in private studios, and streaming music online, they spread a message of confidence and self-love. Using the power of the internet, they contradict mainstream views of their communities, call out politicians, and challenge the messages of megachurches.

"I feel like our people should believe in themselves, that's my dream," says Worlasi, a rapper and producer. "We can be our highest self. We can be strong enough to say no to any external power, fear or force, you know, and just believe in making ourselves better."

But as they push for change, at times the road to progress looks longer than ever, and their work threatens to drain them.

Over the course of five years, Ghana Controversial follows musicians like M3NSA, Wanlov the Kubolor, Adomaa, Worlasi, Akan, Mutombo Da Poet and Poetra Asantewa as they shake things up at home. They have written and produced new songs and videos exclusively for this film in collaboration with Swiss filmmakers. Read the full article on Al Jazeera here.