When «BRKN LNGWJZ» by the FOKN Bois (Wanlov the Kubolor and M3nsa) was released, I had to watch the video over and over again. It was different from what I have seen in other videos by Ghanaian artists. I related to it easily, amazed by the creativity and honesty of their lyrics. This is why I am a fan. The video includes three major locations: the church, the streets, and the bush. From the Norient book Seismographic Sounds (see and order here).
CHURCH: In Ghana, the church is a sacred place where pastors, reverends, and evangelists are held in high esteem and congregants will not utter obscenities even close to the building, let alone inside. The FOKN Bois, however, defy these conventions of acceptable church behavior. Though most of what they are rapping about is true, it would be frowned upon or not accepted by most Ghanaians. In their lyrics they share with fans their good and bad habits alike, in an undiluted and uncensored manner. They become «the born-again sinner», «the ‹my son things are gonna get better› hearer», «the sexy nun non-believer». Whilst one talks about how he likes to «finger» girls, the other is rapping about how he loves grabbing breasts. They sing in church in just their boxer shorts while the pastor preaches to his congregation.
An Area Known for Hustlers and Prostitutes
STREETS: From middle-class homes, the FOKN Bois’ childhood was filled with certain «dirty» habits like catching tadpoles in gutters, picking noses, or stealing from home. The street in the video is «Tiptoe Lane» in Accra, known for hustlers, drug peddlers, pickpockets, and prostitutes – a place where everyone is careful because something bad could happen at any time. Wanlov wraps a cheap piece of cloth around his neck, which is a style called «collar» and is adopted by the less privileged. M3nsa is clad in a rich kente cloth, a type of colorful woven fabric made by interweaving yarns on the loom, worn mostly by the rich. The two are opposites and represent togetherness between the rich and the poor.
BUSH: In Ghana, you will see the rich – from businessmen to ministers in their suits – being chauffeured in posh, air-conditioned cars. One can also deceive others easily by just wearing a suit, as it’s virtually synonymous with wealth. The FOKN Bois trash this perception. They climb trees, play around in the bushes, and farm in suits, upending any connotations associated with the attire.
«BRKN LNGWJZ» is made up of so many unusual moments that will offend many—including when they play the characters of a pastor and an Imam in a «brothel» – but the FOKN Bois create humor out of every serious situation and this is what makes them different.
This text was published first in the second Norient book Seismographic Sounds. Click on the image to know more.
Read More on Norient
> Georg Milz: «Talking Sex in Ghana»
> Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah: «The FOKN Revenge»
> Norient: «‹contratict› – aka Sound Translations»
> Samuel Burri: «Armtanz Azonto»
> Stefan Franzen: «Der Trickster aus Ghana»
> Stefan Franzen: «Afro-Ulysses im Doppelpack»
> Thomas Burkhalter: «Visions of a New World – Ghana»
> Wanlov the Kubolor: «Five Video Clips from Ghana»