RFI Discoveries Award 2011
Wanlov the Kubolor (Ghana)
Wanlov the Kubolor is quite exceptional. The Ghanaian/Romanian has invented his own musical world juxtaposing very different styles. Reggae, Gypsy and "Ghanian high-life music" come together to form what Wanolov terms "Afrogypsy". What a discovery.
Wanlov the Kubolor was born Emmanuel Owusu-Bonsu in Romania to a Roumain mother and a Ghanaian father. He grew up in his father’s homeland. At home, his mother hummed lullabies in Romanian and his father listened to the best American funk and soul of the time. As a teenager he exchanged recordings of hip-hop and traditional drumming with his friends.
He went to study in Texas, USA. He tried his hand at freestyle and got a name for himself locally (Spooky) when he took part in certain events.
In 2005, he participated regularly in Project Blowed in Los Angeles, an open stage where the best underground rappers and DJs performed. He got a great reputation and revealed a talent that was widely appreciated.
In 2007, he returned to Ghana to promote his own music and released a first album Green card under the name Wanlov the Kubolor. It was produced by the Pidgen Music label, whose main subject is emigration. The following year he was nominated for the Ghana Music Awards in several categories; Discovery of the Year, Album of the Year, Video of the Year and Hip-hop Song of the Year, showing his increasing popularity in his country of origin.
One of the tracks, Human Being, was selected by UNICEF to use in its campaign against child-trafficking.
The album Yellow card was released in 2010 (during the football World Cup in South Africa) and denounced governmental corruption. In the same year he was the winner of the “Visas pour la creation” program run by the Institut Français. So he came to Paris to be musician in residence at the Cité des Arts in order to prepare his latest work. The work, a joyful blend of sounds from the Ghanaian high-life infused with reggae, and combined with gypsy overtones, proved a perfect way for Wanlov the Kubolor to embrace his two cultures of origin.
The album is called Brown Card - The African Gypsy and was released in March 2011 in Accra with the Pidgen Music label. It was the Disc which officially gave the world a new musical genre: Afrogypsy.
Between the 3rd and the12th of June 2011, he took part in the European tour organised by Équation musique, a grant program for producers from the South led by the OIF (Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie) and the Institut français.
Translation: Caroline Preller