In 2010, BBC World Service aired musician, Mensa, singing one of his classic hits, “Anaa,” a soulful, sultry song named after a Ghanaian Akan word meaning“what’s your opinion?” Ten years later, after exploring different expressions with projects that he co-founded like Fokn Bois and Red Red, Mensa still wants to know what people think – and he has some strong sentiments he plans to share with his fan base, which stretches across a cross cultural audience.
Coming soon, Mensa is releasing “Bondzie - Speak Up”, the second album following his successful debut album, No. 1 Mango Street. The eclectic record was written and produced as an expression of the artist process and can be a catalyst for other people feeling the same emotions through Mensa.
“The process of making this album was building inside of me for a long time,” Mensa told Bôhten in an interview. “I have been observing so much over these past few years and now is the time to present to the world a narrative that represents feelings of a Ghanaian, a diasporan reconnecting with his past and moving forward.”
His roots are in Ghana, says Mensa Ansah, who moved from Ghana to the U.K. at a young age. “Being exposed to different cultures I made a conscious effort to learn more about the things embedded in me. I’ve learned to absorb different things, but I am always reminded that my foundation is in a place called Accra.”
Being from Ghana has also exposed him to his love for music. highlife was instrumental for him, but he also found he had a passion for hip-hop, jazz and soul. Up until this day, he says that music enticed his love for current affairs and social commentary. He credits music (specifically hip hop) for educating him about different cultures and systems throughout the world.
“When Jay Z used to reference Basquiat, I found myself delving more into Black Painters. Hip hop has allowed me to not be limited to anything. It has made me have a better appreciation for country, classical and so many other genres.”
Earlier this year, Bôhten partnered as a sponsor of Mensa’s upcoming music documentary entitled “A-Live,” which will become available to the public close to his album release. The joint project will be a live version of four carefully selected tracks on the album and will feature live performances recorded in-studio in London.
“This live version of the songs is a ‘stripped’ production, with minimalistic and essential arrangements that aim to reinforce the album’s concept. It’s a way to reconnect Mensa’s sound from the past, looking to the future,” according to a press statement.
Along with Bôhten’s partnership, Mensa has received a grant from the PRS fund for music creators, which supports the development of outstanding songwriters and composers of all genres and backgrounds at different stages of their careers. While the project has been awarded a grant, Mensa and his team are still raising funds, mainly through a Kickstarter campaign, which you can learn more about here.
“Funding is critical to help me to continue telling my story,” he said. With that being said, he is honored “to be a recipient of the PRS grant. It is a head nod, acknowledgment and affirmation for us that we are doing the right thing. It encourages us to keep pushing.”