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    ‘Rumours that I don’t wear underwear might be true’ - Wanlov

    by Abimbola Adelakun, punchng.com
    posted Friday, 10 April 2009 20:27| 0 Comments

    On a given day in Accra, the capital city of Ghana, you might catch him on the road: barefooted, clad in skirt and with a mass of dreadlocks on his head. He could be walking about alone or with fellow musicians playing his two koshkas (pendulum shakers) or his atenteben (bamboo flute).

    His fans, young and old, would draw after him listening, dancing and singing along. On such days, Wanlov Owusu-Bonsu, popularly called Wanlov The Kubolor (pronounced“coo-bor-law”) is happiest amongst the people he says inspire him to be the truest version of himself.

    He started performing publicly in high school at Adisadel College in Cape Coast in 1995, but went professional in 2004 while living in Killeen, Texas. He released his CD, Green Card in 2007 after a seven year stay in the US. Green Card has several nominations already.

    “I did a little music class here and there while I was a child,” Kubolor says “but I never took it seriously enough to learn notation and so on.” He doesn’t regret being unserious with learning formal music. He says it would have impeded his creativity and confined him to rote learning. He claims he knows enough to enable him play the flute, piano, and many percussive instruments.

    He was born of a Ghanaian father and a Romanian mother. The mixed breed is responsible for his skin colour – too light to be African and too dark to be European. The search for identity between two worlds inspired him to write My Skin and Human Being. Human Being won the 2006 WCS International Song Contest and is also serving as the soundtrack to the anti-child trafficking campaign led by UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Children in Ghana.

    Of his trademark appearance, Kubolor says it is nothing mystique.

    “I wear dreadlocks because I like the hairstyle and convenience. All I have to do is wash my hair and oil it. I got tired of braiding my hair. I never liked going to the barber ever since I can remember. However, I am not a Rastafarian. Dreadlock is a hairstyle indigenous beings have been wearing thousands of years before the Rastafarian religion. Also, I don’t wear shoes because it feels good without it. Different textures and sensations against my sole make me feel more alive than when I used to wear shoes,”

    Wanlov, however, wears shoes in winter. Wearing skirt, (or wrap, as he calls it), is part of his person.

    “There are even rumours that I don’t wear underwear.”

    But are those rumours true ? He laughs before he responds. “Rumours and rumours of no underwear might very well be true, but would you expect anything less radical from a Kubolor?”

    He was raised in a home where both parents were avid collectors of music and other forms of eclectic art and it has influenced Kubolor so much that he has a unique perspective on life; a fact evident in his music.

    Wanlov sings in Pidgin English and adds here that one of his influences is the legendary Afrobeat king, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. His kind of music blends medley of songs from different parts of the world with a strong background of Hiplife and Indigenous Ghanaian sounds.

    “The messages in my song range from everyday things like traffic; personal issues like My Skin that addresses the things I went through in life for being a mixed race being, to fantastic fictional stories like Supa Chompia, a little child who has magical powers and goes around the world solving real problems.”

    His other influences include Gyedu-Blay Ambolley, Reggie Rockstone and his parents.

    He has been roundly described as one of the most refreshing and original artiste of the times because of the way he uses the music of his generation and yet lives out his true roots. Kubolor is so respectful of nature and this is greatly felt in his music. He delivers it in his melodic accent which has come to be his style and it is organic in its core.

    He has generated a diverse fan base and he manages to reach them not only sonic, wise, but culturally and visually too. He manages to hold this combination together by his own special and highly appealing brand of consciousness. He insists he will follow this path and will not modify his style to fit the mould of pre-existing genres. Kubolor hopes to inspire others to create a personal evolutionary path for positive change.

    He might be succeeding already because Green Card, was nominated at the 2008 Ghana Music Awards for Discovery Of The Year, Record Of The Year, Video Of The Year, and Hiphop Song Of The Year.

    Even though the Ghanian music industry is developed, Kubolor admits that the Nigerian music industry is far ahead. One, Nigerian musicians are better patronised by their local audience and two, they use their indigenous languages and are still accepted. Most Ghanian musicians, he says, still think they need to sound American or Jamaican to be accepted.

    He strongly believes that pidgin music is more original and should be explored. As much as he loves music, he says he wants to explore visual art as well.

    “I got into art at one point. I did several drawings of body parts of women on the wall in my room. By the time I returned from Texas, my mother had painted over the wall.”

    That set his art career back, though he believes one day he will pick up visual art once more.

    “That will be in two years time, when I am 30.”


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