Ayke Ezeani
by on December 28, 2018

On the 8th of September 1980, Emmanuel Owusu-Bonsu, also known as Wanlov the Kubolor, was born into a Ghanaian-Romanian family in Ghana. Emmanuel " Wanlov the Kubolor" left Ghana after some years and moved to the United States to study Computer Science and Business Administration at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor. Due to his passion for music, in 2002, he dropped out varsity in order to become fully immersed in his music career.

Departing Ghana to an entirely new continent and country, the United States, was an experience and a sojourn that was not an easy one for him. Knowing Wanlov’s background, the lyrics in his song “Smallest Time” are probably telling the story of his journey to a new place where he believed he would be afforded more opportunity, but instead it is the complete opposite of his expectations.

Lyrically he sang: “Seems like just yesterday, left home so far away/ Memories remind us that destiny would find us…/ Africa I miss you…”. Already with the intro and into the hook, listeners are being exposed to a story of diasporas through Wanlov as he expresses how much he misses his home in Africa.

Another verse chronicles the obstacles that he faced as an immigrant in a new country which many people of diasporas face. Wanlov says: “US border, visa required/ College degree, unexpired/ No school fees, visa expired/ Funds wired, money perspired/ Now broke, day job desired/ You are hired, then I got fired/ Got married, green card acquired/ But now I am tired, so I retired”.

Following that verse lie more portrayal of Wanlov’s struggle to adjust to the loneliness that moving to a new country brings. He lays bare this despair by saying: “I never know say there hard/ Sometimes I got so lonely, wanted to see my family/ Spent money on phone calls/ Voices helped me cross those pitfalls…/ I don’t know if I can make it through another day”.

From Wanlov’s early life and decision to travel to the United States alone, “Smallest Time” begins to speak volumes for other people in the diaspora as well. Many immigrants experience the sense of loneliness and unhappiness on the journey of searching for the “better life” in a new country. “Smallest Time” was Wanlov the Kubolor’s way of being transparent with his audience about his journey to the United States and what hardships he encountered living here.

Wanlov the Kubolor is known for his artistic  and unique way of speaking out about humanity in his pidgen (street language) style. With couple of albums out and another on the way, Wanlov is known to most as an orgnic  and original artist.

Being born in Romina but grew up in Ghana, Wanlov's music comes from his roots. Unlike most African hip-hop artist, Wanlov broke away from the stereotype ideology that  rapping must be done in an American way. It’s not until his sophomore album, Brown Card-African Gypsy, that we see Wanlov grow as an artist. Wanlov feels that’s his sophomore album are his ideas and he’s performing them as Wanlov. At one point in his career, Wanlov felt as though every time he went up on stage to perform, he was really rapping out his ideas and norms but at the same time he felt as though he was acting it out as well.

Wanlov as an artist managed to achieve for his audience or fans an understanding, a human experience and upbringing of two worlds. One will always find Wanlov walking barefoot in the streets of Ghana where he returned to after his stint in America. Wanlov is a true Kubolor, because as an artist and a person, there will always be an adventure with him.

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