There’s an authentic charm about MENSAHIGHLIFE‘s new single, “It’s Cold Oo”, and it’s not just that vintage 70s-style soul in the music. His vocals drip through warm yet hollowed-out 1980s R&B and Burger Highlife vibes that have become his trademark. As an artist, MensaHighlife, more or less engineered his evolution through various experimental releases and short film projects. “It’s Cold Ooo” speaks to a capacity to thrive regardless of the relentless racist, socioeconomic pressures on African immigrant lives in Europe.
Born Stevie Nii Adu Mensah to Ghanaian parents who relocated to Sweden in the early 1970s. Mensah’s father, Chief Mensah, was one of the few Highlife musicians playing in Sweden during the late 1950s. His father’s funk is certainly embedded in MensaHighlife’s unique fusion of his homeland, Nungua’s “LoLo” and mostly-Ga lyrics punctuated by freefalling synths and a sharp bass.
Before relocating to Accra, MensaHighlife was writing and producing for some notable Swedish artists like Seinabo Sey, Sabina Ddumba, ELIAS, Adam Kanyama and Malcolm B. Electronic music in the city is taking on a more riveting texture nowadays, with a number of young artists borrowing from Ghana’s music heydey. MensaHighlife’s draws also from Ga folk music and the high-pitched steel gong mashups of James Town to stomping drum processions from Nungua.
MensaHighlife is currently creating new material with pioneer Azonto producer, Nshona Music. His self titled EP is out this year.