An African gypsy with a Romanian mother. For a while he lived in Romania but his heart, his home, is Africa. In Ghana, where we met him in a place near Accra, Wanlov is a star, but the uniqueness of his music makes him relevant internationally as well, bringing him to South America and New York for a series of shows. He dresses eclectically, with scarves worn like skirts, t-shirt, vest and necktie. This is how he showed up for our meeting in a bar outside the city. “I wore the tie for the first time in 2009 and haven’t taken it off since. It’s part of my style.
I never wear shoes, which is normal here, no one wears them. The problem is when you leave Africa and everyone looks at you strangely, even if they don’t say anything. The only place I was ever refused entry was in Paris at the Beaubourg”.He is his own man, and he lives life his own way, most of the time on his home continent, with frequent overseas trips. He’s an African rasta, free from all rules, with four children spread around the world. One in Los Angeles, one in Copenhagen, one in Brussels and one in London, whom he visits and talks to regularly. In his own way, he loves the idea of family. A free version of it. “My private world is actually my public world. I feel free at home, every where I am or everywhere I go in this world. If I go in front of the president or the queen, I do the same”, he said during a TV broadcast of Delay, where he admitted that, in addition to not wearing shoes, he also goes without underwear, which he then demonstrated for the cameras, provoking a scandal in the African media.
As a pioneer of the new age of young Broken English rappers and singers and Ghana, his first album, Green Card, was nominated for the Ghana Music Award in 2008, then later went on to win Discovery of The Year, Record of The Year, Video of The Year and Hip Hop Song of The Year. After being nominated in 2010 for Best African Act and wining the Visa Pour Creation award, he spent some time in Paris as a guest of the Cité Internationale des Arts, where he composed Brown Card - The African Gypsy, turning the world onto a new genre called Afro Gypsy music.
He defends art and the freedom that artists must have, saying “Arts can’t be censored. It is a problem human beings have all over the world”. With the upcoming release of his second album, his stock is even more on the rise, but he won’t change. He intends to remain unique and independent, an adventurer in music and in life.
***Wanlov subsequently commented on the article, saying that he’d been misrepresented at various points of the article, including the opening paragraph of the article, where he’s quoted as saying, “I never wear shoes, which is normal here, no one wears them”