DJ Mensah born in Labadi, a suburb of Greater Accra was christened Michael Mensah.
As son of a father who believed in education first, he was given the liberty to choose any career of his choice only if only he will stay in school. “Looking back, I have really been to a lot of places to learn stuff related and not so related to whatever I’m doing now. In high school, I read business before switching to Visual Art at some point. I then read Purchasing and Supply at Accra Polytechnic before moving to get a Marketing degree at Central University.
“I also did a lot of short courses at GIJ because I was interested in hosting, DJing, Presenting and stuff like that as I was growing. With all these I wasn’t sure I wanted to work in a radio station locked in a little booth where you couldn’t see the reaction of the people you were playing for. I wanted to be on the scene like the club DJ’s and event DJs and feel what is happening at the scene.”
DJ Mensah gives lots of credit to Nana Afful; a music event equipment owner who gave him a chance to use his equipment to sharpen his skills. “He bought equipment for hiring to outdooring and funeral events and put me in charge of it. I use to go out a lot to listen to music and how it was played and mixed but I came home and had nothing to rehearse with. Even though I couldn’t play at that point, I was convinced I could do better than most of the people I listened to. So when Nana Afful started inviting me out for his gigs, I started learning on the job.
“I started playing what I had in my head and we always went two hours clear before the events and so I had a little space to rehearse before most events started. And I was this young and very short boy whom people could barely see from the other side of the turntables dropping all the right music.
“I became the in house DJ at Aphrodisiac Nite Club at the time and then Fred of Charter House who is now with Evolution told me he was going to put me on the big stages then. True to his word I found myself on the stages of Stars of The Future, Agro and the rest.
DJ Mensah growing up knew he wanted and was destined to be a DJ, but the kind of DJ kept eluding him. “I wanted to do what all the big DJs were doing but in a different way.”
Currently, one cannot mention the top five DJs in the country without mentioning his name The Untouchable as his fondly called by his peers believes there’s still places he can push things and make the brand bigger. “I’m not on radio or regular TV but I am doing my own thing and gaining the respect I want. Yes, I do appear for segments on Phamous TV but that’s not major and regular like most DJ’s have in the country.”
The appearance of The Untouchable DJ at events is a signal that BET winner Sarkodie is coming on stage and this obviously is an enviable position he occupies. With all this great energy around him and his act, Mensah is still cool, calm and collected. “I’m a very reserved and very shy person and if you don’t know me you wouldn’t believe it when you meet me. Some people wonder why I’m not hyper but in the business of DJing but I think it’s different when I’m on stage. I don’t have to be a talkative to be great at what I do, I’m a beast when I get on the turn tables.
“I’m reserved and quiet but it takes time for me to open up to people. If I’m around people I’m not comfortable with, it’s hard for me to open up to them but once we know each other those people enjoy my company a lot.”
With all the success DJ Mensah has chocked he still believes he has more to offer the DJing culture in Ghana.
“My plan when I started and now is still the same because when I started Ghanaian DJs were not represented well out there.
“I want it to get a point where one can say he or she is a DJ, and people wouldn’t ask ‘and what else do you do?’. I want it to be respected trade like being a Doctor, Lawyer and Teacher. I want to make it a whole profession and I keep asking myself what I need to do for people to know it’s a whole profession on its own. What I do now is market myself and organizes my own events so companies can partner with me to entertain people while we make money.”
“I cannot do it all by self so I have a team who help me promote my stuff online” He reveals, “and I have young DJs I’m training who warm up before I come up to play and I look at my calendar with Sarkodie before I come up with my shows dates. Anytime I have to travel with him I push mine to the next week so things don’t conflict and done well. I’m having fun doing what I like and making a living out of it.
Being a laid back person playing for a hyper crowd requires a lot of patience and DJ understands that.
“It’s everything, you are entertaining people who are drunk and hyped and pouring liquor on your equipment, if you are not patient you will spazz on them. But one needs to remind himself every time that you are the reason why they are happy and so there no need to fight them.
On a scale of one to ten he believes the DJing industry is at a five now and has more room to improve.
“It’s on five now because we can do better than we are doing now because there is so much room for improvement. In Ghana, artists are earning between 20K to 60K to play for 25 minutes and a DJ plays for 4 hours and you don’t get a quarter of what the artists get. Some of my friends are earning below 1000 Ghana a month. But as a DJ you have to match up to the name the fans hear, why come off radio and walk to your house. It’s sad, if you go to Nigeria, my DJ friends, and the least cars they are driving is a Range Rover or X5. We can do better.”
Recounting how he met Sarkodie, he tells an unusual story of an artist on the come up whose DJ abandoned him minutes before he hit the biggest stage of his career.
“I went to play a gig in Akosombo and was driving back to Accra. On my way, I had a call from Kosah Brown who used to be on his team; he called and said he wanted to me to play for Sarkodie and I asked how much he was going to pay me; he said he was going to pay me. It was Decemba2Rememba and it was his first major show about five years ago. I rushed to conference center, went to back stage, met him and the team and asked what songs he wanted me to play and he mentioned them. I told him the arrangement and what point I was going to cut the songs and all. He didn’t know that part of performance, I was advising him from a DJ point of view and I showed him which part the crowd will react to and how he should come after they do so. Within five minutes, we were asked to be on standby. I told him to follow my lead. He had rehearsed with this DJ for three weeks and he didn’t show up. He sent a mixtape of what they had rehearsed and asks them to play that, but we went on stage and we nailed it. It was one of his best shows. It looked much rehearsed but it wasn’t and even till date we have never been in a room to rehearse for a performance.”
DJ Mensah is living his dream now as he travels the world to play alongside Sarkodie.
“It’s the biggest opportunity I have gotten because I know a lot of DJs will have loved to be in my position. It’s hard to go international and Sarkodie giving me the opportunity to travel around the world with him is a privilege because sometimes some clubs invite me back to perform alone. I’m glad he is there and taking me to all these places. With him I’m getting the opportunity to go play at the international parties and events and that was one of dreams I had. He feels I’m a brand now and even though I’m working with him I should extend my brand to do other things. He wants to see me manage it well. He always jokes that when manages me, I’m going to be bigger that he is. Because he feels there are ways and means to push the brand to do more than it’s doing now.”
Source: YFMGhana.com/abdullai isshak