Paapa, last member to join...
Paapa Mensah, popularly known as Paapa Jeh is a native of Afrika, born and bred in
Ghana, West Afrika, but based in England UK for over 30 years as a drummer, multi-percussionist,
composer, singer/songwriter, performer, and session musician, has collaborated and worked with various
musicians and artists of all styles of music to his credit.
Back in Ghana, he earned himself the popularity of being one of the most exciting drummers to experience among
other kit drummers in the Ghanaian music scene.
A self taught musician, hugely influenced in his teenage years by such artists as NANA DANSO of Pan Afrikan
Orchestra, GYEDU AMBOLEY, DE-ROY EBOW TAYLOR & PAT THOMAS, Paapa had by the age of fourteen, already realised a
clear vision of his future ambition and started working with some of these Ghanaian music stars.
As an ex student of Sekondi College, he enrolled into the school’s Arts and Drama society to enhance
his talents as a cultural drummer and dancer, and went on to become an excellent stage actor, leader and stage
His contribution to the arts and drama and entertainment in general won him performance awards in Sekco, making him
a very popular figure within the whole campus. At the end of his education in his native town of Sekondi, Paapa
Jeh, then known as ‘BIG J’ took to the professional music stage after being spotted by a talent scout to work with
the legendary C.K. Mann’s Carousel 7 as a kit drummer for two years: And for those who still remember the first
ever funky hi-life (ASAFO B’ESUON) by C.K. Mann and Paapa Nyankson will easily recognise Paapa Jeh’s distinctive
drumming talents. He then went on to become the drummer with Pat Thomas and the SWEET BEANS BAND, THE DREW CHASE
DELEGATION, Chester Adams’s UPPERS INTERNATIONAL in Bolgatanga, Northern Ghana, where he was spotted by the late
Kiki Gyan (ex Osibisa) that led to a team up with Kiki and Kofi Ayivor over in England.
After a short spell with Kiki’s band (GHANA), Paapa Jeh was this time spotted by Island
Records that led to him becoming a prominent drummer and member of HI – TENSION (the pioneers of British disco
funk) for three years, with three hit singles and an album to their credit, during which Paapa’s talents as a kit
drummer and multi percussionist were recognised by then top producers like Godwin Logie (Gregory Isaac’s producer),
Biddu (the producer of Carl Douglas of ‘Everybody Wants Kung Fu Fighting’ fame), Alex Sadkin (producer of the
reggae group – THIRD WORLD), Jimmy Senya (producer of STEELE PULSE, and Karen Wheeler of ‘Soul To Soul’ fame) and
many others that Paapa Jeh worked with.
After the split of Hi – Tension, he became involved in various co-production projects, one of which was
the production of a movie sound track for the film ‘Absolute Beginners’, directed by Julian Temple.
As a versatile drummer and percussionist, Paapa’s live and studio session endeavours which has taken
him around the world have been right across the board, performing at events such as the GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL (UK),
EARSHOT JAZZ MUSIC FESTIVAL, SEATTLE (USA), SAN FRANCISCO JAZZ FESTIVAL (USA), BERLIN JAZZ FESTIVAL (GERMANY),
BRACKNELL WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL (WALES), WUPERTAL WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL (GERMANY), JAZZ YATRA (INDIA), GALWAY JAZZ
MUSIC FESTIVAL (IRELAND), MONTREAUX JAZZ MUSIC FESTIVAL (SWITZERLAND), BEIJING INTERNATIONAL JAZZ MUSIC FESTIVAL
(CHINA), and many others across Western/Eastern Europe and the Far East (Asia), working with groups and artists in
the calibre of Teddy Osei of Osibisa, Ronnie Laws (American Jazz Funk saxophone legend), Steele Pulse (Reggae
band), Moire Drum Orchestra (Afrikan Jazz Group), Gasper Lawal’s Oro Band (Nigerian Afro/ Juju Music) and almost
every African live band in the 1980’s and 90’s in London’s African music scene, from Hi-life and Afro Beat to Zaiko
Many other European based Ghanaian music groups and artists in the names of the late Jon K, Ben Brako, A.B.
Crentsil, Bessa Simons, Alf Kari Bannerman, Pauline Oduro, Bucky Leo, Lee Duodoo, have all worked with Paapa Jeh.
Realising his potential as a singer/songwriter and performer, Paapa Jeh embarked on a solo career and through a
number of explosive live performances, clinched various English national TV appearances like ‘THE TUBE’ on BBC 2
with his band – NIGHT SHIFT, and a follow up on Channel 4’s ‘CLUB MIX’ as PAAPA J’s NEW BAG.
In 1992 he independently released his first solo single vinal – ‘SET YOU UP’, a club soul dance groove
track, followed by – ‘TRY IT’, a pop track in England, but realised the need for a change in musical
direction. This realisation was a challenging call to Paapa’s versatility in his song writing, as he worked to
produce a world music debut album – ‘AROUND THE WORLD IN 48 MINUTES’ in 1998, that involved a lot of African and
oriental percussion instrumentation.
In 2002, he took on a personal trip to India to experiment on live performances with Indian musicians on the album
as a way of merging two different rhythmic styles of two different cultures, which was a success. This prompted a
return for series of successful shows in Pune, the western part of India in 2004, which attracted a lot of India’s
Paapa Jeh’s music projects and live performances have always included practical educational music
workshops and classes on general African drumming and percussion instrumentations for pupils and students of all
age groups. Drumming and percussion workshops, classes and lessons are performed and given usually on request or
engagements by community arts co-ordinators, primary schools, colleges and other educational organisations. This
involves working with six year olds to sixteen year age groups, and school teachers as beginners, to performance
Some of the children live performances by pupils from Paapa Jeh’s ‘HAPPY PERCUSSION CLASS’ from Ivydale School have
been at Kingsdale Music Festival (24TH June 2004), Festival Of Voices at Wembley Conference Hall (19th July 2004).
Other live African Drumming and Percussion performance by children from Paapa Jeh’s ‘HAPPY PERCUSSION CLASS’ have
been pupils from John Donne primary school at the 2005 ‘PECKHAM SPLASH’. Paapa also worked on African music
workshop, training and performance with children from Lambeth Children’s Theatre Company as well as teachers at
Paapa Jeh Mensah has since composed, written, recorded and technically produced three albums of different
categories of Ghanaian spiritual hi – life music, a hi – life fusion, and another world music album, all to be
Paapa Jeh Mensah’s KA-BOOM is a Ghanaian hi-life outfit with on lead and backing
vocals, drums and percussions. See youtube for more