The 19th edition of Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA) was held last night, April 14, 2018 at the Accra International Conference center. What makes this event quite enjoyable is, you get to watch live performances of all the hottest musicians at the moment (well, except Shatta Wale). Enjoy watching all the performances from below:
I define RAP as Rhythmic Afro-American Poetry. A rapper is a poet on a beat. Rap is a beautiful form of art. You wouldn’t have to wait for 30 seconds for one to finish a sentence. A lot can be discussed with 3 verses. I love rap! We’ve had rap legends, from Reggie Rockstone, to Obrafour and Okyeame Kwame. Although still not highly mainstream, rap continues to be loved by most music consumers in Ghana. Our biggest acts are mostly rappers. Sarkodie took over the rap scene in 2008, when he dropped that everlasting verse on “Keva.” Thence, a lot of rappers, especially the upcoming ones have mirrored his style. In 2009/2010, almost every rapper sounded like Sarkodie because he was the new rap standard.
With the definition of rap, and listening to Sark’s verses, I’d like to pose in the question, does Sarkodie really rap? Why is he loved so much by Ghana? Is he the best Ghanaian rapper?
One of the reasons why I love rap so much is that there are standards which one can use to determine whether one is a good rapper or not. The elements of rap are lyricism, poetry, concept, substance, punchlines, delivery and rhyming. Just as poetry is deep, rap is supposed to be deep. The beauty of listening to a rap project is having to discover something new every time you listen to it, and deciphering encrypted lines with multiple listens. Sarkodie is not that type of rapper. But the thing is, the average Ghanaian is not that type of listener.
The days that proverbs were much hailed are over. The youth of today don’t even want to race their minds with riddles. They prefer issues presented in the raw form, uncovered. That’s what Sarkodie brings to the table. He talks of relevant issues and current happenings with a touch of humour so well that you would love to hear more. His delivery ability is second to none, actually one of the best I’ve heard in the whole world. His rhyme scheme is of good standard. He’s not a punchline rapper who drops metaphors and a lot of literary devices in his verses. Due to that, some rap heads never enlist him as a topmost emcee, but that’s a negligible percentage of the audience.
No matter one’s age, you can relate to Sarkodie’s rap. He doesn’t disturb you with heavy vocabulary. He’s a representative for rap lovers in the ghetto, streets, ‘dadabee’ girls circles, and even staunch Hip-Hop heads. In the end, he’s a musician. The best music is necessarily relatable. The receiving end has to get an emotional connection to what is said in the song. Sarkodie weaves his verses so well in the Ghanaian setting, making it well picturesque.
Other rappers have tried to connect with the Ghanaian audience, but they never reach the level of Sarkodie, because he touches the heart of Ghanaians, and tells their stories. He publicly speaks their solemn and wild thoughts alike. Your punchlines ‘dey borst brains’ but Sarkodie’s verses are our words spoken by someone who understands us.
Undoubtedly Ghana’s most decorated musician, BET and MTV award winner, and one of the most influential personalities of our time, Sarkodie has hinted several times about his desire to win a Grammy— on “Original” and other songs. Upon being the African rapper with the most awards, Sarkodie believes the highest he can go is to kiss a Grammy trophy. But I always wonder if that’s possible.
I thought Michael Owusu-Addo (real name) had given up on those dreams till quite recently, in a freestyle with Strongman, he made that statement again. Has Sarkodie really taken time to think about the possibility of him walking up that stage to grab the award?
It’s quite sad to face the fact that there are only 7 Africans who have won Grammys since the awards show started in 1959. GRAMMYs happens to be the most enviable and topmost awards scheme in the world presented by The Recording Academy. That’s to say if a musician wins a Grammy he/she is considered to have reached the peak of his/her career. It’s noticeable that the only categories that African performers are able to occupy and win are Best World Music Album and Best Contemporary World Music Album categories. The history-making musicians who have won Grammys as Africans are: Ali Farka Toure (Mali), Lady Smith Black Mambazo (South Africa), Tinariwen (Mali), Youssou N’Dour (Senegal), Wouter Kellerman (South Africa), Soweto Gospel Choir (South Africa), and Angelique Kidjo (Benin).
In 2016, Stonebwoy’s “Livingstone EP” was considered by The Recording Academy but couldn’t make the final nominations cut. Same happened to Blakk Rasta this year. This year, the closest Stonebwoy can get to a Grammy win is if Morgan Heritage wins the Reggae Album of the Year. Rocky Dawuni happens to be the first Ghanaian to be have a full nomination, in 2016, but he lost out. And Killbeatz? His alleged Grammy nomination is debatable.
Considering Sarkodie, a rapper (and once-in-a-while singer) who does the genres Hiplife and Hip-Hop, he stands almost no chance of winning a Grammy. Looking at the list mentioned above, they do mostly traditional and folk music filled with indigenous cultural sounds and rhythm. The closest Sarkodie has been to that is his 3rd studio album, “Mary.” In my review of “Mary”, I made mention that I thought Sarkodie would use the live recorded Highlife/Hiplife album to reach the Grammy heights he has always been talking about. But the body of work didn’t make a huge impact even in Ghana.
Hip-Hop is an untouchable genre as the United States rappers themselves compete very keenly even to gain nominations. I mean, a legendary rapper like Nas, and the current generation’s favourite, J. Cole have no Grammys to their names. So who is Sarkodie to go near that spot? To hit the nail right on its head, Sarkodie’s music does not suit any category in the Grammys as it stands. The only way he can get close to winning a Grammy is if he does pure cultural music which makes an impact in the whole of Africa (which I doubt is going to happen), or if The Recording Academy creates another category that will favour him. Another chance is to get featured on an album nominated (and won) in a category which is awarded to all featured artistes. Till then, Sarkodie’s Grammy dream may forever remain a dream.
In the life of any artiste, one of the riskiest thing one can do is to make a remix of a song that put him/her in the limelight. Kwesi Arthur gathers confidence to feature the highest, Sarkodie and AMG Business’ very own Medikal on “Grind Day (Remix).” With a new verse from Kwesi Arthur, and one of the best verses I’ve heard all year from Sarkodie, we can’t ask for more. Although Medikal’s verse wasn’t the best, I believe we’d still enjoy the remix of our favourite jam, produced by Kayso.. Enjoy!
Kwesi Arthur - Grind Day (Remix) (Ft. Sarkodie & Medikal) 5.89 MB
There are songs which become hits off the internet. “Ekomedeme” happens to be one of them. The song which had massive social appeal caught the attention of Ghana’s most decorated musician, Sarkodie. Hence he laid a verse on the Afropop instrumental for a remix. In fact, before hearing the song I thought Broni was a rapper, just to plug in an earpiece and realize he’s a young man who lays sweet vocals. “Ekomedeme” literally translates to English as “I am hungry.” Broni sings about how people may be going hungry, literally, discussing poverty (a topic which most musicians don’t like to touch). You know how Sarkodie gets emotional with a topic like this, right? He goes in like none other. DJ Kwamzy laid the instrumental whilst Laxio handled post production.
Broni Ft. Sarkodie - Ekomedeme (Remix) (Prod. by DJ Kwamzy) 3.85 MB