One of the problems of the Ghanaian entertainment industry is the lack of documentation. It’s either we lack history about something, or we have several accounts of distorted narrations of events and happenings.
It is therefore unfortunate that one of Ghana’s biggest rap icons is trying to change history!
Just a few months after suggesting on a Nigerian radio station that he did not receive enough support from Ghanaians, he’s made another statement that needs to be addressed.
Sarkodie has said in a new interview with British DJ Semtex on ‘Hip hop Raised Me’ that traditional radio in Ghana was not ready to air his songs when he started music.
The ‘Fugazy’ rapper said the advent of social media and the internet, in general, gave his craft some validation and acceptance. To put it bluntly – he said he came through social media.
The background to Sarkidie’s interview with DJ Semtex
The British DJ was making reference to a chat he had with a legendary UK rapper on how digital media has spawned a lot of rappers in the United Kingdom, and sought Sarkodie’s opinion on how he penetrated the market with his rap. He asked Sarkodie if he (as an African rapper) could relate to that assertion.
Read what Sarkodie said, verbatim
“Yes, yes, I can relate to that because I came through social media.
“Mainstream radio in Ghana wasn’t ready to play any of my records because it didn’t make sense. We were just rapping on some beat they didn’t term as commercial.”
“And at that time when I was coming was dominated by highlife. Highlife was like our authentic Ghanaian sound. And it is super commercial here in Ghana, when you do it, people are gonna love it.”
“And I was a rapper, so I was coming in hard doing hip hop beat. But like you said because I happened to get directly to the people so that the masses can choose what they wanna listen to. You can’t say people don’t want this until you give it to them.”
“And as you said, because it was controlled the people were used to listening to what was presented to them, and then the internet came in. And then people like myself and all these new artistes started putting out music, and now people have alternatives.”
"Mainstream radio wasn't ready to play my records" Sarkodie
African Rap legend @Sarkodie breaks down how he cut through & built his own fanbase.
Exclusively on the #HipHopRaisedMe podcast ⬇️
— DJ Semtex (@DJSemtex) October 9, 2021
Defence by his apostles
Since the interview got out and Sarkodie started receiving scathing remarks, his fans have put up some wobbly defence for him.
According to them, Sarkodie may be talking about the early days of his career, when he recorded songs that no radio station was interested in playing.
The palpable lie that he came through social media
I don’t intend to be euphemistic about this. Sarkodie lied throughout the interview. He must check how he keeps denting his brand with lies in his bid to look good on the international scene.
Of course, we may not know all the struggles he went through before he broke out into mainstream music, but we know the major ones. We know what shot him into the limelight – it was not social media.
During the same time that Sarkodie was on Adom FM’s ‘Kasahare Level’ with Dr. Duncan, some of us were also struggling to find ourselves in the music industry. We lived the struggle too, so we know it was not easy for any up and coming musician to make it. Most of the guys who did not give up made it. That is why I admire Sarkodie and the successes he has chalked.
He persevered, triumphed over the challenges to achieve his dream.
Between 2005 and 2008, Sarkodie was a household name on Adom FM’s ‘Kasahare Level’. He won all the battles he engaged in on the programme.
That programme was so big that even some DJs from other radio stations recorded his rap performances and played on their shows. Adom FM’s ‘Kasahare Level’ was what introduced Sarkodie to the world – not social media.
At that time, social media was not even huge like it is now. Mainstream radio was the main avenue for music promotion. None of the guys blew through social media at that time. It is the new generation of musicians that is really breaking out through social media. He should have mentioned Yaw Tog, Black Sherif and co. He did not come through social media.
For the benefit of the doubt, maybe Sarkodie should tell us which of his songs blew him through social media. Was it social media that made the songs on his first album ‘Maakye’ which was released in 2009 popular?
Our brother went on an international platform to lie. We must simply let him know he lied.
He lied that highlife music was big at the time he started rap music
Between this period that Sarkodie started rap music and was pursuing his dreams, highlife was not the big deal. Hiplife was the dominant genre of music – and the root of hiplife was rap. Lord Kenya, Okomfour Kwaadee, Kontihene, Obrafour, Tinny, Tic Tac, Barima Sidney, Samini and others had already made hiplife the staple genre for music lovers.
Hiplife had gained ground so much that most of the highlife artistes had to feature rappers or ragga artistes on their songs to meet the new taste.
Reggie Rockstone, Akyeame, Azigiza Jnr, Native Funk Lords, Nananom, Tic Tac, Nana King, VIP, and the pioneers of hiplife should be the ones to talk about how difficult it was for them to get people to like their style of music (rap). Because they came at a time when highlife music was the dominant genre of music in Ghana.
In 2005 when Sarkodie started, the rap-grounds had been fully prepared for him. People had come to love rap music.
Mind you, even though Sarkodie entered the game with a unique style, he was not the first person to have ever done hardcore rap. Reggie Rockstone, Blitz, Quata, and other artistes also did the same.
Sarkodie’s breakthrough as a hardcore rapper was his smart move to feature singers who provided him with catchy hooks and melodious choruses.
My advice to Sarkodie
Sarkodie is a fine artiste. He is one of the most successful (if not the most successful) artistes in Ghana. Maintaining one’s relevance for over a decade in the music industry is no joke.
That is why he needs not dent his brand with lies and misinformation.
If what he said on DJ Semtex’s show was not meant to keep him in the news, he needs to retract.
He may not have communicated his thoughts well, or may have genuinely slipped.
We will definitely not let this blatant lie go unaddressed.
By: Kwame Dadzie | Ghana Weekend
Editor’s Note: The author is an entertainment journalist at Citi FM and Citi TV.