In the early hours of December 26, 2018, I received a call from one of my colleagues inside the auditorium at the Accra International Conference Centre. He seemed under distress.
I could not make it to Rapperholic but I had several reporters giving minute by minute update as we covered the event like we do for all major events.
Sarkodie had not met the standard Sarkodie is known for. Minutes before the call from my colleague, I had already published a review based on what had happened at the event and the general concerns around safety from the people we spoke to.
The review was not about Sarkodie’s ability to sing or rap. It was not about his energy during his shows. It was about how the audience was treated. It was about safety.
“Have we done anything to Sarkodie,” my colleague asked as I answered the call. The management of Sarkodie was not happy about the article titled: ‘Sarkodie’s Rapperholic was a clone of what Shatta Wale shows are criticised for’.
They had threatened to throw Pulse Ghana’s reporters out because of the story. It was a night of drama. In the end, we tried to make them understand that just as we were there for their show, we were also there for the people who made it to the show and their safety. Criticisms were part of the game with equal importance as praises.
A year on in December 2019, Sarkodie and his team gave Ghanaians one of the best Rapperholics in terms of production and safety of the audience. Again, another review went up with the title: Sarkodie proves taking ‘Advice’ from a critique whose ‘Huh’ is not worth 10K is sometimes worth it.
The Highest proved to be a musician who listens and that was evident no matter how hard he and his management tried not to show with a ‘hard core’ demeanour on display. Maybe it was just PR.
Listening to the voices around has made Sarkodie one of the most adored rappers on the African continent, a position he emphatically emphasised while dotting the i’s of inking his name in the books of Ghana’s greatest musicians ever during his virtual Black Love Concert.
Black Love Concert - The Review
A drone flies to show the beautiful lighting of Accra around Independence Square. With prior knowledge of the venue for the Black Love Concert, that was normal.
A led light screen shows blinking some inscriptions. On it was Sarkodie and Black Love.
Sarkodie’s voice is heard but no one sees him.
Then a surprise hits the audience all around the globe. How dare he? But then again, this is Sarkodie - the man who stood by his craft of mostly Twi rap and got recognised at the BET.
He stands by the big black star on top of the Independence Square as he effortlessly goes on with his flow.
“In the beginning na mane wo meanu we stuck on a slave ship,” Sarkodie sings the lines of his song with M.anifest, Brown Paper Bag. A great show starts as the world faced a pandemic.
Sarkodie proves why he dared to dream and achieved his dreams.
Ghana’s Got Talent
In the weeks leading to Sunday, August 26, Sarkodie tactically announced all the artists who were going to be present at his virtual concert.
Despite the little misunderstanding between his manager and Ghanaian dancehall musician Stonebwoy a few days to the event, nothing could be taken away from the representation of the finest musicians Ghana has on the stage at the concert.
Joey B was the first to join the host on the stage as they performed their song titled ‘Legend’ together. It was evident who was the true boss and who had the true sauce but not enough evidence of the scrumptious musical package Sarkodie had in store.
Yaw Sarpong’s introduction to performing Ahobrase3, his song with Sarkodie threw light on another underrated attribute of the host on the night - his versatility.
King Promise, Sista Afia and Kidi who were all featured on the Black Love album had their moments to shine and did not disappoint. Having thrown his musical seeds all across Ghana, Sarkodie’s Black Love album, for work it had previously done reaped its fruits as Kidi performed one of the best songs in Ghana at the moment - ‘Say Cheese’. That is how Sarkodie strategically aligns himself with the vision he claims and supposedly has.
Akwaboah, a good ally of Sarkodie displayed his vocal prowess with one of his latest songs ‘Posti Me’ before throwing it back with Sarkodie for a song on the Mary album, ‘Mewu’.
The concert was supposed to have 3 of the biggest 4 S’s in Ghana music until Stonebwoy had to drop out after his issues with Angel.
However, the most entertaining S of them all made it to the stage. Shatta Wale’s appearance on the Black Love Concert stage was a relevant milestone in his relationship with Sarkodie considering recent events.
On significance to Ghana music, that was up there with the best. Shatta Wale and Beyonce’s music which is still making waves across the globe put Ghana on the map. As Sarkdodie did what he could to strengthen that position of Ghana on the map, support from his colleague could not have resonated the sound of greatness from West Africa any louder.
Efya and Sarkodie have always been magical together and it was no different as they paved the way for a legendary Ghanaian musician to show fans what music was like before the likes of Sarkodie. Amakye Dede was a beast on the night.
Adonai has been around for years but its effect in 2020 is still the same as ever. Being a song that gave Sarkodie one of his biggest hits on YouTube coupled with the story around his collaborator Castro, performing Adonai at the Black Love Concert ignited the feels amidst the excitement.
If there was truly something Castro would be proud of wherever he is, it was that every song on the night was done with a live band. Simply breathtaking.
A Stand-Alone King
Before Sarkodie paved the way to showcase the host of collaborations he had on his Black Love album, he put on a display of what a performer he was. Standing alone, his energy and flow was nothing short of what King Sark is known for - a confirmation of why he had been in the game for so long and still had ways to entertain his fans.
Singing hit after hit, The Highest showed off his flow, rich music library with a touch of wardrobe swagger.
His anthem for every show he has ever played ‘Original’ sounded as though the people were right by his side as the energy went off the roof - or screens as appropriate for a virtual concert.
There’s been a host of virtual concerts in Ghana since COVID-19 sent us all back to our homes. The usual expectation was for people to log on to their YouTube, Instagram or Facebook page and enjoy. Sarkodie took a different approach and the outcome proved it was an approach that had worked to perfection bar one technical glitch.
A few hours to the start of the event, fans started complaining about an error trying to log in to CEEK, a platform Sarkodie partnered with to stream his show. The traffic was too much and the servers could not handle the load.
Aside from that, nothing could stop Sarkodie and CEEK from putting on what could be termed a perfect show.
Black Love Concert would have been a 10/10 in terms of production but the server error from the main CEEK stream.
Without enough information, one would assume that servers giving issues for a live stream concert is a disgrace to its organisers. Sarkodie and CEEK’s situation was far from this.
CEEK had done this with a host of international artists and had a benchmark. Unfortunately, Sarkodie simply destroyed that benchmark.
In what would take a long deliberation to admit, CEEK posted on their Twitter handle:
“#SarkNation shut the web down. Due to overwhelming traffic, we are having some technical issues. Please standby we are working to resolve this. 1.5 million at once with more coming.”
1.5 million-plus were willing to watch Sarkodie’s concert. If he thought 2019’s Rapperholic was overwhelming, this was proof that he had brighter days ahead even with the world dealing with a pandemic. Brighter days just like his music.
The History Books Will Remember
Sarkodie is mostly criticised and lauded at equal measure for classism. However, this has been a strategy that works for him through his years rising from underground.
He’s proven not to limit himself to what his immediate environment offers him. He’s proven to be consistent. And amidst all the challenges, he’s proven to accomplish what he sets his mind to do.
Winning a BET award does not come cheap. Representing as he has on the international stage does not come cheap and so is the creativity that oozes from every project Sarkodie puts out.
Standing by that black star on top of the Independence Square was not for no reason. It was a strategically thought-through approach to show Ghanaians his pedigree and it worked. This act will forever be remembered as most of his music would. An iconic moment. A legendary status confirmed.
In music lyric terms, Black Love Concert was the physical representation of how Sarkodie ended the show with Prince Bright.
“Them say we no go fe do wey we do them shock oo.”
This is the Sarkodie Ghanaians signed up for.