It’s been close to two decades since music lovers in Ghana got introduced to hiplife as an alternative high life genre. Back in those days, it was deemed platinum status if an artiste had his LP played for the first time on Radio GAR and the subsequent fame and popularity that go with several rotations on the same station. Back then, it was pretty much Reggie Rockstone whose ‘Agoo’ debuted on national radio in 1995, Nananom, VIP, Obrafuor, TTL, Bukbak, Tic Tac, Mensa, Native Funk Lords (NFL), Ex –Doe, Chicago, T Blaze, Keteke and a host of other ‘soldiers’ who were holding the flag of the genre high.
Studio sessions and albums down the line, the genre still lives on even as some of the above are fast hitting obscurity and very little heard of them. But the game continues to be what it is years after they blazed the trail and a perfect breeding ground for other crop of youngsters to take over the mantle.
So when young Tema-based graphic designer cum hiplife artiste, Michael Owusu, trading as ‘Sarkodie’ decided to chart a career in a genre that is very difficult to break into mainstream unless you are extra talented, he certainly knew what he was about and how one day, that slice of opportunity he asked for, would open wide to the point where, an American dream out of Africa, would look simple and less strenuous…
Maybe it was by dint of hard work, or just talent or luck that got the better side of another young, witty, conscious and very funny young man but if you are one of the many people who made ‘Kasahare’ on Adom FM every Saturday your favourite programme, then you would agree that the road to this apex of a young man’s career, has been nothing short of a fairytale.
The road to success was not built in a day: it required him leaving his residence every Saturday evening for the Community 2 Studios of Adom FM to test his fate or otherwise, on what was fast gaining root as the most patronized late night youth oriented weekend programme hosted by XFM’s Dr. Duncan.
Week in and out, he was pitched against a group of other young prospects and his continuous appearance or exit from the show depended on who won every weekend’s battle. This was no problem for him at all as a perfect combination of artistic ingenuity borne out of fast pace rapping in Twi interlaced with very engaging, funny and thought provoking lyrics was all he needed to knock each contestant down, one after the other.
Instantly he gained what could otherwise be compared to the fame enjoyed by other well known acts as his signature tunes ‘Obidi’ and ‘One time for your mind’ became familiar street lingua. Later a hiplife romance with Dr. Duncan led to the production of several singles which themselves became chart topping songs.
Tunes like ‘Push’, ‘Babe’ and the ever popular but quite controversial song about the 2008 failed candidature of Nana Akufo-Addo among other collaborative efforts with local and international mainstream and underground acts alike, endeared him to a large following including Senegalese-born American singer and co-founder of Konvict Muzik, Akon and for which reason the multi million dollar American record label has officially declared their intention to have him on board as a Konvict Muzik artiste. For a young Ghanaian hustler, this is like asking for little and getting enough…
Barring any last minute glitch, Sarkodie would officially join a list of platinum acts including Lady Gaga, T -Pain, Brick and Lace, Rock City, Red Café, Kardinal Offishall, Qwes Kross, A – Wax, Ray Lavender, Colby O’ Donis, French Montana, American Yard, Akon himself and Ghanaian-born British hip hop act Sway Da Safo to form one big Konvict family spearhead by co -founder Melvin Brown.
Though management of Duncwills Entertainment are tight lipped on the matter, perhaps respecting the contract and its terms, the gesticulation of officials of Konvict Muzik in the past few days easily points to a dream that had been almost ‘Konvicted’ and awaiting sentence.
Public interest in this matter heightened when Sway declared to the over 2000 audience he was performing to at a concert organized in Accra during the yuletide that Sarkodie was now tied to a label he also works for, Konvict. It was further fuelled by specially designed T- Shirts telling observers of a done deal between Sarkodie and the label.
In an interview with the man responsible for shepherding the fastest rapper in town at the moment, XFM’s Dr. Duncan, he was optimistic of a done deal saying it was all tied up with only a few clarifications to be attended to. But in the absence of all that, he told The Mail definitely that “it has happened” and cautiously, “We are already done…It is not a matter of whether it will happen or not, it shall happen.”
So the next time you hear the sound of the clank of a jail cell, followed by Akon uttering ‘Konvict’, the official signature tone of the label, it might just be the latter introducing Ghana’s fastest rapper, Sarkodie on a world stage.
The journey to America has been cut so short for Sarkodie but it took some years of practice and discipline to attain cult status. Today he would thank the guts in him that constantly reminded him of hope and faith in an enigma called hiplife. But he has worked for it, one that saw him struggling and hustling through the scorching sun of Tema just to have a go at a microphone. Like hip hop act Nas, Sarkodie asked for only one microphone but today he has gotten more than he bargained. At least he has paid his dues on his way to achieving a ‘Konvicted’ dream.