The Culture Joint

10 times Sarkodie reminded us he’s in charge

Sarkodie

Over a decade and a half in the game. 7 studio albums. Time without number, Tema’s de facto leader of rap music has given us enough reason to clear our faces of raised brows of doubt. The detractors jump at any chance to point to Sarkodie’s missteps, but the math will always be in his favour: there’s enough heavyweight material that outdoes, heavily, any perceived duds.

There are so many gems to sift through, the very idea of sitting down to definitively rank his material is daunting, even for a superfan. There’s hardly a Sarkodie verse that is subpar; even the ‘bad songs’ have some hard-hitting bars that make critics go ‘Well, he’s Sarkodie’. Then there are the iconic radio freestyles from prior to the fame, remixes, and features.

If it were left to me, this list would certainly be in the fifties, and each one that finds a place on here will be an undeniable grade A. I settled on 10 however, and I’m certain the comments on this one are going to be filled with inquiries into other clear classics that did not make the list. But what I have here is undeniable, with zero pandering to widespread public opinion. Just the best of the best, hands down, after weeks of whittling. Your favourite probably doesn’t have one verse that’ll make it on here.

10. Vintage Flow

This is one of Sarkodie’s funniest verses.“This is for the culture, What we tryna do is kill the vulture, Time wei yɛde separaty boys from the men, taking away the akpteshie out of the Johnnie Walkers”

Vintage Flow, off the Alpha EP, is atypical of the rapper – a laid-back delivery on smooth jazz instrumentals, deftly announcing his persistence on the throne, marking an iconic example that no beat is safe with the King. Honestly, I am sentimental about this record, and I want you to pick up your phone and stream it right after reading this piece.

9. Bossy ft Jayso

On Bossy, Sarkodie once again reunites with an OG, Jayso. The two always had a certain magic together, and it’s unforgivable that they haven’t collaborated more than they already have. What a show-off they both are, anyway. They give you what to expect right from the jump; I mean, isn’t the song title enough to let you know Sark is not here to play?

Bossy is a dazzling display of technical proficiency in which he immerses himself in a grandiose delivery for majority of the song, and completely bodies it.

8. My Advice

This was a standstill moment in the entertainment space – Obidi’s advice to a friend-turned-foe. It was simply stunning confirmation that, when he wants to, the Landlord can still jump in the booth and onto the hottest beat at the moment [Joey B’s Stables] and like the father figure that he is, deliver the hardest-hitting punchlines – even to the whomever considers themselves bigger than him.

7. New Guy ft Ace Hood

Haven’t we learned anything from his numerous sermons? That not a single rapper can out-rap him? I mean he’s walked the talk, having collaborated with a substantial number of rappers, both local and international. And we’re still yet to reach a consensus on which one of these talented artistes has had the better of him.

The song spans a full four minutes, with both emcees not backing down once, trading in a fast exchange of tact and lyrics, with Sarkodie flexing his iconic flow throughout the length of the song.

6. Rollies and Cigars

Sarkodie has been focused on his money since his come up. You know how you just want to kick back, bask in your successes and share some friendly advice with young ones after going through some of the toughest experiences of your life? That’s it. He’s perfected the craft of rapping about his hurdles and his victories, which has become his style since he forged one of the most recognizable brands in Ghanaian music history.

For people like myself, who have at one point or the other, brooded over our future and the possibility of turning things around – much like Sarkodie himself when he joined Hammer’s Last Two – the concept behind Rollies and Cigars serves as a huge motivation to keep chasing that one dream; to never stop. His story resonates deeply with the ordinary fan that it almost gives a good sense of reassurance. At least we can hold on to the thought that he was like us at a point in time, and it earned him the success and status that he has.

The video was controversial on release – with many criticising his portrayal of cigars, considering his far-reaching influence. But I say focus on the message.

5. Khaligraph Jones ft Sarkodie, Wavy

Wavy marks the first-ever collaboration between heavyweight Kenyan rapper, Khaligraph Jones and Sarkodie, and neither one of them came to play. Obidi, in particular, knew what was at stake. Deny it as much as we may, this was a test for both emcees – and both knew to not underestimate the prowess of the other.

“Sɛ wo compare me to Ghanafuor no aa ɛshi me rough, cos wo de me si hor aa, nobody be real enough” Sark spits. This bar is in response to the constant comparison to domestic counterparts, and further fortifies the fact that he’s still got the juice.

4. Homicide ft La Même Gang

Sarkodie leaves no bar wasted on Nova’s beat. He’s very much in every rapper’s face, daring them to take the bait on this one. He spits raw fire on this joint, the essence of each line carefully carried by sinister adlibs offered by the excellence of his featured crew.

He is threatening on Homicide, as consistent with his style. His paternalistic attitude towards other rappers in the industry isn’t so hard to justify, as he does a great job at proving why he’s considered by many as primus inter pares in Ghana’s music space.

3. BET Cypher, Best International Flow

Self-love? Check. History? Check. Global Economics? Check. The most hyped hip-hop cypher from 2019 checked all the boxes we would expect from a primo Sarkodie verse on an international stage. He went into his bag, set up shop in there for like two minutes, and what came out of that water was a work of art. He seemed angry and he seemed hungry, when – when I think back to – makes me wonder if your claims of a better African rapper are true, because there was one on there too.

Sark had plenty of memorable lines on this, but the “What the hell is way sexy than African booty with stretch marks on it?” line is just perfect because we all know it’s true. The fact that this guy is still this good is scary.

2. Rush Hour

“Rap mu El Chapo” and we cannot argue or protest the idea. The beat to Rush Hour is carefully made in a way that does not eclipse the rapper’s lyrics, and Sark saunters into the ring with the assuredness of someone who already knows he’s the victor.

There’s none better than him, he’ll reiterate this a reasonable number of times to ensure nobody dares cross his path the next time.

“Sɛ me droppy punch pɛ me commity mass crime,

kill niggas that shit is part of my part time,

Spending my last dime on rollie but that’s fine

Cos half a milli anytime I’m dropping a hard line

What the fuck is there for me to prove

I’m not lying

You niggas can take over the game when I stop trying

1. CEO Flow ft E40

This incredible single featuring one of the rap game’s most admired and inimitable emcees is critically acclaimed as one of – if not the – best verses from the Landlord. It is difficult to imagine him succumbing to the weight of his guest feature because we’re well aware Sark relishes the idea of competition. And loves to remind everyone within his voice’s reach he’s still Kasahare’s best graduating student to date; nothing’s changed. He sounds engaged in a way he rarely has since rebranding his style to reflect overt domination – his lyrics here have a propulsive drive, responding to his haters attempting to undermine his authority with his own commanding suggestion that he’s only still in the game to keep everyone “on your toes”.

Written By: Kingsley Elikem Doe

The Culture Joint