Worlasi is a victim of his own greatness, much like notable talents across a variety of industries – Kevin de Bruyne has never won PL Player of the Month, Jay Z has arguably never been the single best rapper of any particular year. What they have in common, however, is consistency at the zenith of performance.
Listening to Worlasi rap – or sing – is like finding yourself seated at a polemical sermon on systemic hardship within your immediate environment. Except, you form an integral part of the said immediate environment, and so at one moment, you’re criticising the powers that be, and in the next, you find yourself engaged in quiet introspection—the messianic role.
Few artistes within Ghana’s music space will stake much on their ability to persuade an audience with their perspectives towards the world, particularly when that perspective is so absolutist. And that is perhaps why those who do, do so at the risk of other essential industry incentives like commercial success.
Worlasi dares take on this role however, bringing relief to a space where players have historically been more inclined to dissect the outside world than to analyze how these traumatic, life-altering events have impacted their personalities. They rhyme about financial challenges and profiling that riddled their career beginnings, overcoming those obstacles through grit, tenacity, and mental fortitude. M.anifest does it on Someway Bi, Black Sherif raps about it throughout his debut album TVINW, and Sarkodie, well…in most of his records. Rap is poetry, after all—naturally expressive and deeply emotional at its core.
The album’s title The.Rap.Y is a double entendre – Worlasi aims for the head, showcasing his dexterity within the rap division with assertive glee, and forcing the listener to reconsider, at least once throughout the length of the album, their list of top five Ghanaian rappers. At the same time, the album is the musician’s own therapy session, where he examines the entire phenomenon of creative blocks and their detriment to honing talents.
The calling card for this project is that it defies the widespread opinion that conceptual music is often badly composed, especially within the Ghanaian music industry; the 7-track EP is riveting from start to finish – from the jazz rap-influenced afrobeat Perfection, through to the humorous podcast session that forms the concluding song, Ablah’s System, where guests unpack pivotal moments in their lives that have impacted who they turned out to be.
On Perfection, the album’s theme – and title – rings true: the song dissects the perfectionist tendencies of creative minds, using the taijitu [or yin and yang] analogy to create a paradox of choice between enhancing his capabilities and relenting due to overly critical self-evaluation and concerns for others’ evaluations of himself. “I am still here, whether you like am or not, I make sure everything you create be dope before ecomot, your lines rhymes flows goes with any wild beat, those who never knew now knows who Worla be” he raps, the second verse witnessing him deliver a sterner critique of himself for his inability to control his creative cycle,“Fuck you perfection, Sekof of you I no finish any of my albums, I never asked for you, So fuck your views and fuck your stardom I’m tired of second-guessing…”.
This thematic structure occurs throughout the album – a constant juxtaposition of social and personal constructs, like morality and religion, governance, competition et cetera against the will to create, and to grow as an artiste of his calibre. In this album’s world, these constructs are not abstract concepts: they are the fraying tethers that hold him back from attaining the creative freedom that he relentlessly seeks. On Jealousy for example, he raps “You see the thing is, I’m jealous that I’m rapping in English and Ewe, And you rapping in Twi so they can’t even see, How dope my shit is” exposing the dichotomy between envy for the achievements of his industry colleagues, and his personal aspirations for success using social norms as a yardstick.
The weight of his content might make The.Rap.Y sound like a bit of a drag. But the miracle of this album is how it ties these realities into the narrative, beautifully carried along by a slick orchestration of afrobeat, jazz and hip-hop blends. It takes great valour to create something about creative blocks, you know. Especially one that addresses causal factors like perfectionism, jealousy and subservience to authority.
If you’re looking for a sign as a creative, to face your fears head-on and address the variety of emotional, mental, physical or external barriers that affect your creativity, this might be it.
Written By: Kingsley Elikem Doe