The title of the album is ‘Highest,’ superlative of high so expectations of fans and non-fans alike are akin to the title of the album. To sieve out the main focus of any album, if the album is titled ‘Highest’ and there is a song on the album with the same title, you have to first listen to that song to have the concept of the album from the track that bears the same title of the album.
Reviewing Sarkodie’s ‘Highest’ album, the first song that this Author listened to in order to solve the conundrum of the album is ‘Highest,’ track nine (9) on the fifth (5th) studio album of Africa’s rap god. In the ‘Highest’ track, Sarkodie paints a picture of how far he has come, the people in his life who are important to him, the argument about the best rapper in Ghana, the bigger picture that he is focusing on and the epileptic state of Ghana music industry which makes any kind of song a hit, using Shatta Wale’s ‘hihi’ (Kakai) as quintessential.
In 2013 an article which trended online labelled Sarkodie as a ‘village champion.’ That tag nearly became the middle name of Sarkodie as social and traditional media subtly agreed with that tag. In the ‘Highest’ song, Sarkodie poked the subscribers of that tag that his rap is celebrated in Shangai, Asia, where the residents hardly understand what he raps about. Knowing how people will react to how he’s praising himself highly, he mentioned that, people will conclude that he is always talking about himself.
Also, Sarkodie posits that he has paved the way and opened the door for other rappers to enter but most rappers are dawdling behind the widely opened door. He quickly talks about how rappers are imitating each other and are not being unique.
In the ‘Highest’ song, it appears that Sarkodie in a clever and indirect way responded to most of the rumours about him including the Manifest beef. He has three (3) rap verses on that song alone so as a thematic song, one could argue that ‘Highest’ is a hip hop album which critically recapitulates Sarkodie’s unassailable achievements in his career.
In ‘Silence,’ Suli Breaks welcomes listeners with a watertight curriculum vitae (CV) of Sarkodie in spoken word including a BET Award in his less than a decade career (since he became famous in the industry). He (Sarkodie) is compared to great names in the world including Usian Bolt and Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
From the rap on ‘Silence,’ Sarkodie confirms the assertion that every great person has prepared enough in what they are celebrated for. He talks about sacrificing time for outing and nightclubbing with staying indoors to write his raps. From a poor background to being featured on Wikipedia, he recalls how far he has come in his career and life in general. No record label signed him so he had to do it with a team that saw the greatness in him from the early stages. He singles out Dr. Duncan (Discoverer of Sarkodie) and expresses his profound gratitude to him. In the next verse, he mentions the pillars of the Sarkodie brand, his dream team; Angel Town, Black Nana, Urban Effect, Sammy Forson and DJ Mensah.
Sarkodie believes that, if he is not the best rapper of any Ghanaian, then that Ghanaian is not enjoying the best of rap, which he confidently says anyone whose best rapper is someone else instead of Sarkodie is on “some bullshit!”
Succinctly, Sarkodie details how his smaller beginnings are not acknowledged but his biggest moments are attributed to the Freemasons and Illuminati. Whilst people are spreading these far-from-the-truth rumours, he is holidaying in Malibu, California with his daughter Titi. Simply put, I don’t give a damn about those rumours.
In ‘Overdose’ featuring Jesse Jags, Sarkodie further talks about how far he has come and he is steadfast that he is the best thing to happen to Ghana rap aside the originator, Reggie Rockstone. He brags that he magnets ladies including top celebrities like Actress Yvonne Okoro and Songstress Becca who adore him for making Ghana proud. He advises his fellow rappers on how to stay relevant. Even though it has been a while he released a continental hit song like ‘Adonai,’ he is still relevant in the music industry because of his impregnable lead. In this song Sarkodie opens himself up for negative headlines from Bloggers and Entertainment Pundits for downplaying Bisa Kdei’s ‘Brother brother.’ That controversial ‘Bisa Kdei’s brother brother’ verse in the song could also make the song popular but as a colleague Artiste, that was below the belt.
In my opinion, these love songs ‘Come to me’ featuring Bobii Lewis and ‘Your waist’ featuring Flavour fit the ‘Mary Album’ better than ‘Highest’ Album. Comparing ‘Mary’ album to other albums of Sarkodie like Sarkology and Rapperholic, he unveiled his romantic and softer side more on the ‘Mary’ album so thematically ‘Come to me’ and ‘Your waist’ would have been great if they had a touch of live band in the studio like the ‘Mary’ album songs. Nonetheless, as a wordsmith, Sarkodie is peerless when he touches the subject of love. Most hard-core Rappers are not stupendous when they rap about love so for Sarkodie to handle the subject of love equally as good as other subjects, he needs a pat on the back.
For media promotions, ‘Your waist’ is a best bet. To me, ‘Your waist’ is Flavour’s version of ‘No Kissing’ (Patoranking featuring Sarkodie). The two songs (No kissing and Your waist) have some resemblance in tempo which is measured in beats per minute (BPM).
Even though ‘Baby Mama’ featuring Joey B is another love song on the ‘Highest’ album, that fits the ‘Highest’ album better than the ‘Mary’ album. ‘Baby Mama’ is a hard-core love song. Sarkodie buttressed this point when he did not mince swearing words when he rapped in ‘Baby Mama.’ Praising Tracy, his baby mama’s sexual prowess in songs is not new to many so for those who have listened to ‘Just in case,’ this is like the part two (2) of that song. I wonder how Tracy feels when his baby dada reports of her sexual escapades in song, anyway! Whether it is coincidental or not, any explicit song of Sarkodie features Joey B and vice versa. Do you remember ‘2 paddies’ and ‘Tonga?’
In my opinion, Chase fits ‘See only you’ better than Jayso. Chase’s singing of the chorus on ‘See only you’ would have been awe-inspiring than Jayso who is a better rapper than a singer in love songs.
For ‘We no dey fear’ featuring Jayso, Sarkodie reveals the twinge of envy in Ghana’s music industry. He details how some industry players do not want others to shine brighter than them. For a typical hip hop song like ‘We no dey fear’ Jayso, one of the best hip hop Artistes in Ghana fits that song better than ‘See only you’ and his rap on that song would have been breathtaking like what the two did in ‘Little monsters.’
Manifest fits ‘Certified,’ another hip hop song on the ‘Highest’ album. It would have been Sarkodie, Manifest and Worlasi on a song. Three musical beasts! Even though Jayso did not disappoint on the song which talks about how far the Artistes on the song are taking Ghana music, the hip hop style of ‘Certified’ fits Manifest’s rap style. Worlasi is a talent Ghana media should help project further. He pepped up Jayso and Sarkodie with an amazing hook which was a nestle for punchlines.
‘Love yourself’ featuring Moelogo and ‘Glory’ featuring Yung L have some correlation. ‘Love yourself’ motivates listeners to believe in themselves and their dreams whereas Sarkodie in ‘Glory’ uses himself as an epitome of someone who believed in himself even when his friends laughed at his highfalutin dreams back in the days when he started rapping. Moelogo sounds like Akwaboah. Anyone could easily think it is Akwaboah on ‘Love yourself.’
One of the songs on the album that is enjoying social media hype is ‘Glory.’ Yung L backed his singing with genuine emotions which make the song tell the story of look-at-me-now! when you doubted my dreams. ‘Glory’ is more of the contemporary version of ‘When I grow up’ on Sarkodie’s ‘Rapperholic’ album. ‘Glory’ is another song that could be good for media promotions.
‘Light it up’ featuring Narstie and Jayso is a typical Jayso kind of music. It is a typical kind of ‘speak-your-mind’ hip hop song with a sketchy theme.
The interludes on the album are exceptional. It wets the appetite of the listener to want to listen to the next song but I wonder why the interludes were added as track lists to make the songs on the album 19.
To mark the ‘Highest’ album, I would grade it 8/10. ‘Glory,’ ‘Silence,’ ‘Baby mama,’ ‘Your waist,’ ‘Certified’ and ‘Far away’ are my favourites on the album. This album is a notch highest than Sarkology and Rapperholic but so far, ‘Mary’ album remains Sarkodie’s masterpiece.
Author: Nana Kwesi Coomson (www.233times.com) @nkcoomson on Twitter