Sarkodie does not shy away from controversy as lyrics in most of his songs suggest. He is known to call people out as well as make reference to people and situations without a care. But even he would know that his new song has taken him a bit far in that style.
He released a single last week on which he lampooned the media, called them names (most of them derogatory), dared them to leave their comfort zones and try their hands at international progammes and stations as well as admonishing them to support their own artistes.
This has not gone down well with many people in the media, especially the music and entertainment side of the media. Some have called on him to apologise to the media for putting all of them together and insulting them and yet, others have encouraged their peers to boycott him.
Before I go into any further discussion of the matter, let me say a few things about Sarkodie and his craft and how he has done well for himself over the period that his talent has taken him from the streets of Tema to where he is now.
Sakordie is no doubt at the top of the log of most of the artistes in Ghana today. Indeed, that was confirmed when he found himself on the list of Forbes most bankable artistes in Africa. Not only that, he has been nominated twice at the BET Awards which he won one and missed the recent one.
The rapper from Tema also recently beat a few of his continental competitors to pick up the award for his type of music at the revamped MAMAs. Not to talk about several other local awards including a few at the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards.
Like most people who eventually make it to the top echelons of their craft, Sarkodie started very small. He did what people of his age group and local setting with an ambition to succeed in the music arena would do. One of those was to look at which platforms would help to push and enhance their craft.
One of the key platforms on which Sarkodie would find acceptance, encouragement and support was on Adom FM’s Saturday evening rap show called Kasa Hare Level hosted by Doctor Duncan. He competed almost every week with other rappers of his ilk.
Let’s just say he used the platform better than most of the other wannabe rappers who appeared on the show and also with the help of the host (who eventually became his manager) the young rapper got himself into popular music and eventually national and international recognition.
Since hitting the limelight, Sarkodie has known no return as he keeps releasing hits after hits after hits and performing at almost every show in the country and going to perform at other international shows both on the continent and beyond.
His own music talent aside, Sarkodie’s brand has been strong enough for him to latch on it to launch a clothing line known as SARK and by all intents and purposes, that, brand seems to have done well for him both in awareness, recognition and hopefully the bottom-line.
However, in spite of all these successes that he has chalked over the years or rather, in view of the successes it seems obvious from his lyrics that Sarkodie always has a grudge or two to pick with perceived enemies or people out to get him.
He went out of his way to write a whole song with every single bar in there directed at people who thought and claimed that he was a member of the much talked about secret society of famous people – the Illuminati! Let it be on record that I said at the time and still stand by it that it was a very unnecessary song, that!
There have been occasions on his songs that Sarkodie had boldly mentioned the name of a brand that had made an offer to him that he had refused because they did not acknowledge his talent early enough and were now turning to him when he had become successful.
Other times on his songs and specific reference could be made to the current popular one he did with Castro called Adonai, on which he mentioned categorically that as others were thinking about him, he was having a meeting with Tigo. Well, people have meeting with brands all the time, no?
But all of these do not matter now, what matters it that Sarkodie has taken his craft beyond his perceived detractors to the corridors of the media in the most unpleasant manner you can imagine. He used foul and insulting language too.
Among those who have come out to condemn Sarkodie is Kumasi-based broadcaster, Lovin’ Cee, who says he must apologise. He said, “I’m so disappointed in my boy Sark, a brand ambassador, for the use of those vulgar lyrics in his song,” adding that “he needs to render an unqualified apology to the media and soon.”
Lovin’ Cee’s issue, which is the issue of most other people who have commented on this matter, is that he put them all together and flayed them. “He must learn to direct his attacks at those who allegedly go against him instead of venting his spleen on the entire Ghanaian media.”
I have also seen a statement by a group calling itself Ghana Online Arts Writers Association (GOAWA) which had decided to boycott Sarkodie indefinitely, which means not reporting on issues related to him. Honestly, I write online but I had never heard of this group until last Tuesday.
I disagree with both positions of making Sarkodie apologise or boycott him. I have said somewhere since this happened that, we live in a country that, thankfully, allows free speech and thus Sarkodie is within his rights to express himself in a manner he deems fit, so long as he doesn’t libel or sedition others in the process.
However, the media are within their rights too if they want to take him on in any manner they deem fit. He has his voice and his music, they have their pen and computer. He cannot insult everybody and expect that he would not be insulted back. He cannot just insinuate and declare others as useless and not expect to be told same.
That is not to say that the media is above criticism; far from that. They are a human institution and make mistakes all the time, but then you criticise and not insult. You have to direct your criticism and not put all together to slam them.
He says for example that, the media did not pay to cover him when he performed at the BET but wrote that he performed to cleaners. That’s absolute nonsense. Who should go through the wahala of obtaining a visa to the USA and paying their way JUST to go and report on Sarkodie? There is something called a publicist!
I intentionally mentioned Adom FM and Kasa Hare and the role they played in his career. Sarkodie and the other artistes he claimed he was speaking for cannot claim they got where they are without the help of the media in one way or the other. They are talented, no doubt about that, but they needed to be supported.
Who plays their music? Is it not the media? Who shows their videos? Is it not the media? When they are about to have a show, who reports and hypes them? Is it not the media? So the media should only praise and not criticise? There is no way in hell you can eat your cake and have it, Sarkodie. You will be praised when you deserve to be praised and you will be criticised when the need arises.
The media has been a part of your success and so I leave you with Okonkwo’s quote from Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart “Those whose palm-kernels were cracked for them by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble.”