This article was published on AmeyawDebrah.com, LoudSoundGH.com, AfricaWorldMusic.com, Ghana-Insider.com, GentlemenRadio.com, MediaHomeGhana, EnterGhana.com, BigTimesGH.com, Ghana Community Online, other online platforms, and the 2016 Edition of Akwaaba Magazine
Artist: Sarkodie || Album: Mary || Label: Duncwills Ent./Sarkcess Music
Photo Credit: @sarkodie
|Mary Album Artwork|
With some few years to make up a decade, musician extraordinaire, Sarkodie has never failed to appear on our television sets and be on our radio. The musical legend has been continually dropping hits after hits, building himself as the greatest musical brand, influencing the youth heavily and opening the door to the hall of fame. The rapper’s attention has been on the youth for a while now, with a few oldies having an eye on him, although almost every inhabitant knows him. After dropping 3 solid albums, Sarkodie decides to dedicate an album to his late grandmother Mary Lokko who kicked the bucket in 2012. He does it in a grandstyle, fusing genres that’ll encompass almost every typical Ghanaian’s favourite, thus Hip-Life and High-Life. In various interviews, the “Illuminati” hitmaker has emphasized how his grandmother advised him to do live music, when she was alive. Known by real name Michael Owusu, he heeds granny’s advice and provides Ghana with refreshing food for the soul, Mary Album.
The theme that runs throughout the entire album is love, being it agape, phileo or storge forms of love. However, a couple of songs such as “Edwom Te Sen” and “Nobody’s Business” touch on different topics. Inasmuch as love as a subject matter suits live recorded music, Sarkodie could’ve tackled a lot more issues as a concerned citizen with such great power and influence, and that’s what makes “Edwom Te Sen” a favourite of mine. How easily the 2012 BET African Act award winner discusses the issue of gossip amongst people excellently. With the saturation of love songs in the music scene, it has become unappetizing to enjoy more if it.
Every time I listen to the album, there’s a tendency to keep on reminding myself it’s not a joint album with Akwaboah. Virtuosic Ghanaian singer, Gladstorm Akwaboah has been confirmed to have written 90% of the album. Honestly, I expected more from Sarkodie as a rapper. Rappers prefer to write their own verses, write their own songs, they possess good concept choosing abilities and creativity with skill. What happened to all the above mentioned? Did Sarkodie see live music as a heavy weight on his shoulder?
People like me love Sarkodie for his creativity and wittiness, and that is almost lost on this album, as he played a little role in the artistic creation of the project. Having a close listen, he couldn’t forgo cheap rhymes— “Afei na madamu, nti na me te mpa mu”(Giant Steps)… “Safety first, ɔdɔ no yɛwɔ mu difference”(Mewu)
There are quite a number of quotables— “Yɛse mmarima suban basaa it depends”(Bra)…
“Wo ne ɔbaa te na biribi nkɔ yie a checke cable”(Giant Steps)… “ɛnkanee no na me ho pere, amango bunu a ɛwɔ sɛ me twɛn ma ne bere”(End Up Falling)
Akwaboah, knowing this is a great opportunity gave out his best, composing classic music for the grown with a mindstate that Sarkodie’s rap fusions will grab the attention of the fans and youth.
Frankly, after hearing Sarkodie’s silky chorus on Strongman’s “Tonight”, I was put in a frenzy, and couldn’t envisage the outcome of the album. However, he sang on just “Mary (track 10)”, which is also the only song he wrote himself. But how did the man of struggle make Akwaboah write his ‘Sarkcess Story’? He didn’t even co-write! This builds up my point that Obidi didn’t have enough clues about the record his grandma told him to put out. I’m disappointed by the fact that Sark talked about love throughout the whole album and couldn’t reserve a song for his grandma, despite how much he claims to love her. Not even on the track named after her.
Half of the songs are low tempo, with the other half being mid-tempo and fast. Bottom-line is, every song suits the tempo it comes with.
Akwaboah carefully selects words and sentences pleasing to mature minds, as Sark who is not strictly tagged with that keeps it real and delivers his normal rap verses. He tried to keep it clean though, in order to live up to the task, but ends up spitting a few explicit statements/lines – “M’ani bɔ wo so a na me gyimi abɛtɛ”(Mary)… “Me ankasa me nyaa no fo, me tuu ne tonga no a…” (Giant Steps), “M’ame ntu w’ase tesɛ galamsey”(Nobody’s Business)… “ɔbaa wo ho nti mekɔ gye for-girls”(Nobody’s Business).
Once Sark announced the making of a live album, it hit me that the desire of the rapper becoming a grammy award winner may come into reality. Hence, I was partially disappointed when the tracklist got released and had no non-Ghanaian African Afro-Pop musician on it. Although Efya is arguably the best female vocalist in Ghana, in my humble opinion he could’ve featured another songstress, possibly another Malaika of the voice, which wouldn’t have been hard to find considering the status of yours truly. The languages used on the project are chiefly twi and English, with a little blend of other Ghanaian languages. That’s an inkling that Sark wants to spread the wings of his music across the borders of Ghana, but still be loved by the local people mostly, and earn more respect with his originality. Chase, Pat Thomas, Mugeez , Obrafour, sensational Efya, Akwaboah and the infamous Quecy Pinto sang their hearts out, enriching the album. Backing vocalists such as She and Efe filled all the loop-holes.
One element that made the album rich is the live instruments, majorly handled by the nation’s finest drummer, Francis Osei, professional guitarists Enoch Owuraku of PL crew, Dominic Quarshie and Odikro and synths handled by Akwaboah. The cohesion and chemistry exhibited by these musicians is a concrete indication that they had a lot of practice to make the album a reality. Anyway, few of the instrumentals came with frequently used progression, however that’s common with pop music. This is the point where I request a standing ovation for the brain that made the album pleasurable to listen, Kaywa. It takes brilliance and experience to executively produce a contemporary live album. Exhibiting his professionalism, Kaywa made the musical piece ready for every device you’d use to ‘soak’ it.
“Mary” succeeds in the intention of being an Afro-pop High-Life/Hip-Life album, but leaves the ears of the adventurous somewhat dissatisfied. Congratulations to Yours Truly on a good piece produced. Definitely, Sarkodie has raised the standard again! As I always say mediocrity is being slaughtered!
|Sarkodie With Family, Musician(s) & Management|
Album Rating: 8/10
Buy Mary Album on iTunes HERE