This article was published on Loud Sound Ghana (https://loudsoundgh.com/2016/03/flowking-stone-vs-sarkodie-fire-bon-demremix-killed/)
One of the greatest collaborations of our time, a collaboration the public has been thirsting to hear is finally here. Sarkodie and FlowKing Stone have finally done it. Two of the country’s best rappers deliver their best on one song. And it’s only right that as a Rap/Hip-Hop analyst I take us through the song, element after element.
It’s good for people to compare the 2 verses, because it’s a rap song. Rap is a sport, and in the end we should crown one a king. There are numerous elements of rap, and in this article I digest the song.
1. Concept/Subject Matter
Concept refers to the idea behind the song. The subject matter is the topic of discussion in the song. A classic example is “Inflation” by Sarkodie in which he discusses the negativities of Ghana (thus the subject matter). On this track, it can be derived simply from the title, “Fire Bon Dem”, which means they’re still progressing despite the opposing forces pulling them back. No matter how they diverged, both rappers sticked to the concept.
2. Rhyme Schemes
Sarkodie began his verse with terminal rhymes, and just before the last few bars he chipped in some in-rhymes which are characteristically filler rhymes also. He applied a couple of perfect rhymes— ‘quality-charity’, ‘collection-perfection’, and a few others. Then he involved an impressive slant rhyme ie. ‘niggarwhat-day’. But he spat another which was weak, thus the ‘promises-politics’ rhyme. His flaw was repeating ‘ma mo’ as a terminal rhyme in 3 consecutive lines.
Stone commenced his verse with quite an impressive slant rhyme ie. ‘do-stew’. After 3-4 bars, he started laying in-rhymes, thus
‘bang like gangs… tap dem thangs’
‘African kings… dem bling’
‘Hwɛ m’abrem no wɔ game no mu, ne mfie mpempem, nso me gyina mu’
just to mention a few.
He actually oblique-rhymed throughout the remaining of the verse.
Internal rhymes are subtle ingredients in the recipe of rap. Hence Stone is some steps ahead here.
This refers to the flow of words and phrases in a verse, as determined by the relation of long and short syllables.
Sarkodie had an upper hand in this. He was rapid, aggressive and relaxed at the same time. He dragged some words he had to, and shouted out some when there was the need. He made the whole verse look so easy as an unwritten speech… like something he had to say.
Stone was hyper-aggressive and extra-tensioned. His rhythm was nice, but this is a song, the listener has to get a feel of the artiste speaking to him/her. Stone sounded like he was with a sheet chanting the words to a crowd.
I’d give rhythm to Sarkodie, although the difference is not that huge.
This consists of structure, style, flow, swag and other techniques. Sarkodie entered with a normal style and switched the flow 5 times. With each of them the style was unique and suited the beat so well, it’d get every listener more attentive, wanting to hear more. The styles can get a rap music lover repeating his verse over and over. He actually adapted FlowKing’s usual style, proving his talent is boundless.
Stone is well known for his delivery, and that earned him the title, flow king. He also switched the styles a similar number of times as Sark did. Stone is known for the styles he applied, thus in relation to flow he was in his comfort zone. Although the machine gun flow is dope, he could’ve ‘flossed’ more on it. While listening, I could predict his next style/flow. He didn’t explore more and refused to cast his net deeper.
For delivery, Sark led the race with a few steps. His swag even comes as a plus to him.
5. Lyricism/Lyrical Prowess
When it comes to rap, lyricism refers to expression of the concept of a song in words. Sorry to say but a rap song like this isn’t for feeble minds. Sometimes, there are some lyrics used that only Hip-Hop heads can decipher.
Sarkodie isn’t at his best when lyricism is discussed. However, for this verse he put critics to shame. He first addressed rumours about him and Stone, sent his appeal to Kumasi people, then switched to his usual braggadocio-influenced lines. He came to the main topic and spoke to his doubters and haters, about how he’s progressing no matter their energy. Then he gave a shutout to some Kumasi music stalwarts.
Now that’s well structured if you ask me. Rap listeners will get amused with such a verse. The “Adonai” hitmaker is very smart, and it’s evident in his verses. Coming head-to-head with a top-tier influential person in Kumasi, he had to win their appeal and he did that perfectly.
His major flaw is an irrelevant bar which he said “Rap agye m’anum, me hia ‘gerrm’ |
Na sɛ neɛ me kaae na mo nte aseɛ a chingam na m’abrɔfolise na m’aka no ‘gerrm’ ”.
People can rule out this point as bollocks, but frankly, for a rap collabo as this you wouldn’t want to use a whole bar for an imperfect humour.
Stone climbed the stage with no deviation from the subject matter, enriched the collabo with a couple of lines about how he and the featured people roll. Then he exited with a wave to Tema (Sark’s community) and Tamale people, covering the North and South+coastal regions, hence the whole of Ghana.
He did well to stick to the subject matter, even though he included some filler lines
eg. “…heavy punchline | Pono be my guy | We dey rise”, “I bi coming up again | Money ain’t a thing | We dey reign | Forgette the fame…”.
Considering the concept, Stone was on point throughout. He knew his song and focused well on the message he wanted to put out. Stone’s lyrical prowess was at its peak. His statements require one to put his/her thinking caps on.
For lyricism, FlowKing was a significant meters ahead.
6. Literary Techniques
Sarkodie as good as he is lacks a lot when it comes to this. His similes don’t impress and his punchlines don’t usually land. The first simile he spat was “Sɛ nka Hip-Hop yɛ alatafoɔ awadeɛ a nka daa wo si badwa mu a nka sika no meto bi ma mo”. This right here is a normal line, and wouldn’t get a Hip-Hop enthusiast wowed.
“Mehyɛ kasahare no sɛ pantalon” is a weak simile. Rap has evolved, and for a highly rated emcee like Sark, this isn’t great.
This part is where Stone reached the finish line before Sark could even see it. His first bar was a nice wordplay— “…I’m still on the rise/rice like stew”. He used the homophones perfectly, linking the statement of his elevation to how stew is usually dressed on rice in typical Ghanaian homes. Thus stew is often served on rice, whiles he’s on the rise as well.
“Only one stone(Stone) kille birds(best) two”. Bazooka!! Easy triple entendre which may go over your head fam.
a. He applies the popular saying “Using one stone to kill 2 birds”.
b. He’s on the remix with 2 of the best musicians and he kills/bodies both.
c. In the subsequent line he says “Cos I dey hit as solo and a group”. Meaning he(Stone) represents himself as an artiste and as a duo ie. Bradez at the same time. Hence he’s the stone which kills 2 birds.
Standing Ovation mayne! Hats off!!
He also spat a proverbial line “Sɛ na ɛyɛ no sɛ ɔde me bɛhyɛ fɔm ama m’aprɔ nso na onnim sɛ me yɛ aduaba o (m’ayɛ dua!)”. Meaning opposition tried to bring him down [literally] which means ‘sow’[figuratively], not knowing he’s a seed which will grow into a tree, in other sense, he develops to become unstoppable.
“Them dey hate on a man cos ɔmo ahu sɛ me sika sɛm kɔ soro, asɛ deɛ me bank yɛ plane”, which means his money is on a rise (or increases) like a plane. Thus, a plane in flight is on a rise.
“No matter the weather we reign” is another dope wordplay.
Generally, “Fire Bon Dem(Remix)” is a good rap song, actually the best to come out so far in 2016. So, now we’ve digested the song, you can make a better choice as to who killed who. Let us know what you think. Leave your comments below…