Digesting Sarkodie’s Black Love album; an Afrobeats offering

Official cover art for the Black Love album

The 6th studio album by Africa’s most decorated rapper has finally been outdoored. The rap icon has decided to climax his impressive run in 2019 with this project which has been presented as an Afrobeats project. The album comes as a compilation of 15 records with 16 featured artistes, and it focuses on one of the mostly utilized Afrobeats themes – Love. Extensively, the project also seeks to promote unity among Africans.

Official tracklist for the Black Love album

The subject of love is addressed from several perspectives on this project. The album is replete with numerous expressions of unbridled excitement and amorous cravings by a lovebird drenched in a pool of love. These expressions can be noticed on Hello (ft KiDi), Take My Love (ft Tekno), Feelings (ft Maleek Berry), Honey ft (Kuami Eugene) and Womba which features Shakka & promising chap, Herman Suede.

The amorous cravings hit a crescendo on Anadwo where Sarkodie and King Promise breed a romantic climate suitable for escapades and other intimate discourses during the night. Undoubtedly, an attached person is likely to experience a feeling of luck for being privileged to be offered these romantic treats in his relationship. Therefore on Lucky, Sarkodie with the assistance of Rudeboy, formerly of the now defunct P Square group, express their delight for being the lucky ones to be chosen as the better halves of their partners.

 

Do You?  features decorated Nigerian singer, Mr. Eazi. The release of this record was accompanied by a host of controversies – mainly due to a claim by a section of music patrons that the song lacks originality. They claim the song is an Afrocentric rendition of American artiste, Ne-Yo’s Do You. Indeed, a comparison of both records reveals quite a significant similarity in terms of content and melody. Further, a veteran Nigerian artiste named Zaaki Azzay also claimed the introductory lines Mr. Eazi delivered on the song emanated from him. The lines which became a subject of controversy were delivered as follows; “Na me go marry am, I suppose to marry am”. Do You is nevertheless a soothing record which was admirably produced by celebrated producer, GuiltyBeatz.

 

Sarkodie and Efya once again exhibited their musical chemistry via the hit record labelled Saara. Efya has been a regular guest on Sarkodie’s projects. In addition to the Black Love album, she has also made previous appearances as a guest artiste on Mary, Sarkology and Rapperholic. Ardent followers of Ghana’s music scene will attest to the unblemished musical chemistry that exists between the multiple winner of the VGMA Best Rapper category and the multiple winner of the VGMA Best Female Vocalist category. On Saara, the duo advance a relationship habit that is clothed with some unpopularity. They encouraged an unfettered and absolute offer of loyalty to one’s relationship partner regardless of a toxic character the partner may exhibit in return. An interesting observation about this song is that Sarkodie’s delivery was entirely vocal without any rap verses. He probably wanted to refute one of the perennial criticisms that have been leveled against him by critics over the years- the critics have been questioning his ability to make vocal submissions.

 

The Black Love album is also occupied with a party song conceived in a western character. Dubbed Party and Bullsh*t, the song features Donae’O and Hollywood star, Idris Elba. They both made worth listening contributions on the song. However, I subscribe to the take that the low intensity of bass elements in this song’s instrumentation deprived the song of some flavour. I think the record needed more bass intensity to neutralize the baritone-deficient nature of Donae’O’s vocals.  

The project is garnished with Can’t Let You Go – a song released over a year ago. This song was apparently recorded to mark Sarkodie’s marriage ceremony with his longtime girlfriend, Tracy Awurama Addo. Released in August 2018, the song, which features talented vocalist King Promise became a nationwide hit and its official video has currently garnered over 10 million views on YouTube.

 

Sarkodie once again demonstrated his positive orientation towards women on this project. Previously, he encouraged women to eschew insecurity when he featured Moelogo on Love Yourself, off the Highest album. Recently, he also adviced women to abandon all forms of skin bleaching when he delivered a freestyle at the 2019 BET Hiphop Awards. On Strength of a Woman which features Stonebwoy, Sarkodie furnishes listeners with his concept of an ideal woman – economically emancipated with an allergy towards reliance on men for affluence. Upon assuming jurisdiction over the beat assembled by JMJ, the two former students of Methodist Day Senior High School, Tema (MEDASS), encourage ladies to aspire to be the ideal woman elucidated above.

The concept of love could not have been discussed holistically without highlighting the unpleasant and seemingly unbearable turbulent experiences that may emerge in relationships. This perspective was captured on Obi Doba (ft Bisa Kdei) and Broken Heart which features spirited Ghanaian songstress, Sista Afia. The late Highlife legend, Paapa Yankson and Paulina Oduro’s popular evergreen duet, Tena Menkyen was adroitly sampled on Broken Heart.

Which One ft Kizz Daniel reflects on mood swings – a reality that creates a leeway for uncertainties and mistrust to emerge in relationships. On this record, Sarkodie and Kizz Daniel yearn for attitudinal consistency by their partners.

Production

Generally, the productions on the Black Love album were executed without any maladroit inputs. The producers engaged to work on this album were expected to deliver as they did, considering their repertoire. The producers/sound engineers who bear production credits on this project are KJ Spio, GuiltyBeatz, DJ Breezy, Blaqjerzee, Posigee, Killbeatz and JMJ. The others are Tekno, Kaywa, BeatzFreaks, Zapp Mallet, Mark Okraku-Mantey, Donae’O and finally, MOG who produced 8 out of the 15 songs on the album.

MOG Beatz has worked assiduously over the years to become arguably the most sought-after Ghanaian music producer in the last 36 months. Since he rose to fame after producing Sarkodie’s 2016 hit record, RNS, MOG now enviably boasts of the production of a substantial percentage of Ghanaian hit songs that have been released in the aforementioned period. These works include the production of over 50% of the records on Shatta Wale’s 2nd studio album, Reign – released in 2018.

Sarkodie’s competence in accelerating the ascension of producers to the mainstream territory of the music industry is certainly beyond rebuttal. His impact on the progress of producers including King of Accra, Magnom and Fortune Dane offer corroboration to this assertion. MOG Beatz happens to be the latest beneficiary of the multiple award winning rapper’s Midas touch in this regard.

General Views

Black Love is a typical Afrobeats album. Afrobeats is an umbrella term for contemporary pop music made in West Africa and the diaspora that initially developed in Nigeria, Ghana, & the UK in the 2000s and 2010s. Genres such as hiplife, jùjú music, highlife and naija beats, among others, are often lumped under the ‘Afrobeats’ umbrella. London-based DJ Abrantee was credited by The Guardian for coining the name “Afrobeats”.

It is highly relevant to distinguish between Afrobeats and Afrobeat.  According to Stewart, Alexander (2013), Afrobeat is a genre that developed in the 1960s and 1970s, taking influences from Fuji music and Highlife, mixed with American Jazz and Funk. The name was coined by Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. Unlike Afrobeat which is a clearly defined genre, Afrobeats is more of an overarching term for contemporary West African pop music. The term was created in order to package these various sounds into a more easily accessible label, which were unfamiliar to the UK listeners where the term was first coined.

Afrobeats has been gaining global grounds steadily – significantly since a decade ago. Developments like 2Face’s (now known as 2Baba) African Queen featuring in the movie Fat Girls, D’banj’s remix of Mr. Endowed featuring Snoop Dogg, the Azonto wave and moments like Davido’s Fall, Afro B’s ‘Joanna (Drogba) and Big Tril’s Parte after Parte getting bigger, also Wizkid being on Drake’s album Views as well as recently, the Beyoncé [The Lion King: The Gift] album have all been indicative of the growth of Afrobeats.

Sarkodie has been a relentless apostle of the agenda to actualize the penetration of Afrobeats music beyond the African borders. Black Love seeks to further intensify his resolve towards the pursuit of this agenda.

In his acceptance speech at the 2019 BET Hiphop Awards, Sarkodie remarked as follows; “I think Africa has always had it and it’s about that time.”  Black Love was produced and curated to bear compatibility with the steadily rising penetration of the Afrobeats wave across the globe.

Patronize the album here:

 

By Seth Mireku

mirekuseth16@gmail.com

 

 

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