NetbuzzAfrica.com gives an imaginary trophy to songs on Sarkodie’s fifth album.
Although every bloke charm fails to mask Sarkodie’s calculating rap, Highest is bracingly honest but conservative confessional collection. Hopping from pant-flinging Afrobeat to an Afro-pop and hip-hop minute, the multiple award-winning rapper Sarkodie has created a suspiciously slick album that aspires to appeal across all boards.No matter how big the artist, when an album is released, it is simply another album here in Ghana, and rarely a cultural event that would keep people up in the night, waiting to analyse every lyric. With all the weight of the world on his shoulders in an era where no major rapper plans to release an album in such a vacuum in 2017, Sarkodie breaks a barrier, giving his case a special kind of attention. This is due not only to the rapper’s enormous profile but also because he had to prove he’s indeed the highest rapper of our time in Africa.
Does a baby daddy and father deserve to have his private life laid bare so explicitly? It could be argued he brought it on himself – not just with his actions but with his hubris. After all, this is the MCee whose last several – largely hailed – singles, have been laced with tiresome references to his dream life, to having “the more money that can buy him anything he raps about”. If you’re using up bars telling us everything is rosy, don’t be surprised when your album decides to tell us everything isn’t.
The 19-song album (including one bonus tracks) may be the most diverse of Sarkodie’s discography, with the Ghanaian rapper-songwriter trying out new sounds and getting vulnerable in his lyrics. While each track does have its own vibe, the nuances are what make Highest a collection that fans will have on repeat for months (if not years) to come.
To honor Sarkodie’s valiant effort on his latest album, NetbuzzAfrica.com decided to recognize the uniqueness of each track with praise. Check out our superlative awards for Highest below.
1. Best self-appraisal song: “Silence”
If “Borga-Borga” didn’t get you convinced that Sarkodie is the master of making fans of both genders swoon, “Silence” is bound to do the job. With all the bluster exhibited in the hook, spoken workd artist Suli Breaks did great introducing Sarkodie in the ‘Highest’ form.
With a break in conversation to appraisal, Sarkodie’s welcome in ‘Silence’ did share his famous inspirational story giving further acknowledgement to his ‘Dream Team’ made up of the management and team members behind the ‘sarkcess’ (pronounced success) story. A work in silence, Suli Breaks reveals every victory on Sarkodie’s path.
2. Best questionnaire sound: “Overdose” Ft. Jesse Jags
Apart from Reggie Rockstone have you heard any other rapper other than Sarkodie? Is Obrafour listening? Anyway, just as you expected, Sarkodie wouldn’t leave any stone unturned for the first official track which is also the second on the Highest album. With a catchy-questionnaire hook, Nigerian Jesse Jags asks all the relevant questions in the form of a melody, living little of his presence on the Nova produced record. If you think this song is the only missile shot at competitors, embrace yourself for the rest of Sarkodie’s jactitation below.
3. Most passionate love strains: “COME TO ME” Ft. Bobii Lewis
Sarkodie has a way of packing his songs with even more gusto through his new singing style dubbed with a touch of rap. It always results in that cacophonic power notes. I don’t even think there was enough rap on “Come To Me” but with Sark, his talks are more or less like raps. Those moments of passion were sprinkled throughout the entire track giving their suitors a bit if not everything, but, a quick a reminder of how far the journey has been. Certainly most apparent in the chorus vocals of “Come To Me,” was where you can practically see UK’s finest act Bobii Lewis with veins popping in his neck to get the best sound out.
4. Most beautiful melody: “INTERLUDE- HIGHEST (PART 1)”
A continuation of an appraisal left in disguise or what seems like a set to a fiddle-based rhythm similar to that of a King attending a major event. The “Interlude -Highest (Part 1)” had English spoken word artist Suli Breaks addressing the story of a night.
5. Catchiest Title: “WE NO DEY FEAR” Ft. Jayso
“Bossy” remake or another story told through the song? Sarkodie and Jayso recount the lost love story in the Ghanaian music industry. There’s hate everywhere but these two hip-hop heads paint a clear picture of what the current situation in Ghana could be. While it could be one of the album’s sweetest tunes lyrically, Sarkodie and Jayso decided to take this tune personal, with the rap flair reflecting their egos and heritage.
6. Most heartbreaking track: “CERTIFIED” Ft. Jayso & Worlasi
“Certified,” the song I thought would feature M.anifest but hey, the Highest album is just for the ‘highest’! This is Sarkodie trying to cement his name once again and he introduces Jayso and budding act Worlasi on this record. Perhaps one of the heartbreaking songs on the album, once fans listen to the lyrics of “Certified,” they quickly realize that it’s actually Sarkodie’s story of how serious he takes his music not just as a hobby but as a full-time profession. With a melodic emphasis from Worlasi, Jayso takes his turn taking us back to rap.
7. Biggest homage to feminism: “LOVE YOURSELF” Ft. Moelogo
Most of the 19 tracks on Highest involve new and varied sounds with a touch for feminism, but fans of older Sarkodie tunes may flash back to the slower tracks from Baby ft Mugeez and Odo Menkoaa Ft Kwabena Kwabena. Encouraging women to be trendsetters, Sarkodie decided to give budding Afrobeats act from South London Moelogo the chance to toast the record with an admirable level of confidence. Upon listening to the sweet sound of “Love Yourself,” you’d understand Sarkodie love for women with insecurity. Maybe, it was an indirect message to his baby mama Tracy. Who knows?
8. Most radio-friendly jab: “INTERLUDE- HIGHEST (PART 2)”
Even if this hadn’t already been one of the two spoken word singles Suli Breaks would need to make his statement on Highest, “Interlude – Part 2” would still easily be pinpointed as the radio-friendly spoken word single that would become one of Sarkodie’s biggest jabs. Suli Breaks announces to envious critics who have high hopes of rubbishing the progress of Sarkodie that it won’t work this time, especially when Sarkodie has graduated from just a rapper to the G.O.A.T of Gh music.
9. Craziest lyric: “HIGHEST”
This is it. Considering Sarkodie with all the instances of a boastful talk in Highest, the album title-track! Sarkodie takes a major swipe at his competitors (if there’s any) with the craziest lyric giving them a K.O! Did you feel Jayso on this? Dope production out there!
10. Biggest step toward rap: “LIGHT IT UP” Ft. Big Narstie & Jayso
“We-gonna-turn-it-up…” Jayso is heard introducing Light It Up. As previously mentioned, Sarkodie and Jayso together on a record have always been something extraordinary. No matter how often you hear them on songs, it’s always a different vibe altogether and this record just confirmed it. With the inclusion of Big Narstie, the British grime artist, the content of rap was simple and direct. No unnecessary gimmicks but laying emphasis on how messy the streets have been, you get the chance to enjoy an irresistible drum beat-laced melody that simply puts a smile on your face after listening. Expanded his horizons a little more on Highest, simple yet with different sounds and beats that may have been deemed out of his comfort zone in past records.
11. Most visual storytelling: “FAR AWAY” Ft. Korede Bello
Highest is full of Sarkodie’s personal stories, indicated from the first media listening session of the album in Accra. While the specific subject of “Far Away” isn’t entirely obvious but featuring Marvin Records Signee Korede Bello, it becomes clear that, the commercial song sends a message to their lovers and anyone who has ever felt down on themselves can relate to. Even if some of the lyrics feel like a bit of a gut punch, Sarkodie and K. Bello makes the point that, they would stick to their partners no matter what even if they don’t realize it.
12. Best track for a sing-along: “YOUR WAIST” ft. Flavour
Even if you don’t hail from Africa, Ghana or Nigeria, like Sarkodie and Flavour, this musical narrative about women and how beautiful they were created to fill the spots in the universe will get you singing along. From what we hear in “Your Waist” we can confirm that Sarkodie and Flavour’s second return on a Masterkraft record cements their stances that the two are just gentle when it comes to “women’ related music. The music video accompanied even makes this statement true. Curves and more curves all over the Afrobeat sound.
13. Most apologetic conclusion: “INTERLUDE- HIGHEST (PART 3)”
This guy, Suli Breaks, somewhat took this personal you know. But it’s all for the Highest revelation. This album is worth listening to. When a song starts with lines that asks for forgiveness of a sort it better follow suit with a danceable beat but it’s just spoken word in its elements so you can tap your feet and nod in response.
14. Best Closet track: “BABY MAMA” Ft. Joey B
This song is just a jam! And since Sarkodie had originally intended on having “Baby Mama” on Highest, it’s not super surprising that he whipped up another tune with Joey B’s catchy backing. On this track, Sarkodie takes us on a tour, telling us stories from his closet while exposing his ‘naughty’ baby mama Tracy. And thanks to Joey B’s hook, there’s a little bit of innocence here.
15. Best love song: “ALL I WANT IS YOU” Ft. Praiz
One of the best love songs Sarkodie added to the release of Highest. Here, fans were made aware that Sark would rap his “emotions” — but it wasn’t evident until the entire song was revealed in the Nigerian vocalist’s hook. Praiz did justice singing Sarkodie’s feelings out with pensive lyrics involved with drops of lines. Very effortless and confident. “You made me a believer—Girl, I want is You’. A Gaffaci and CedSolo collaborated production effort.
16. Most beautiful melody: “ALL NIGHT” Ft. Victoria Kimani
Apart from his Ghanaian ‘girlfriend,’ songstress Efya, American-born Kenyan singer Victoria Kimani is one the few ladies who get to be a little intimate with Sarkodie musically. “All Night” melodically comes off as one of the sweeter tunes on Highest. Once you listen to the lyrics, though, you realize that there’s a pretty emotional meaning to it: Sarkodie and Victoria are talking about a discreet night with imagination of what the possible outcome would be and that added an entirely new aspect of beauty to the song.
17. Best Duo on a song: “See Only You” Ft. Jayso
Thinking of a more intimate Jayso and Sarkodie verses on the Highest, “See Only You” is that one track talking about binding yourself to a course of action. Quiet a melodious track but instead of singing a sad song about a lost lover, they’re celebrating feelings of allegiance – Loyalty to a partner.
18. Most personal lyrics: “GLORY” Ft. Yung L
To fully understand where this song is heading to, let’s take a throwback at Sarkodie’s “Mile 7 Saga” a freestyle record released some years back. On “Mile 7 Saga” Sarkodie was heard talking about his pain, all the pain and stress he goes through daily on earth just to make it in life. Reminiscing the past, he emerges with “Glory,” a song that owns up to just about everything that made him the Highest today. There’s no doubt this song is actually one of my favourites. This song combines elements from songs “Adonai,” featuring Castro “Chingam” featuring Bisa Kdei and “Life” which featured Obrafour. Yung L from Nigeria did his best to communicate Sarkodie’s iconic situation as an inspirational hook to back the raps. In this tune, a literal masterpiece giving hopes to individuals to keep working hard towards the crown.
19. Best Afrobeat song: “Pain Killer” Ft. Runtown
A bonus track to compliment the Highest album. Sarkodie did justice by adding “Pain Killer” featuring Mad Over You hitmaker Runtown to the tracks. While “Pain Killer” has already been one of the songs for airwaves, it also has amazing visuals that fans couldn’t have enough of when it was released.
All too soon we have awarded all the tracks on the Highest album. With a fair distribution of Hip-Hop, R&B as well as Afrobeats, the album places itself as one of the self-superlative creation from Sarkodie.
Rapper and producer Jayso will always have a major role to play in Sarkodie’s career. Producing a major section of the songs on the album, he was joined by other top producers like Masterkraft, CedSolo & Gaffaci, Posigee, Nova, T Spize and Guilty Beatz who all brought their A-game to make the album stable for commercial purposes. the Highest album also featured Big Narstie, Korede Bello, Flavour, Joey B, Praiz, Victoria Kimani, Yung L, Runtown, Suli Breaks, Jesse Jags, Bobii Lewis, Worlasi and Moelogo. On this note, I’ll score this album 70%. I hope you enjoyed reading! Download the album here.