Sarkodie shoved off a pre-event ‘crisis’ to deliver yet, his best performance in several months.
On a night that mattered most to the thrice-nominated BET Awards artiste, he gave a compelling reason of just how good he was, and how perfecting a normal trade routine has become unproblematic with time.
Ghana came to party on Saturday, and she had a heavy dose of that – made possible by a strong artistry presence that delivered itself – to the thousands who came to the Accra International Conference Centre for the 5th edition of the Ghana Meets Naija concert.
Organizers, Empire Entertainment, can pat themselves on the back for a job well executed. The 5th Ghana Meets Naija rocked. The bar has been raised so high they may have to come up with something miles better than this next year.
Artiste after the other, Africa’s biggest musicians gave the thousands who came to watch another reason to believe in their trade.
Ghana kicked off Saturday’s biggest party with back to back performances from some of its mainstream acts who played undercard. Keche, Nero X, Gallaxy, MzVee, Ruff & Smooth and Double gave off something almost nice, much to the admiration of a crowd who didn’t show signs of not wanting to see them once more in action. They took turns on a stage that was to see far bigger acts come up minutes later. Aware of the behind-the-veil attraction of making a case for headline status next year, they gave it their all.
With the constant theme of who beats who running through all the performances, Ruff & Smooth would later treat the crowd to a night’s booty-shaking contest between Ghana and Nigeria. The two backup dancers detailed to do this did it in such riveting manner it was as though their derrières were on steroids. Ghana won, the crowd agreed.
Shatta Wale kicked off what the crowd had been waiting for all night. Yes the earlier acts rocked but concertgoers would tell you there is nothing as refreshing as seeing an advertised act come up on stage to perform.
The cheers were loud enough for the man many love and hate in equal measure. Wale’s entry is typical of what his brand has come to be known for. From the crowds he emerged with an army of flag-waving ‘generals’. The energy around his entourage was as though they had just come out of a high-ranking caliphate general assembly. Onto the stage they took positions – again – in typical Shatta Walean style. No human, born of man could have permeated what was a huge on-stage groove. All this had to be done somehow since the ‘king’ must perform without drawbacks.
And when he eventually took off, it was as grand and equally blissful as ever. Wale lives off a career that is hugely worshipped by faithfuls whose allegiance is not in doubt. It wasn’t different on Sunday morning. They screamed, and danced to every song of his. If you’ve been following the Shatta Wale story you would know that one of the major requirements of being a true fan is to be able to sing along to his songs. The crowd did just that. The emotional connection came good as you would have across two birthday treats in the Caribbean.
Song after the other, he put up a performance that ensures he still maintained a place in Ghana’s top leagues of hugely followed acts. Sunday night gave him another reason to believe he is God of them all.
Wale chose the very controversial Talk Talk song to exit in style. Obviously buoyed by the successful handling of the call-back-responses and appeal he enjoyed all night, Wale would do something not so strange. One by one, he takes off his clothes leaving only his singlet and boxers; dashes off quickly to the far right corner of the stage just to shout out loud the popular profane hook in Talk Talk. The crowd loved it. Absolutely. He walked off stage just like that.
DJ Mensah, Sarkodie’s event DJ becomes the visible human on stage after the lights were dimmed to usher in the next performance. At this point, it had become clear to the Sark Nation disciples their lord was on his way. The expectation was high. “He has to deliver at all cost, a fan said.”
You couldn’t blame the ‘true fans’ of Sarkodie as he calls them, for wanting to see him on stage. Hours ago he had become a subject of an intense online debate which sought to ask whether he did or did not pay the American artiste, Ace Hood, to feature on an upcoming single New Guy. The pre-event commentary was straightforward, and sometimes not charitable. But he kept his cool. In symptomatic Sark style he quickly brushed off any crowd opposition with an entry that was solid and sweet. Michael Owusu Addo has a way with his stage entries, and on Sunday, he did just that.
From his debut ‘Makye’ to the most recent ‘Sarkology’ albums, he delivered an above par performance that had too many legendary units to it.
Not crocked, and also (not) the kind that drowns you in punitively, he maintained a stage presence that couldn’t be either bothered whether it was mired in a sleet of egotism. Who cared?
The almost one hour performance was real and direct. It was an artiste’s way of saying I have seen all the commentary about me being a liar but they didn’t matter. It was a young man’s way of saying ‘this isn’t my kind of meltdown; and that I represent the most adorable, locally accepted and internationally known Ghanaian rap brand, take it or leave it.’ It was a rapper’s way of saying ‘if braggadocio meant nothing to you it sure gets me going, and I couldn’t – again – be haunted, and if the response to that was I didn’t know what I was doing I would say there is none, absolutely none like me.’ Call it indistinct goading in pretty dumpy streams, Sarkodie epitomizes what many young rap souls this side of the world stand for.
Throughout his performance there was no visible sign of wanting to quickly unwrap the well-rehearsed stagecraft. It was tidily undone one after the other – the way, which sinks in real deep. So gentle yet aggressive it was Bulldog, Shatta Wale’s manager who constantly asked DJ Mensah when the pair’s joint popular singles ‘Dancehall Commando’ and ‘Me Gye Wo Girl’, where going to be performed. When he was finally given the green light, he dashed off up stage to prepare Wale for the kill.
When the first song went up, it was evident we were in for another long but exciting round of performance within a major one. Beyond what was a good act, the two exhibited the kind of on-off stage rapport they share lately. The warm embrace, the hugs and the goofing around on stage was just a perfect addition to the energy shown all night.
He wasn’t done. Pretending to have a difficulty in choosing which songs to do, he would later ask the crowd to sing along a collection of his popular songs. That wasn’t going to be an issue. At all.
Jupitar, one of the many mainstream acts who has gained from the Sarkodie featuring benevolence comes on stage for the heavily-rotated ‘Enemies’. They nailed it. The hugs and paying of homage to a king whose subjects have come to say thank you, continued. It was a Sarkcessful empire built all night and that had very little time for patchiness.
Sarkodie’s final minutes were calculated. All morning, he had not done ‘Currency’ – the hugely accepted single with Stonebwoy. Stonebwoy would later take position on stage to help with its execution. The cheer was a picture-perfect ending to a session that would go on to be one of the most memorable at this year’s event.
Stonebwoy struggled for the most part of his performance it wasn’t too clear what was doing him in. Not playing with his favourite band, he opted for a performance CD that poorly aided what could have been a better effort. Exhibiting poor judgment and coordination with his DJ for the night, the signs were all too clear he was going to have a bad day at the office. He did halfway. Plus the added pain of being on stage with a hypeman who looked confused for the most part was way too much a burden for a young man full of talent.
For the first time in many shows patrons saw the BHIM Nation lead-head unnecessarily caught off key. That was a big deal – especially when the road leading up to this was fuelled by arguments of just how better he’s become with time. At a point, it appeared he was drowning – trying too hard to get back on track.
A lifeline was quickly needed. And to true to that prediction, Sarkodie walks back on stage when the former went for ‘Baafira’ – his award-winning 2014 single.
Motivated by his senior’s presence, he wakes up from a slumber that could have caused him a number of shows. The delivery from that point onwards was the Stonebwoy most people knew.
Ghana had exhausted its wild cards and the only opposing force left were the Mavins. In turns, all six with Don Jazzy saved for last, made a case for why they are yet the most talked about music group in Africa now.
Reekado Banks, Korede Bello, and the Sierra Leonean Nigerian-born Hadiza Blell (Di’ Ja) stepped up to be counted. They were epic but not as Sarkodie and Shatta Wale. Their attempt to do some ‘unknown’ songs went down well as their much known singles – ‘Godwin’ – in the case of Bello – also got a lot of cheers.
D Prince, the group’s other half and an old boy of the Jazzy-Mohits-Mavins triangle, made the most of his time on stage. He was excellent, dishing out the many jams he’s become popular for in recent times.
He was followed by another old Jazzy triangular cat DR SID. Obviously the third most popular Mavins artiste in Ghana after Jazzy and Tiwa Savage who couldn’t make it due to health reasons, SID was simply awesome.
He would later be done the singular honour of opening for his boss. Their joint single ‘Surulere’ kicked off Jazzy’s turn.
Cutting a boss-of-them-all-yet-humble look on stage, Jazzy digs into a number of personal, and featured songs including Collabo, the recent hit with P Square.
Jazzy impressed, and for the remaining part of the night refused to be beaten to it by his ‘kids’. He would get a confirmation of that with a Bola-Ray-money-showering scene that got him excited. He is Nigerian and for many his kind that was a decent reward for hard work, and for ‘old men’ who refuse to age.
Calls for the entire Mavins crew to do their two most popular songs ‘Dorrobucci’ and ‘Adaobi’ were growing. Jazzy walks off stage and brings the other five SID, Prince, Bello, Banks, Di’ Ja to come attend to the business of the day – the main reason thousands of ticket holders defied a heavy downpour in Accra on Saturday evening. For the many, it was mission accomplished.
Saturday’s Ghana Meets Naija is the wish of every event organizer. From security to ushering, every fine detail was attended to. For an event that sold out days before Saturday, it makes sense it rocked the way it did.