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Music of Friday, 27 December 2019

Source: Gabriel Myers Hansen

Rapperholic 2019: 'Unstoppable' Sarkodie fails better

At a Rapperholic concert, every activity that precedes the SarkCess man’s entrée is merely filler — or so it seems. This pretty much goes for performances too.

Therefore, let’s skip the foreplay, shall we?

This year, Sarkodie’s apparition occurred twenty-five minutes into Boxing Day. Glistening like a hip-hop Michael Jackson, the rapper, who has hosted the annual Christmas day gig for seven editions now, emerged to classic Sark Nation glee, and the Jayso and Sway Dasafo–assisted “Lay Away,” one of his earlier hits.

The 2019 installment — like the ones that have preceded it — was designed to be a portrait of his permanence at the lonely top, complete with persuasive intermittent clips that trace his inspiring journey, and celebrate the magnificent ascendance.

This year’s theme is especially apt. Sarkodie has indeed been “unstoppable.” The music practice isn’t child’s play, or there wouldn’t be this few managing the success he has harvested so far.

“It’s not easy to be in this industry for this long,” admitted the man during his vote of thanks; his hypothesis being that though talent and hard work are central in the success equation, there’s a special place for divine favour.

No debate here.

That Sarkodie has kept his place for a decade is a testimonial that he’s unlocked something only a handful of others have. For this, he has built a vast cult that is likely only rivalled by Shatta Wale, or Stonebwoy, the dancehall firebrand who joined him for a surprise performance on the night.

The devoted following beseeches the December 25 event without fail; ready to regale one with Sarkodie history and tidbits, and excuses for even the slightest technical hiccup. (To be fair, the show was largely free of them, save for the nervous, drawn-out pause that threatened the flow of the rapper’s opening set).

Characteristic of Rapperholic is an intoxicating exchange between the “Adonai” man and the section of his disciples before him, revelling in the good fortune of sharing Christmas day with their beloved icon. Equipped with a deep party appetite that has built up over the last fifty-two weeks, they hang on to Sarkodie’s every line with the appropriate gusto — such as attends all addictions worthy of their name.

Aside from its headliner, the concert also delivers a glamorous lineup of the rapper’s friends, especially if they guest on Sarkodie’s most recent releases. On this occasion, the rapper called on Joey B, MEDiKAL, Edem, Kwesi Arthur, Herman Suade, Quamina MP, Kofi Mole, Tulenkey, Kweku Smoke, Coded, La Meme Gang, Sista Afia, Efya, Prince Bright, Nigeria’s Mr Eazi, and Rudeboy.

Also usual is the bane of being unable to enjoy the show from one’s seat, particularly when it has attained cruising altitude. Patrons, left with no other option, resorted to mounting their seats, and remained standing for the remainder of the show. Those unwilling to make this concession, such as the lovely VIP couple in all-white apparel, who picked their belongings and quietly left. Nearby, her wristband of privilege proving insufficient in guaranteeing unrestricted view of the stage, a petite woman in a bright yellow t-shirt, standing on her chair but unable to behold the “promised land”, simply sulked.

And then, there’s the fashionably late commencement attendant to December events in this town. In fact, it’s complementary to the functions’ timbre. Therefore, even at seventy-five per cent full, an hour after the advertised commencement time of seven, Rapperholic patrons had not seen opening acts. Admittedly, organisers have generally heeded to criticism from last year — which pertained to overcrowding and poor ventilation.

At the show, their intention to give a better account of themselves — or look to be doing so — was obvious. For one thing, the decision to move the event from the main hall of the Accra International Conference Centre to the more spacious Grand Arena adjacent has proved valuable in how well it accommodated the numbers and allowed for improved aeration. Some patrons had to make do with standing in aisles as there weren’t enough seats to lodge them. But it was a significant improvement on the previous edition.

Still, the desperate arguments by Sarkodie apologists to rationalise having to climb up on concert seats as though it holds no safety implications at the very least, is both short-sighted and lacking in all logical merit.

Here’s another hypothesis the concert exposes: by attending a single December show, one has, in essence, attended all December concerts. Why? The roster of performers are identical — and so are their performances, down to the order of their songs. Patrons who have witnessed Kelvyn Boy, Camidoh, and the Highly Spiritual pair of Krymi and Mr Drew would corroborate this. The same can be observed about the playlist by the disc jockeys (2019’s go-tos include Davido and Naira Marley choruses, Big Tril’s “Parte After Parte,” and Quamina MP’s “Amanfuo Girls”).

The Sarkodie performance itself was identified by euphoria. The BET honouree enjoys euphoria pretty much everywhere at this stage in his career. At Rapperholic, though, it’s a totally different experience. Here, he leads a congregation of sweaty maniacs floating to loud music of a specific personal excitement akin to alcohol-induced gaiety. He issues hit songs readily?—?across genres too. Whether they were released ten years ago or days ago, Sarkodie’s songs are massively popular, especially with this crowd. “Rich Nigger Shit,” still invokes joyful bounce, the Mary album still lodges soulful resonance, his Mugeez duets still work, as do his Efya–graced love offerings, “Odo,” his collaboration with the late singer, Ebony, still reigns. “Party and Bullshit,” and “Year of Return” have promptly become pivotal to the Afropop jam sessions.

Over his career, Sarkodie has also demonstrated his mettle as a stage titan and certified crowd holder. It all came together for him this morning, down to his “Oofeetso” climax, which saw him invite Buk Bak’s Prince Bright for the big finish.

Unlike last year, post –Rapperholic reviews have spilled with eulogium. The 2019 Rapperholic not only passed without much incident but has broadly met expectations.

Cassper Nyovest’s verdict? “Shit looks lit. Coming down next year!!!”