Many are called, many are chosen. Only a few take a distance. You’ve seen how far we’ve come.
– Fortune Dane
Sarkodie’s Trumpet is a notable nine minutes long. He does no rap himself. Instead, he lines up six of our most proven new-age sonneteers, rousing them with a bold hook, and then unleashing them as hungry canines. In the words of poet Robert Frost, “that has made all the difference”.
True, we are a people who live for dance, but we actually love rap too. Therefore, like every other year, our industry has been partly held together by rap, even if over lively tempo.
Trumpet, the debut single off Sarkodie’s forthcoming The Highest album, is among trending topics in the country today. I’m not talking just songs, mind you…topics! It became a fixation once it was released December 11, and has remained like that several days after.
The song is one of two records this year which emphasize the mettle of the new crop of rappers in the game currently. Da’Hammer’s November 15 release Effortless pretty much seeps the same intention. Worlasi, Medikal, Tee Phow, and Akan stake a first-rate claim to their assertion as new kings. Tee Phlow and Medikal return to a parallel platform that is Trumpet, and they do it in the company of colleagues Strongman, Koo Ntakra, Donzy, and Pappy Kojo.
We live to tell our story, to guide the young ones through hope and glory. When you hate on someone’s progress, it’s a process to self affliction. Believe that.
Sarkodie has little to prove today. He is at the very pinnacle of Ghana’s hiphop situation, sorry, Ghana’s music situation. His voice is undoubtedly strong, and his opinion is valued across the continent and beyond. We are inclined therefore, to trust and respect his choices in music, more so for GH rap. And so his decision to take a step back and create this verbal beauty speaks volumes about his understanding of his place in the whole movement.
DefClef is listed producer, though that is being contested at we speak. A time will come for us to discuss that, but it is not today. Nevertheless, Trumpet is a masterpiece: a perfect blend of spoken word splotches by Fortune Dane, Da’Hammer-esque horns, and expert lyricism.
Usually, when you have this many acts on one track, they don’t get to fully express themselves, because they’re all trying to fit into three to four minutes. With Trumpet though, the situation is different: all the acts have access to as much time within which a full verse can fit. And to be honest, all the acts rendered more than decent accounts of themselves, and it will be a tad superfluous to compare performances, as they all fit specifically into a grand design. “This be warning to the fans, I know say you go judge”, Donzy cautions in his verse. It shouldn’t however, stop anyone from making a few observations about the song which is era- defining in every regard.
Again, it’s not so much who murdered who as it is basically you reacting to your favourite rapper from the lot. Think about it.
In Ghana, we instinctively associate a hurried rap style to Sarkodie. Thus, though all the featured acts bear distinct originality, majority somehow portray various traits of his ethos. For instance, the whole song is themed around self-adulation, especially when no one does it for you. Sarkodie has made a whole career out of that theme, and Tee Phlow inflames the song in that tone. Koo Ntakra’s delivery is reminiscent of early Sarkodie: the perpetual enjambment and piercing enunciations of everyday words. Donzy typifies the abrasive razzmatazz and which Sarkodie’s Makye overspills with, Strongman raps with the mindset of a drummer, and is distinguished in his command of Akan oral tradition, Pappy dissolves into infinite fluidity, and Tee Phlow and Medikal anatomise pun and metaphor in a manner that is outstanding – so much so, director Prince Dovlo is compelled to augment their sophisticated techniques with graphic sleights in the video.
Majority of the words in Trumpet are spoken in dialects of the rappers’ birth. That definitely played a part in how the song turned out, for it is in our own tongue we are most articulate –it is how we process thought, even if we end up vocalising it in another tongue.
Both Tee Phlow and Strongman are alumni of GH One TV’s 2012 hiphop reality show The Next Big Thing In Gh, and their genius with stringing words together is simply unheard of…and this is despite the truth that there’s nothing new under the sun. Strongman embodies native wisdoms in his utterances, and possesses true griot lips, even if he’s remarkably young. Recently graduating from the University of Cape Coast, he has courted the respect of doyens in the genre including Obrafour himself, Okyeame Kwame, and FlowKing Stone. Now these are revered lyrical technicians, so their praise is worth so much. Tee Phlow too has garnered respect from the veterans. And while he has graduated from legendary producer Da’Hammer’s Last Two Music Group, which has nurtured influencers as Edem’s, Tinny, Okra Tom Dawidi, Kwaw Kesse among others, Da’Hammer’s midas is a permanent stain on Tee Phlow.
Koo Ntakra is also a product of a music contest: he emerged winner of MTN Hitmaker in 2013. He hasn’t accrued as much popularity as his talent and ethics deserve, but he is relentless, and his talent has earned him respect for sure, which occasioned his place on the roster for Trumpet.
Donny Chaka’s fame came because of his witty 2015 partnership with Kofi Kinaata. The Crusade, dripping with hilarity and lyrical ingenuity, secured him nomination in last year’s Vodafone Ghana Music Awards, and he has maintained a steady focus to the realm of emerging rappers to watch out for.
There’s little doubt that Medikal (born Samuel Adu Frimpong) is the hardest working new act this year, and the likeliest winner for any award scheme with that category. Signed to Cris Waddle’s AMG label, he ranks among our most popular music faces currently. He’s performed on several high-profile shows, the most significant being the over 40, 000 cheering patrons at Starr FM‘s recently-held S-Concert which came off at the Accra Sports Stadium. It is also worth noting that he did all of this almost entirely on the wheels of hiphop. He has to his credit a single body of work at this point: The Medikation mixtape, but both a second instalment and an album are in the offing.
Pappy Kojo emerged on the shoulders of Joey B in 2014 with their partnership on Wave. Realer No followed –this time, with Joey as featured act, and it was received just as massively. A mesh of other hardcore hiphop songs and mid-tempo hits have all but cemented his place as an act deserving of all the hype coming his way. His delivery on Trumpet vindicates him from all misgivings about his expertise, if you ask me.
We all have access to words, but what makes a rapper? What makes a poet? On Trumpet, we see what happens when idle words are entrusted into the hands of true wizards.
Fortune Dane (aside his duties mixing/mastering on the projct) sums the war chant aptly:
So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I bring to you the present, and the future!
Watch Trumpet below: