The Obrafour/Sarkodie collaboration is the most looked-forward to in this town –it has been the case for years. The reason is simple: aside being artistic livewires by themselves, their partnerships perennially prove to be cornerstone material. Typically, motivational spiels on humanity, these records often function as timely vehicles for sober retrospection and soul-searching.
Within a spate of weeks, we have been served two more mighty joints from the pair; Brighter Day –that moving number Sarkodie premiered at the 2018 VGMAs, and now, Moesha which, going by the title alone, appears to be commentary on actress Moesha Boduong’s controversial CNN confessions.
Like Brighter Day, Moesha is produced by JMJ (most famed for his work with Samini, and Kaakie), and so boasts of airtight production that only a veteran can offer. However, whereas Brighter Day expounds the need to identify the blessing in every situation, the latter grieves a hasty love decision –Moesha, with whom the narrator used to share romantic affection, but whom he has left for flimsy reasons, must be won back urgently, as leaving her has turned out to be a costly mistake. All sections of the song capture the desperate honesty that is the feature of all heartfelt remorse:
“We’ve broken up longtime ago
Still can’t believe why I let you go
It was a mistake but now I know”
While they appear prosaic, these words, which constitute Obrafour’s first words in the song, promptly strike uncomfortable nostalgia within the listener who, very likely has thought them at some point. The purpose of all great songwriting is to awaken emotion, and for as long as the rapper has done music actively, that box has been ticked. Writing for highlife –the genre to which the record leans –is tricky business: one is tasked with the delicate goal of inspiring dance and deep thought concurrently. Again, Obrafour is one of a handful of recording artists who check this box. His entire account on Moesha –his sensitive verses and hook (which see him blend slickly, the English language and his native Twi), portray a master storyteller at work. Often, actual mood is heard, not in words, but in the voice through which they are carried. Obrafour excels here too –for his aching voice suits supplication perfectly. That same voice has, for decades, served as a trusted instrument for social commentary.
Sarkodie’s voice too, has assumed archetypal familiarity due to his leadership in GH rap this past decade. Few contemporary rhymers have to their credit, as many notable verses as Sarkodie — a clear testament to his current stature in the genre. His technique is riveting, and his style the subject of imitation by many an upcoming rapper. How he has kept his place at the apex regardless, is one for his biographers. On Moesha, much like on stuff he has published previously, his voice is not merely heard, but also felt intensely. These days, Sarkodie’s narrative procedure is criticized as “cliché”, but every artist must have vocal identity, and truthfully, were other rappers to have published as much content as Sarkodie has put out, their style too would bear a similar tag.
Representing significant phases of the Hiplife arc (Obrafour as forebear and language guru, Sarkodie as icon of modern glory), the rappers share genuine mutual respect for each other’s artistry, and their unique creative chemistry has been crowned with habitual masterpieces.
At first, Moesha looks like a marketing gimmick, but this is Obrafour, who has never required to latch unto a trending issue to remain relevant, more so at this point in his career, when his legacy is firmly in place. Indeed, when artwork for the record was released days ago, it was widely anticipated to be obvious commentary on the actress. Clearly, we thought wrong.
“Now I know your love was so divine
Wish I go fit reverse the hand of time
Don’t know what to do to bring you back”
But maybe the song is indeed about Moesha after all. Sometimes, the best way to address something is to navigate it through other things. Obrafour is a lyrical mastermind; a clever old man who has frequently stirred social action with his music. Genius resides in his DNA, which is why the following theories, however wild, are worth considering: (a); backlash which followed the socialite’s CNN comments was so intense that she reportedly was afraid to return to Ghana. Listeners will most likely come to the song with a set of negative preconceptions, but the tune, by the time it plays fully, portrays “Moesha” in a rather positive light; courting for her, ample empathy. The song doesn’t immediately repair her public image, but it definitely sets her on that path. It could be subtle reference to the adage that when your child excretes unto your thigh, severing that body part is extreme, (b); the song reechoes Ms. Boduong’s apology to Ghanafo (which seemed to have done little to restore her in the people’s good graces) – the song’s title serving as a crafty metaphor for the country, the remorseful men, Moesha on her begging knees.