Hiplife is a music phenomenon that fuses high life and hip hop. This Ghanaian musical style is rapidly gaining momentum throughout West Africa and abroad– specifically in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Germany.
Hiplife can be traced back to the early 1980’s with artists such as K.K. Kabobo and Gyedu Blay Ambolley. Jay Q was a major pioneer of the Hiplife genre in the early 1990’s and is often referred to as the “backbone” of Ghanaian music as a whole.
Hiplife fuses a variety of musical styles to bring together a unique balance of music composed of reggae rhythms and Ghanaian melodies. Traditionally, Hiplife is recorded in a studio focusing on computer aided compositions, arrangement and production. Hiplife artists are not known for using their own personal instruments, and most performances are done using voice over techniques combined with their prerecorded instrumentals and dubs.
Today’s leading Hiplife artist is Sarkodie. He is known for rapping in his native language Twi and for his freestyles that incorporate Ghana’s major issues and political conflicts. In 2010, Sarkodie won awards for Artist of the Year and Album of the Year. Two years later, his sophomore album, “Rapperholic”, got a staggering 12 nominations and won 3 awards. In 2012, Sarkodie also won a BET Award for “Best International Act: Africa”.
Sarkodie was born Michael Owusu Addo in Tema, Ghana. Growing up, Sarkodie began rapping at a very early age. After obtaining his degree in Graphic Design from IPMC, Sarkodie began his career as an underground rapper appearing in the Adom FM’s rap competition Kasahare Level.
It was at this point he met his former manager Duncan Williams of Duncwills Entertainment. After being introduced to Hammer of The Last Two, Hammer decided to feature Sarkodie on two songs from his album, Volta Regime. This opportunity sparked his career and soon Sarkodie was dropping his first release, “Baby”.
In 2009, with his first full debut album, Makye, Sarkodie began his life long dream of becoming a well known artist. Over the years, he would continue to produce award winning albums, advocate for underprivileged children, and build a clothing empire.
Recently, Sarkodie was invited to Harvard University to share his life experiences as a successful African artist. He was able to use this opportunity to share his personal struggles, successes and opportunities with up-and-coming students.
The eclectic origins of hiplife are a testament to its international success; and with artist and ambassadors like Sarkodie, Hiplife will continue to grow and thrive on the world stage.