Although the hiplife genre began in the 1980s, Ghanian musician Sarkodie has done perhaps more than any other artist to help the genre grow and spread. Hiplife uniquely blends the genres of highlife and hip hop. An an unofficial ambassador for the genre, Sarkodie raps in his native Twi language and doesn’t shy away from lyrics related to political and cultural conflicts. Although hiplife started in Ghana, it didn’t take long for it to become popular throughout Western Africa. Thanks in large part to Sarkodie, the genre is now popular around the world, especially in the UK and the US.
In September, Sarkodie released his fifth studio album, Highest. It features everything Sark is known for: lyrics both poetic and passionate, rapid-fire rapping, storytelling running the gamut of emotions and topics, and great collaborations with other artists. It’s also a perfect example of that hiplife vibe. Joey Akan wrote for Pulse that Highest proves that Sarkodie “qualifies for a spot in the pantheon of African rap gods.”
Last year, Sarkodie traveled to Cambridge, MA to speak at Harvard. His speech to students was called “The Art of the Hustle” and it’s clear that he’s an artist that truly knows how to hustle; you can watch the talk here. His hustling skills have definitely paid off. In addition to helping make hiplife known worldwide, he’s consistently named on Forbes Africa’s Top 10 Most Bankable Artists In Africa list.
Recently, Sarkodie has been involved in some supposed controversy. There have been rumors of a major beef between Sark and Obrafour, with fans speculating that recent songs from both artists are diss tracks about the other. Obrafour has denied these rumors and has complimented Sarkodie’s work. Feud or not, Sarkodie and Obrafour will soon be teaming up for a joint album produced by Da’Hammer. Sarkodie just finished a UK tour. American fans who have gotten hooked on hiplife are hoping he’ll be heading to the US next.