The elite Ghanaian rapper affirms his king status with this seventh studio album, No Pressure.
Sarkodie is one of the most successful African rappers of all time. With over ten years of industry presence under his belt, there's no question about his prowess or skin in the game. Not only is he a pioneer of African hip-hop, he's also the most decorated African rapper, having received over 100 awards from close to 200 nominations over the span of his career.
What else does Sarkodie have to prove? For someone who has reached and stayed at the pinnacle of hip-hop for more than a decade, he's done it all. But despite that, he's still embracing new growth. One can tell just by listening to his latest album, No Pressure, Sarkodie's seventh studio album, and the follow-up to 2019's Black Love which brought us some of the Ghanaian star's best music so far. King Sark may be as big as it gets, but the scope of his music is still evolving.
Sonically, No Pressure is predominantly hip-hop, with the first ten tracks offering different blends of rap topped off with a handful of afrobeats and, finally, being crowned at the end with a gospel hip-hop cut featuring Ghanaian singer MOG. As far as the features go, Sark is known for collaborating mostly with his African peers but this time around he branches out further to feature a number of guests from around the world. Wale, Vic Mensa, and Giggs, the crème de la crème of rap in America and the UK respectively all make appearances, as well as Nigeria's Oxlade, South Africa's Cassper Nyovest, and his fellow Ghanaian artists Darkovibes and Kwesi Arthur.
Image provided by the artist.
Just like the album's title illustrates, Sarkodie feels absolutely no pressure to follow anyone else's lead. He shows you just what he wants you to see, and tells you just what he wants you to hear. It's evident in the almost-casual bravado of his bars and verses — these are the words of a king.
We spoke to Sarkodie about his latest album and more, and he fills us in on all the details. Check out our conversation below.
Where does your name come from?
I get my name from the word "okodie." "Okodie" means the eagle in Twi, and the name Sarkodie is a surname in Ghana. I affiliate my brand with the eagle, so to say something is like the eagle, you would say "tse s3 okodie" so that's how I creatively landed on "Sarkodie" because it almost sounds like the eagle.
What's one thing you do every morning without fail?
It depends on where I am, but when I'm home it's definitely me trying to reach out and look for my kids. Whether they've been in their room or wherever that should be the first thing. By reflex I would first like to see my kids.
What gets you out of bed?
The fact that you have people you take care of, people who care about what you do. When it has to do with work, I have SarkNation. They want me to put out music, they want me to win, they want me to do stuff. And I have family that I provide for and that I have to take care of. So definitely that, and also as a person I just wanna make sure I give the world everything that's in me before I leave.
Image provided by the artist.
Describe Ghana in one word?
What's your favorite meal?
It would have to be rice and egg stew.
What song do you have on repeat right now?
"Second Sermon" by Black Sherif. He's just pure talent, you know. He's raw, he's real, and he's super passionate and that's what I go for in artists. I believe that's the strongest asset every artist can possess. I think he's super passionate and definitely has incredible talent.
What specific genre would you prescribe to your music?
That's hard for me to label, but I definitely think a good percentage of my music is towards rap/hip-hop, so I would say I mainly do hip-hop and afrobeats.
Sarkodie - No Fugazy (Official Video) youtu.be
Now let's talk about your latest album, No Pressure. What's the idea behind the album?
So, [it's called] No Pressure because I've been doing this for over ten years, so I trust the process of how I work. I'm at a point where most artists get to when they get pressure from people to do what they want them to do, and most artists fall off when they want to respond to that. So you have to diffuse the pressure that people put on us and be able to create freely and do the music that you love. That's why I named the album No Pressure because at this point I think I just have to be on cruise control.
How did you choose the collaborations for the album?
Like I always do I just try to listen to the music. To the sounds, the tones, the mood of the music and see who suits it. So it was just as organic as it could be, you know. I didn't just put people on because they had to be on, the song has to feel like it needed a person. So I just listened to the mood of the music to choose who has to be featured on.
Who did you enjoy working with the most?
Almost everyone that I had a physical studio session with. So I could say Giggs and Kwesi Arthur. Those were the two main people I got to be in the studio with. Kwesi is like a young king from Tema in Ghana. It's interesting to look at him record, so I definitely enjoyed the whole process. Giggs is definitely my favorite MC in the UK and in my top five worldwide. It was an honor and a great feeling to know that someone that I really respect is hopping on my record. It was pure respect and vibes, and I definitely enjoyed it. And Vic Mensa as well, that was great.
Sarkodie - Anything (Audio slide) youtu.be
What's your favorite song on the album?
I'll say "Anything." It's between that and "No Fugazy," but I'll give it to "Anything." The song speaks about what people do these days for clout. They want to chase trends and they want to be in the news. People just want to do anything to be known or in the news or make it. So it's quite deep. And I like the production, it suits the music type for the album. I like music that makes me be in a certain mood, that makes me feel on top of the world, so shouts to Nova — the beat is incredible and I love the concept as well.
Who are the other producers that you worked with?
I had Beatfreaks, I had Certified Bangerz, Sarge. MOG Beatz definitely, he can never not be on my project. And I had Kaywa, Rexxie and a couple others.
What do you want people's takeaway from this album to be?
I just want people to enjoy good music and, with all the genres in the album, I want to be able to appeal to all forms of music lovers. Obviously it's dominated by hip-hop, but I want people to listen to the project and honestly appreciate all the sounds. As far as music is concerned, it's diverse. It's just a good upgrade on what Sarkodie has built so far, showing me in a different light. So I just want people to really enjoy good good music, from all the genres.