Image coutesy of Black Sherif.

The Irrefutable Reign Of Black Sherif

The breakout Ghanaian talks to us about his meteoric rise, his use of drill beats, and wanting to tell the true story of Accra.

“I wanted to be a beast before I broke out. I knew that people would hear of me so I wanted that when they heard of me, they would never go back.” Black Sherif says to me with assured confidence when we meet at one of his favorite pubs in East Legon, Accra. It's with a similar gripping beast-like rage that Black Sherif commands attention on his 2021 break-out single, "First Sermon," a hard-hitting drill-influenced ghetto gospel about the survivalist themes of life in Accra.

“Madonna, my manager, and Jamjam shot the First Sermon video,” Black Sherif continued, before pointing out that the clip which has grossed over two million views on Youtube was shot down the road from the pub where we currently enjoyed beers.

At 20-years-old, Black Sherif is one of Ghana’s youngest superstars but Blacko—as he is often called—has long had hankering for musical success, starting his music career at age 17. “I have loved music since I was a kid. I just didn’t know I was going to make a career out of it. I am a Muslim, did you know I am a Muslim?” he asks frankly and I shake my head innocently “My name is Mohammed Ismail Sharif. In Islam, music is more like sin, you shouldn’t make a career out of it if you are a Muslim. The music was chasing me but I was always dodging it. Although, I was popular for dancing in senior high school”

Determined to pursue music as a career, Black Sherif took a gap year after finishing high school to understand music. During this period, the artist attended auditions of talent shows such as Mentor X and MTN Hitmaker that powered the rise of Ghanaian artists like Kidi and Kuami Eugene, among others. He did not make it past the auditions and, shortly after, released his first-ever single, "Cry For Me."

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Ruger Is Afrobeats' New Swashbuckling Star

We talk to the Nigerian artist about his breakout year and "Bounce" reaching number one on Apple Music charts.

No breakout artist has been more assertive than Ruger in 2021. With his pink hair, left eye patch, alluring bravado, and lyrics such as "Ruger is the lockdown, Ruger is the pandemic", no other afrobeats artist has commanded attention and staked a claim to be heard like he has.

It's late in the afternoon when I meet Ruger at the Jonzing World headquarters, the Nigerian record label and talent management company. He steps into the room without any of the gusto he usually displays on TV. At this moment, he is Michael Adebayo Olayinka, a bright-eyed youngster who jokes about everything and watches an obscene amount of Instagram comedy. "I no sabi do anything o, just watch films and Instagram. Anyone that is funny and interesting", the Afro-dancehall artist says of his hobbies.

It was on Instagram that D'prince — the head honcho of Jonzing World — discovered Ruger. Two years before Ruger was unveiled, D'Prince had revealed Rema and has since turned him into the vanguard of new age afrobeats artists. With such precedence, Ruger's excitement undoubtedly shot through the roof the first time D'Prince messaged him. "I used to do freestyles on Instagram every Saturday. I was getting like 12 to 30 comments and I had four hundred followers — I was just enjoying it. It wasn't even up to a year before I'd started putting out freestyles when I saw a DM from D'Prince."

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