The Bitter Truth About The Sark/Fest Battle!

I don't usually speak my mind on show biz because I have a feeling most controversies are calculated to bring someone down and pave way for another. The fact that it mostly touches on the superficial aspect of our lives makes it unattractive to me. The key word here is ‘me’.

Like many people however, I have been overcome by the temptation to speak my mind on what has become known as the Sark-Fest Battle. I won’t pretend to be objective here; I am a fun of Sarkodie who has admiration for Manifest.

In view of this, as much as I try to be objective, my bias will be exposed. I learnt from journalism that: objectivity, subjectively appraised is by itself not reliable’ because no one is free from bias by nature. I won’t pretend I am either.

In Ghana, it is okay to be average and better to remain average. The more successful a person becomes the more hatred he draws. It is more acceptable for a poor man to brag than for a rich man to talk about his wealth. It is okay for Manifest to make claims of being number one than for Sarkodie to say he is the boss.

This is why those who hate Sark really hate him. He is a victim of his own success and given the fact that there is no one to rub shoulders with him at the moment, the new approach is to bring him down so that another overtakes him.

It is laughable that one of the reasons people hate him is that he brags too much. Bragging is part of the culture of hiphop and hiplife. If you hate bragging, how did you fall in love with Lil Wayne, Birdman, Diddy, JZ, Nas, Jarule, 50 Cent, The Game, DMX, DJ khaled, TI, Twister etc?

Is rap music not about who is the boss, who sells out concerts, who has more cars, more money, more women, who raps better, and what have you? Manifest said he is number one; what do you call that? In any case, is it considered bragging for saying something you really are? What of the man who is not what he claims to be? Find better reasons to hate Obidi

In a generation where Pastors pay media houses to publicise their charity works, where husbands show off their gift for their wives on twitter and facebook, where people share pictures of every new clothes they wear, it is hypocritical to accuse a rapper of showing off or hate him for it. People are just bored seeing him reign without a competitor in sight for so long a time.

Regardless of the position you find yourself, you won't deny the fact that Sark is living the dream of many musicians in Ghana. A dream Manifest with all his education and so called family support knows he will need considerable time to experience in reality. He has single-handedly filled major international auditoriums as the headline act. Manifest can’t fill the conference centre.

In fact, he hasn’t headlined a single major show both locally and internationally. Most of his major shows abroad are festivals. In abroad, festivals provide platform for underground artists to showcase their talent. If people say he doesn’t make noise about his shows, it is because there’s not so much to make noise about. Showbiz is show your business.

That doesn’t take anything away from the fact that Manifest is a good artist who is probably underrated but he falls short when compared to Sarkodie in many areas of showbiz. Sarkodie is a better rapper, better entertainer, more consistent and above all, more talented. Sarkodie can rap on a Celine Dion beat and make you dance to it. He can rap on a Busta Rhyme beat and make you emotional. He is the king of freestyle, won awards with mixtapes. We have never had an all-round rapper like him. Give him any beat from any genre of music and he will give you a rap to fit. And his English rap isn’t bad either.

The gap between Sarkodie and Manifest is so wide that any kind of beef between the two will always be to the advantage of Manifest. This week, the name manifest has been mentioned than it ever has since he broke into the music industry. It makes no difference that Sarkodie’s name has also been mentioned equally because Sark can’t get any bigger in Ghana than he already is.

This is one reason why it wasn’t smart for Sarkodie to reply with Kanta. His management need to take responsibility for this one. Battles should be between equals. Whenever there is a mismatch, the underdog gets the sympathy votes. Many people wanted Joe Fraiser to beat Mohamed Ali which he did but Ali remained Ali whereas Joe Fraiser remained Joe Fraiser.

This is also the reason Manifest appears to be winning the battle. Enemies of Sark have joined forces to bring him down so that another person takes the crown. It is a fight every successful person has had to fight in this country. Lumba, Abedi Pele, Nkrumah and now Asamoah Gyan and Sark. Dede get ready. It is the only path to legendary in this country- survive vilification.

What has Okraku said this time that he hasn’t said before? What have people said about him that hasn’t been said before? The difference is that for the first time, a platform has been created for all haters to shout with one voice. This is why they appear louder but they are not in the majority. This platform was provided by Sarkodie himself when he decided to descend into the gutters with Manifest. Mani pulled a fast one on Sark. He has never been this popular.

But legends are not just made from winning mini battles or denied their status by losing one; legends are made from winning wars. Between Manifest and Sarkodie, there is only one legend: there is only one who can be said to be arguably the best ever in hiplife history; only one who can be said to be one of the best if not the best rapper in Africa. Unfortunately, that person is not Manifest.

Between Sarkodie and Manifest, I can count about five hiplife artists who are doing better in the industry than he is. It simply means Mani will have to overtake more than 5 artists to be well placed to mount a challenge against Sark. I will not even waste time to go into the gap between Sark and the second placed artist on this list. Manifest has not done more than Guru, Ayigbe Edem, EL, Shata, Stoneboye or R2bees.

Fortunately for him though, what this beef has done is that it has lifted him from the 6th position he lies on my list to 2nd but he will have to prove it with good hit songs and consistency to remain there. He will have to be entertaining also. EL and the others should not be happy: they are the prey of Sark-Fest. Their position as second to Sark is what’s up for grab and not Obidi’s crown.

People will say he is deep. Music is not philosophy, music is entertainment. I don’t have to struggle to understand a song. In fact, the best songs are the simple songs. Common is the deepest hiphop artist in the context of deep, does that make him better than JZ or Nas? Or does that make JZ and Nas shallow? In any case, do people find him deep because he slurs?

The things he says are the things even the dumbest American will not struggle to grasp at the first time of hearing. People say he is deep because they have to open their ears to hear exactly what he says. Blind fan, you were swerved by the slurred words and not the content. Sark sings more in twi, in a Language most Ghanaians don’t have to struggle to understand. Unfortunately, we live in a country where wisdom is measured by ability to speak big English. Mani you win on this score. The Legon job is waiting

An important aspect overlooked so far is that Manifest wanted this and started it long ago with ‘keep shinning. In one song, he questioned Sark’s BET Award, azonto and called other rappers clowns. It just happened that the song wasn’t a hit so got swept under the carpet. This is a guy who throws a jab at Ghana’s finest in every single song he sings. If you want proof, go back and listen to him. The kind reference to him in Sark’s Bossy just gave him what he wanted- a beef with the boss. Perhaps, it was the only way he probably felt he was going to be noticed and it worked to perfection.

The difference between Sark and Manifest in their jabs of others is that Sarkodie has the track record to back his claims but Manifest hasn’t. It was calculated but Sark wasn’t smart enough. This is the kind of cover an artist needs from his management team. They have done a great job bringing him this far but with so many enemies lurking around, it is time to protect the Sarknation boss.

Now my take on Kanta and godMC

In my honest opinion, the song godMC is lightly better than Kanta. If you have ears for music, you will notice that godMC was carefully written and produced to make a point. Kanta on the other hand is freestyle, a typical street diss song sung from the heart instead of the head. It doesn’t make Kanta a bad song, the rap was amazing but what else can we expect from Obidi. The song was written and recorded on the same day. The rush in bringing it out explains the pro bone error. But one fantastic goal doesn’t make Isco better than Messi. Class is permanent, form is temporal.

Back to Kanta again; GTP and Kaba

Sarkodie didn’t condemn GTP, Wooden or Afrocentrism, he questioned the fashion sense of Manifest (who you’d admit dresses strangely sometimes} There is a problem when a man wears kaba regardless of the material he used. GTP should chill, they wouldn’t be happy seeing men wear kaba with their material. Sark was smart. As his eternal hater Okraku Mantey worries his head about Brand Equity, he forgot that the problem is not the GTP but the Kaba. Mr Okraku, we all know you hate Sark but relax GTP is still GTP okay. How come the very people who claim to love deep lyrics struggle to decode this?

I will have time for Mr Akraku in one of my articles. After his relevance in Ghana music slipped with SLIP Music, he feeds on demonising Sarkodie to remain relevant. He presents himself as the custodian of all knowledge but has documented failures. How did he manage not to get Lord Kenya, an artist who could rap like Tupac to global recognition or even continental? Lord Kenya is one of the best rappers this nation has seen.

To rap like Tupac between 1999 and 2003 was a big deal, a major commercial weapon, I mean a cash cow for any smart manager or producer who understands branding or its equity. Don’t forget VIP and other local artists won Kora Music awards around the same time LK was King in Ghana) How did he manage to get Hitz FM doing worse than Plus FM and YFM? What has come out of the talent he churned out at Mentor? Man you have many flaws so give Sarkodie a break and fix yours. An imperfect man has no moral right to demand perfection from another.

Free, Pro Bono

With a little patience and due diligence, this could have been avoided. I have learnt not to speak when I am angry and I hope Sark learns from this. But since when did we start marking grammar in rap music or music in general? When did all the music academicians go hiding until now?

Sarkodie said free and pro bono so what? JZ, lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Gwen Stefani, Justin Timberlake are artist from America, English is the only language they speak. Guess what, they have many grammatical errors accepted in the context of music.

The link below will give you example of errors in hit songs from artists from America and UK. The second link will give you grammatical errors in every single top 5 Bill Board chart topping song between 1988 and 2008.

In Ghana, wisdom is measured by ability to speak good English. It is okay if a Ghanaian can’t speak any of our local languages.

Manifest may be the more educated of the two; he lived his life mostly in the US and is therefore no achievement if he speaks and raps like one. He holds Masters in Economics (If what has been reported is true) interestingly, from the street Sarkodie has done more than Manifest in music. Like football, the street has given more to rap music than the classroom

The damning part is that Sarkodie is more popular in the US than Manifest who grew up there. It seems America will rather buy twi from Ghana instead of recycled English.

That doesn’t take away the fact that Manifest is a good artist, a great lyricist with enough talent to emulate Sark. He is really that good. But to take Sark’s crown, he has to produce hit after hit, demonstrate versatility and murder beats after beats for the next 5 years and hope that Sark doesn’t improve or maintain his current standing.

Today, if we want an artist to represent Ghana in a musical battle anywhere in the world, Sark remains our best and safest bet. It has been so since 2009. What is a god who cannot be trusted in a war to a King?