RAPPERHOLIC 2023 Review: Celebrating Musical Legacy & A Legend; The Rebirth of The Sarkcess Era.
What is a legacy without consistency, hard work and the right support system? 25th December is acknowledged and celebrated globally as Christmas Day (aka the birth of Jesus Christ). It is a huge day for both believers and non-believers. It’s a day of feast, prayer, family time and of course, loads of beautiful moments. In the Ghanaian entertainment space, 25th December is reserved for one of the country’s biggest musical acts. It is the day that Sarkodie, the biggest musical export, hosts his annual RAPPERHOLIC show.
Rapperholic; a Sarkcess label event, headlined by Sarkodie celebrated its 10th year on 25th December, 2023. The show was called “Rebirth”, which in my opinion, signifies the start of a new musical era.
A week before the concert, a ”Rapperholic Exhibition” was held in Sarkodie’s honour to celebrate his achievements in the industry through pictures, newspaper clippings and numerous memorabilia. The curated art exhibition showcased his outstanding 10-year legacy- his journey, success (including 2 BET awards, 28 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards, 1 award from MTV Africa Music, 3 Headies awards), the impact of his music on the local and global music space. As Ghana’s and Africa’s most decorated musician, an exhibition to celebrate Sarkodie is indeed overdue.
The well patronized exhibition witnessed great musical performances from legendary highlife act, Amakye Dede. Other artists who stepped on stage to commemorate the event were Efya and King Promise. Black Sherif, Lasmid, Akwaboah, Quamina MP, Kofi Mole, Pappy Kojo, Kofi Jamar were some of the artists who thronged the exhibition grounds to show their support. Patronage was so high that the organizers decided to extend the opening by another week.
RAPPERHOLIC: THE MAIN EVENT
Grand Arena, Accra: The Rapperholic concert kicked off at about 7:45pm on Monday, 25th December, 2023. A perfect day to host an event considering the next day was a holiday; meaning attendees could have a day’s rest. The main event started shortly after the auditorium was full with the DJs and hype-man (Abeiku Sarkcess) entertaining the expectant crowd with great music: hit after hit as they waited for the commencement of the performances.
The electrifying performances aside, Sarkodie’s trademark of introducing or amplifying emerging artists by offering them performance slots on the Rapperholic stage was on full display. The night witnessed performances from Olive The Boy and Banzy Banero, who thrilled fans with their hit singles ‘’GoodSin’’ and ‘’Hosanna’’ respectively. Other upcoming acts featured on the night were Lali X Lola, Vanilla, Zeetown Melody, Teflon Flexx, Fimfim, Bogo Blaze, Aduberks, Malcom Numa, Osa and Lynx Entertainment signees DSL and Maya Blu. Aduberks’ (drummer who plays to pre-recorded beats) performance caught my attention the most. His creativity and ability to play to the rhythmic flow of the beats with his live drumming abilities was such a wholesome experience. Notable acts like Quamina MP, Pappy Kojo, Oseikrom Sikani, Kofi Mole and Tulenkey took turns to thrill the packed auditorium, performing about 3-5 songs each.
At about 11:05 PM, an excellently produced short documentary of Sarkodie’s Jamz Tour, Rapperholic Exhibition and other events that featured him was beamed on a giant screen. The screening heralded the entry of Sarkodie who mounted the stage around 11:15 PM. The auditorium shaking cheer that greeted his entry was electrifying. The unflinching expression of loyalty, love and dedication his fans (SARKNATIVES) continue to show him or anything that involves him must be studied. It’s near cult level dedication.
Performing “OTAN ” as his entry song, Sarkodie appeared on stage in a cage wearing an all black outfit with dwarfs (small humans) cast as demons attempting to maul him. Ladies in white long dresses adorned with wings on the shoulders of their dresses (angels) climbed up the stage to fight the “demons’ ‘, The scene represented a metaphor for good/light over evil/darkness; the theme of ‘’OTAN’’ as well as a reality of life where success breeds jealousy and envy; something Sarkodie has experienced throughout his career.
Sarkodie on the night performed about 50 songs over four sets of performances with each set consisting of between 7-10 songs. This was achieved in 2-and-half hours. This is not surprising for an artist who has been active for the past 12 years and built a cache of songs and features over these years. Watching him perform for nearly three hours, backed by a live band, pointed to his experience, reinvention, excellent coordination (with a band) and his excitement to be with his fans. Some of the songs he performed during the first set were Otan, Try Me, Homicide, CEO Flow, MTTG, Revenge, Rollies & Cigar– a full hip hop set.
For his second set, Sarkodie pulled up on stage in a red Lamborghini, yes a LAMBO!!! Dressed in a black denim vest and pants, he continued with his rap songs, you know the ones the real Sarknation fans are familiar with, yes. For this performance, you just had to watch and appreciate his pen work, his penchant to flex and owning up to his moniker ”Landlord”.
For set number 3, he performed Better Days, Brighter Days, Life, songs with hopeful messages. The bubble of excitement swirling across the auditorium, with fans blurting out the lyrics of the songs being performed was punctured by an emotional video tribute to his late lawyer, Cynthia Quarcoo who many consider a key pillar in his growth as an artist and businessman. The outpour of emotion was heightened further by the performance of ‘’Glory’’ as the reels beamed.
Sarkodie would change outfits- like pants paired with a black t-shirt- for his fourth set laden with love songs. Efya opened his set with Sarkcess Story. The two would later give a stellar performance of their hit song Saara. If there was a thing you can confidently count on Efya for, it’s her ability to deliver an energetic and beautiful vocal performance. Sarkodie took over the stage again and performed Mary, Mewu, Anadwo before diving into some old classics like Sweetio and the Runtown assisted song ‘’Painkiller’’. He would perform the hooks of Tonga, Baafira ,No Kissing.
To push the excitement a notch higher, Sark invited a “big booty” girl on stage to shake her a$$ as he performed ‘’Bootie Language’’, a perfect precursor to his final set of what can be described as ‘’raunchy’’ tunes. The crowd cheered on as expected, it was an eye-saw, I must say. He performed Freaky & Naughty, Cougar, Coachella, Illuminati and Original. Feeding off the energy of the cheering fans, Sark dished out more songs – Borga Borga, Push, Pon Di Ting, Ofeetso, Lucky, Non Living Thing, She Bad and Can’t Let You Go – turning this set into a jams session as he performed some of his top hit features.
For his last set, Sarkodie revisited the Azonto era with hits like Baby, Confam, Megye Wo Girl, Give It To Me, Adonai, Onyame Ashirawo, U Go Kill Me, Dangerous, Gogo Wo Ho. He crowned the night with everybody’s favorite, Country Side.
Just like every great show, the confetti popped, appreciation was said, sponsors were acknowledged and the show came to an end. For a first-timer at Rapperholic, I was blown away by the energy of the crowd, Sarkodie’s performances, the timely arrangements of the sets (songs) and more importantly, the organization – from security to productions. The set lists, encompassing a diverse range of songs, reflected the artist’s versatility and commitment to delivering an unforgettable experience.
The only downside to the event was the venue. Speaking with some committed patrons of Rapperholic, it became clear that the Grand Arena has become too small a venue to host the increasing number of patrons. The venue was great to host his fans some years ago. But, now, there is the need for him and the team to consider other venue options. His stature within the music scene calls for that.
With that said, if you’re looking to attend any upcoming Sarkodie event, this is your sign, get that ticket and thank me later.