Enviably decorated rapper, Sarkodie has released his 5th studio album, christened Highest. It is a collection of 16 songs and three interludes. I embarked on a journey of listening to the album and upon completion, this is the experience I want to share;
TRACK O1: SILENCE ft. Suli Breaks
Talented spoken word artiste, Suli Breaks welcomes listeners to the Highest Album with an insight into the person behind the appellation, Highest. Having completed his initial presentation, The Highest himself makes his way through the aisle of Jayso’s bumping kicks to take up the microphone and announce his presence. The Highest, Sarkodie shares aspects of his inspirational story, gives acknowledgment to his management team members who have played an instrumental role in his success story, and in concluding the first tune on the album, Suli Breaks makes a return to disseminate that Sarkodie’s victory will be ‘their’ SILENCE.
TRACK 02: OVERDOSE ft. Jesse Jagz
The primary purpose of the second track seeks to inform listeners that he has taken an ultra dosage of rap. Laced with a cool hook lent by Nigerian hip hop recording artiste, Jesse Jagz, Sarkodie, as usual, employs braggadocio to lay his verses on the Nova production. He also directs some missiles at rival rappers, mostly in the second verse, as a normal hip hop activity.
TRACK 03: COME TO ME ft. Bobii Lewis
On Come To Me, Sarkodie invites UK recording artiste, Bobii Lewis to assume jurisdiction over the chorus. It is an apparently R&B sound, where Sarkodie and Bobii Lewis basically share their experience with their suitors thus far.
INTERLUDE- HIGHEST (PART 1) by Suli Breaks
The English spoken word artiste, Suli Breaks reemerges to continue an unfinished address he commenced on the maiden tune by delivering a message which conveys the greatness that abounds from The Highest.
TRACK 05: WE NO DEY FEAR ft. Jayso
This particular tune is similar to Bossy, a single which dropped last year and was presented by the same duo on this record. The Bossy tune sparked a host of controversies following its release. Expectedly, this hardcore hip hop song which is dominant with shots targeted at rival rappers may also intensify the humidity of the rap game’s climatic conditions.
TRACK 06: CERTIFIED ft. Jayso & Worlasi
The trio on this record embarked on an apparently relay performance. Multi-talented artiste, Worlasi commences the relay by uniquely displaying his musical prowess with dynamism. In addition to manufacturing the instrumental, Jayso this time around decides to participate in the microphone abuse by taking over from Worlasi with interesting bars. He hands over to Sarkodie who inter alia, informs us that the rapping activity is not his hobby but his ‘9-5’ (am-pm) which suggests that it is a profession that he’s fully committed to.
TRACK 07: LOVE YOURSELF ft. Moelogo
This song possesses a sumptuous melody exuded by South London’s rising Afrobeats star, Moelogo. The concept of the song is a pretty unusual one emanating from the camp of Sarkodie. Sarkodie entreats ladies who feel insecure in life to eschew the insecurity. He also encourages them to be trend setters with an admirable level of confidence.
INTERLUDE- HIGHEST (PART 2) by Suli Breaks
Suli Breaks returns with the 2nd interlude on the album. He puts the spotlight on envious naysayers who would aim at distracting The Highest but their malicious attempts would not erode the fact that Sarkodie’s music would be the gospel for the congregation.
TRACK 09: HIGHEST
Sarkodie activates his beast mode to encounter the monstrous Jayso handiwork in a ruthless manner. The aggression he displays is reminiscent of the classical Sarkodie of 2008 – 2010. As usual, he employs elements of braggadocio and artilleries fired at rivals. It is the track bearing the title of the album, and it is also the only track without a guest artiste. Expectedly, he had to unilaterally substantiate why he is The Highest on the wildly challenging beat.
TRACK 10: LIGHT IT UP ft. Big Narstie & Jayso
Light It Up begins with a sound which appears to be emanating from a siren. It gives an indication of an impending demolition of another typical hip hop instrumental by Jayso. On this record, Sarkodie embarks on the demolition exercise with the assistance of British grime MC, Big Narstie. The lyrical content of the song is ordinary. The only component of the song that could be considered to be extraordinary is Jayso’s production. Top-notch!
TRACK 11: FAR AWAY ft. Korede Bello
This should be one of the commercially huge songs on the album. Sarkodie himself attested to this during the album listening session held in Accra for a select media personnel a few weeks ago. A commercial afrobeat sound which features Nigerian singer, Korede Bello. The Marvin Records signee delivers one of the jamming melodies on the album. Sarkodie and Korede Bello give words of assurance to their loved ones to sustain their relationships with them. The duo promise not to break the hearts of their special ones.
TRACK 12: YOUR WAIST ft. Flavour
The trio on the hit single, Finally, which made waves across the continent reconverge on track 12, titled Your Waist. The tune hinges on one of the common afrobeat themes of glorifying the natural endowments of ladies, with the headline endowment being the waist on this one. On the gently woven instrumental by Masterkraft, Flavour makes his contribution with a soothing hook, whilst Sarkodie lays some cool verses.
INTERLUDE- HIGHEST (PART 3) by Suli Breaks
Suli Breaks concludes his assignment on the album with the final interlude. He asks for forgiveness for the forces of opposition The Highest encounters.
TRACK 14: BABY MAMA ft. Joey B
Joey B and Sarkodie did an excellent collaboration on Two Paddies, one of the tracks off Sarkodie’s 3rd studio album, Sarkology. On the Highest album, Sarkodie once again collaborates with Joey B, and Baby Mama is the joint. Baby Mama is a very interesting tune. This lies in the fact that it’s revealing. Interspersed with Joey B’s quasi-solemn hook, Sarkodie gives an account of activities which transpires in his abode. Notably, he reveals to listeners about the regular activities of his Baby Mama, Tracy at home.
TRACK 15: ALL I WANT IS YOU ft. Praiz
Nigerian vocalist, Praiz excellently goes western with his style on All I Want Is You. Another song on the album which is centred on love. The instrumentation was originally put together by Gaffaci but was later amended by CedSolo. A very good job was done by dynamizing the instrumental to create a unique and rare sound in this part of our world. Sarkodie’s delivery, as usual, solid.
TRACK 16: ALL NIGHT ft. Victoria Kimani
The first time I saw Sarkodie going very intimate with a lady in a music video was on Giving You, a single by the American-born Kenyan songstress, Victoria Kimani. The concept of the song appropriated the intimate scenes by Sarkodie and Victoria Kimani in the music video for that tune. It is therefore not surprising that on All Night, Sarkodie hosts Victoria Kimani to execute a performance based on a concept similar to that of Giving You. As the content suggests, All Night stimulates some sensual imaginations of bedroom activities which normally go down in the night.
TRACK 17: SEE ONLY YOU ft. Jayso
It is another Sarkodie and Jayso joint on the Highest Album. Jayso prefers to be more melodious this time around. See Only You is aimed at simply expressing words of loyalty to a loved one. Nothing much!
TRACK 18: GLORY ft. Yung L
I would rate Glory as the most inspirational tune on the album. A spiritual record which can trigger tears flowing non-intermittently from the eyes of emotionally sensitive listeners like a waterfall. Nigerian artiste, Yung L did magic on the song with a touching chorus. On Glory, Sarkodie gives glory to God for his turbulent yet successful journey to the pinnacle as The Highest. He takes the opportunity to advise his target audience not to terminate their dependence on The Lord. He also inspires listeners to inculcate the spirit of perseverance in our endeavours.
Bonus Track: PAIN KILLER ft. Runtown
Sarkodie complements the album with a bonus track, bearing the title Painkiller. A huge afrobeat jam which features Nigerian singer, Runtown. Released off the Highest album about seven months ago, Painkiller has been doing well commercially across the continent. It has made it to several charts compiled by credible media outlets and its accompanying visuals has also been viewed on Youtube over 7 million times so far.
Generally, The Highest Album is a very good piece of work. Felicitations to Sarkodie and Jayso, who contributed about 90% of effort to the making of this project. Sarkodie and Jayso’s musical bromance as manifested in this album dates back to the early days of Sarkodie’s career, where Jayso produced Sarkodie’s early tunes like Lay Away, Borga, Chat With You, Pizza & Burger, amongst others. The productions on the Highest Album were professionally discharged. The other producers on the album included Nova, T Spize, Masterkraft, CedSolo & Gaffaci Posigee and Guilty Beatz. They all did a great job. The guest artistes were Suli Breaks, Jesse Jags, Bobii Lewis, Worlasi, Moelogo, Big Narstie, Korede Bello, Flavour, Joey B, Praiz, Victoria Kimani, Yung L and Runtown. They spiced up the album with their melodious displays and heated verses.
On the lyrical content, it was not varied enough in my opinion. However, prior to the release of this album, Sarkodie informed us that the album is primarily about his state of mind. And that is what he expresses on the album. He stays within the defined scope of the concept to deliver his current state of mind- about himself. He shares his philosophy about rap and his success story. I consider it as an album intended to consolidate his achievements in the industry. It also seeks to fortify his rank in the rap game.
Highest is a fairly balanced album with Hip Hop, Afrobeat/Afro pop, and R & B jams. The Hip Hop presence is for the culture. The immense presence of shades, self-adulations, glorification of materialism, amongst others are inclusive in the norms of the culture. It may serve a purpose of keeping the hip hop game alive with healthy rivalries. In my opinion, I think the afrobeat/afropop jams were included in the compilation to serve as catalysts to accelerate the commercial success of the album. On a percentage scale, I would rate the album 75%. Thanks for reading!
By Seth Mireku