On his 2022 release JAMZ, highly decorated Ghanaian rapper Sarkodie lets loose with a breezy selection of sounds spanning R&B, Afrobeats, amapiano and tropical pop.
“It’s influenced by the new wave of Afrobeats and the sounds coming out of Africa,” Sarkodie reveals. “When the album started being recorded, I realised these are back-to-back, commercially good, playlist-type records—so this project combines all sorts of jams in one.”
Celebrating the good things in life through his trademark flows, the Tema-native taps Black Sherif, Lojay, King Promise, Kranium, Cina Soul, Oxlade, BNXN, Inkboy and Joeboy to layer these tracks with balmy hooks and infectious melodies.
“I’m in a space where I’m enjoying life, family and spending time with people I cherish so the tone of the music reflects that,” he shares. “It’s like listening to the radio—it has to make you happy.” Below, he talks us through the album, track by track.
“Labadi” (feat. King Promise)
“My star sign is cancer, so I love being close to the ocean and I’m at peace when I hear the waves. I’m literally enjoying life so I go to places with my family and we get a boat and play music. That’s what influenced ‘Labadi’. It’s one of the greatest spots here in Ghana—it’s actually where I had my wedding and I love the place. This one’s special because Coublon sent me the beat and I just started writing. I had the first verse, and hit him back to ask what he was feeling when he was playing it. He said, ‘Boat ride, all white, having fun’, and that’s exactly what I’d written.”
“She Bad” (feat. Oxlade)
“I like melodies that make you feel something, so with ‘She Bad’ I gave GuiltyBeatz the melody I wanted. I love something that has some soul in it, so we had a melody that was very calm, R&B-ish, and then we started putting in the drums to have that amapiano vibe. Ox was the first option that came in my head and he created the mood for this, especially with the lyrics. I followed his chorus to write my verses.”
“How I appreciated amapiano the most was when I went to my favourite spots in Ghana called Skybar. I think that drum brings the rap element out of me—I could rap on that forever! The lyrics to this are for the typical Sarkodie fan from way back, especially Ghanaians who understand the stuff I say. I was very witty and saying some funny stuff. I was just taking myself back to the old Sark.”
“One Million Cedis” (feat. Ink Boy)
“We were in Nigeria and Masterkraft played this. I always follow the production ‘cause it brings out what I have to say or how I have to feel. This beat’s tones are very dark and it makes you feel bossy. Ink was creating melodies and when I heard them I was like, ‘This is what I want!’. I got him on board, we had fun and he killed that hook.”
“Cougar” (feat. Lojay)
“It’s not necessarily older women, but I’ve always been drawn to strong women who are very mature and independent. I’m a deep thinker. I love having conversations where we’re on the same level—not just in relationships even normal conversations or in business, when we speak we get each other. My wife is like that; I call her the living Google… she has an idea about almost everything. Even if it’s not in depth, she’s super smart and knows about it. That’s a turn-on for me and that’s how ‘Cougar’ came about.”
“Forever” (feat. Kranium)
“There are certain places I wanna be when I play this record ‘cause I just keep seeing them vividly when I listen to the project. The mood of this gave me a ‘let’s get away’ type of vibe. You’re with your girl going to a nice beautiful place or resort in Paris or Miami.”
“Over Me” (feat. Cina Soul)
“You can always get me to give you some mood music, aside from the dynamic quicks and cadences. MOG knows this, and the way I want to rap, so he sent this record. I was just having fun with the beat, so when I say something it doesn’t land on anything, it just plays a little bit. I think Cina is one of the greatest singers out of Ghana at this point and we had a great vibe.”
“Hips Don’t Lie” (feat. Joeboy)
“‘Very pretty lady of course/Self-confidence, I guess I got me a boss.’ How I like my women just subconsciously comes out. I like confidence and I’m drawn to it… I don’t know how someone wouldn’t find it attractive.”
“Country Side” (feat. Black Sherif)
“Black Sherif is in a space where he’s been through a lot and now he’s finally made it. That shock of moving from nothing to this is still with him. He came with that energy and it threw me back to that time as well. I like that he made me revisit that phase between being underground and coming up for the first time, ‘cause it’s something you can’t get over—when life is good you actually get scared! Even today sometimes, I have to pinch myself because it all feels too good to be true.”
“Better Days” (feat. BNXN fka Buju)
“This is to make sure the fan base is well represented. The core Sarkodie fans always like it when I speak about life and give them hope. They also always want me to rap so I put myself in that zone remembering what I used to think about and how things are going now.”
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