This Is How Sarkodie Fooled Ghanaians With His Atheism 1
“Now here comes the Man—the Man that had the plan
“That in one year he will gain a million fans…
“Not large in the sense that I’ll be immense
“But my financial status and my pockets’ll be the fattest around…
“If there’s beef, I’m the butcher that will go and settle it…
“The One hates when you say he’s number two, or number eight on the countdown…
“The One is the only one
“And I shall not have no other one but this one—word up!
“Dear Rap,” a track that appeared on Sarkodie’s 2014 album Sarkology, generated a sensational controversy with what looks like an earworm line “No sin, No God, No heaven.”
The 30-track album also features “Gunshot,” “Lies,’ “War,” “Devil in Me,” “Illuminati,” obviously tracks with seeming “negative” titular connotations, as well as others with seeming “positive” titular connotations, from “Adonai,” “Odo Yede,” “Elijah” to “Halleluyah.”
But it is not clear why “Dear Rap” appears as the first track on Sarkology.
Thus in one sense we may regard this track as intro and in another sense, regard its internecine lyrical contents as speaking directly to the human condition. It therefore makes sense to look at the totality of Sarkology from the perspective of this presumed intro.
It is exactly what the absurdist writer and philosopher Albert Camus described in his book “The Myth of Sisyphus,” a radical situation far removed from existential nihilism.
Yet there also exists some underlying assumptions of pseudo-nihilism in “Dear Rap.” Here is one such line:
“I killed myself, so my wife is a widow.”
Sarkodie does not tell us why he killed himself in the first place, knowing full well that widowhood will be the natural outcome of his act.
Neither did he tell us whether he had children with the wife, although it is quite interesting how he killed himself, made the wife a widow, and still rapped about the entire episode.
Sarkodie, in this narrow sense, acted out the controversial story of Moses authoring his own obituary while still alive.
Perhaps Sarkodie killed his wife rather than himself. Because he sounds more like someone who is alive rather than dead.
Then the following line follows:
“You wanna be like me; spend the night on my pillow.”
Certainly since the dead is presumed not to be in possession of the instruments of sentience, consciousness, or awareness, how does Sarkodie expect the living to spend the night on his pillow?
We are aware that “spend the night on a pillow” possibly means introspection, thinking about one’s life, and so forth.
But it is also equally true that the dead simply cannot think—which is that the dead is incapable of cognition, mentation, or intellection.
A natural corollary of this assumption is the idea that cognition, mentation or intellection is possible in the netherworld and that Sarkodie may be actually speaking to the dead; that cognition, mentation or intellection is impossible in the netherworld in which he may be speaking to the living; or that his boastful pseudo-nihilistic effusions may be borne out of sheer fantasy.
Whatever the underlying reasons for his killing his wife, we are hereby compelled to contemplate whether Sarkodie is the Byronic hero or the wife, a juggernaut of a Byronic heroine—in this convoluted lyrical dramaturgy called “Dear Rap.”
Meanwhile the lyrical architecture of “Dear Rap” has a “mind” of its own, a “mind” in the throes of immanent turmoil. In other words he found himself in a tight prison of psychological turmoil, a scenario that philosophically approximates to Wole Soyinka’s prison memoir “The Man Died: Prison Notes.”
We see this enslaved “mind” being pursued by anonymous enemies, as Sarkodie mounted a pre-emptive or prophylactic move to neutralize them, as well as their insidious efforts possibly aimed at upstaging him:
“I’m about to release the beast so go gedem
“They wanna take me but please don’t let them
We are reminded of the mythological beasts in the Book of Revelation. These mythological beasts must be too much for his anonymous competitors in the netherworld of rap/hip hop.
Sarkodie would kill or chainsaw-massacre anybody in his path as he climbed to the top of the netherworld of hip hop/rap:
“Now I’m taking over everybody move back cos I’m heading to the top.”
Could his wife then have been a symbol of the anonymous competitors wanting to take him out? Did his wife stand in his path to the pinnacle of musical greatness? We do not know.
What we do know in fact is that the following diagnostic labels appositely describe that “mind” in immanent turmoil:
“Masons, don’t you ever call me a loser…
The words “midnight” and “darkness” capture the Eurocentric constructs of evil, wickedness, unenlightened or endarkened predispositions, death, melancholy, sadness, or mental obscurantism/obfuscation.
The concept of “darkness” therefore loses its Afrocentric rootedness of beauty and truth.
Instead, it is made to fall into a controversial line of perceptual or conceptual connation with the likes of Head of Medusa and Emily, both symbols of femininity.
Sarkodie would—interestingly yet ironically—have us believe that these mythical elements are beyond the conceptual or perceptual threshold of adnation. Let us just say it is a normative feeling nonetheless.
The lyrical presence of Leatherface, Freddy Krueger, chainsaw massacre, fresh blood, bone crusher, Jason (Voorhees)—murderous characters in comics and horror movies—reinforce these weird Eurocentric constructs, all of which may have incorporated into the lyrical “mind” of Sarkodie’s personality causing him to kill his wife.
Finally, could the same wife of a Byronic heroine have been negative influence on his music career, to merit her death, or rather his death in an abortive attempt to chainsaw-massacre his wife—“Dear Rap”?
He killed himself in order that “Dear Rap” will live!
Sarkodie’s complex lyrical ambigrams or enantiomers are sporadically difficult to unknot for wholesome digestion.
“Dear Rap” typifies a situational momentum of gender ambiguity, and although the lyrical signature of the song gives an impression of masculinity and phallocentrism, it does still manage to speak poignantly to the entrenched problem of gender inequality in the music industry.
“Dear Rap” is an autobiographical and biographical moral voice of the music industry insofar as how gender inequality undermines the music industry goes. The autobiographical moral voice speaks for the male in the industry, the biographical moral voice for the female in the same industry. This implies a beam splitter in the collective voice of the industry’s moral conscience.
Thus, killing himself and leaving behind a widow does give the impression that the fair sex will eventually overcome the problem of gender inequality in the music industry. The only problem is that the lyrical hyper-masculinity of “Dear Rap” emblematizes the Ellisonian invisibility of the female voice.
Even in death the male voice still dominates the discourse on gender relations. Yet we do not know whether the voice of “Dear Rap” is authentically male. However we will assign this subtle voice a male gender symbol because of the song’s phallocentric lyrical militancy. Let us just hope that his wife did not transform her widowhood into a powerful feigned voice of hyper-masculinity and militancy.
“Dear Rap” is a trope for the pursuit of spiritual and material well-being, hopefulness, strength, positive thinking and attitude, and hard work (industry) in the midst of grinding poverty, adversity, negative competitiveness, privation, and helplessness.
Having killed himself and lived to tell as well as to share his story of hard work and relative commercial and material successes with the world, that is, to tell the story of his ability to overcome the challenges of life and his personal contradictions and those of the larger society he once lived and still lives in, Sarkodie may be directly speaking to the resilience of the human spirit, the tenacity of the human will.
In effect “Dear Rap” is a Manichaean world, of antipodal situational tendencies. It is a strange world that says even in slumberous death and crushing adversity man has the inner resources to overcome these encumbrances borne out of arrested development.
This could be why he said on “Dear Rap” that when he was short of rap lyrics he will import or ship more from Cuba.
Why Cuba and not America? Some say America is rich only in material terms. Others also say Cuba is rich only in spiritual terms—resilience, tenacity.
On “Dear Rap,” for instance, Sarkodie alluded to his material success, of his material well-being, meaning that he could have wished to undertake a quest for spiritual—resilience, tenacity—in Cuba.
Herein lies a dilemma: Cuba is a largely atheistic polity with an underlying current of subdued Catholicism.
On the other hand if America is a mammoth hegemon, a lumbering problem in other words, then Cuba, a proportionate riposte to this mammoth hegemon, is worth appropriating for self-actualization.
Sarkodie’s collaboration with American rapper Ace Hood means he has not completely lost his emotional and intellectual attachment to America yet. Still, he chose America over Cuba by collaborating with an American. This contradiction is what “Dear Rap” fundamentally represents.
Falling in love with Leatherface, Freddy Krueger, Head of Medusa…while hating himself to the extent of committing suicide is the height of stupendous hypocrisy. This was also what Heathcliff did, by feigning his love for and eventually marrying Isabella Linton, just so down the line he could exact his sweet revenge on Edgar Linton who had married his childhood love, Catherine Earnshaw.
Thus, the complex “mind” of “Dear Rap” suffers the same paralyzing mental perturbations as Heathcliff’s. Sarkodie as the first-person singular pronoun comes across as that pontifical Eurocentric exceptionalism which is rather capable of Ptolemaic geocentrism, but not of Copernican heliocentrism.
This simmering immanent combustion is a normative feature of the human condition. However it takes a person with special gifts to tame it and bring it in line with his or her expectations expectation. The lyric poetry of “Dear Rap” speaks to this phenomenon of internal combustion in the immanent architecture of human exceptionalism.
Again, “Dear Rap” captures these internecine contradictions in a way Ayi Kwei Armah’s chichidodo bird represents (“The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born”):
“The chichidodo bird hates excrement with all its soul. But the chichidodo only feeds on maggots, and you know the maggots grow best inside the lavatory.”
This chichidodo bird called “Dear Rap” contains the following line:
The late rapper Tupac also went by the stage name “Makaveli,” a corruption of the last name of Niccoló, Machiavelli, author of “The Prince.” Tupac was named after the famous 18th-century Peruvian revolutionary Túpac Amaru, who was executed for leading an insurrection for Peruvian independence.
It is this reified independence from his paralyzing immanent internal combustion owing to his stiff competition with his imagined Machiavellian competitors, which eventually led Sarkodie to his uneventful suicide. Fundamentally, “Dear Rap” is a phenomenological approximation of Soyinkan “Prison Notes.” In the end Sarkodie through the chichidodo bird—that synesthetic lyric poetry called “Dear Rap”—gives us a healthy dose of pidgin, English, Latin, Asante-and Twi.
Is Sarkodie’s “Dear Rap” a eulogy for, or an obituary, of God?
We shall return with Part 2, the concluding segment!\
Source: Francis Kwarteng
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