It’s been over a year now, but the single that paved the way for M.anifest’s hugely popular #NowhereCool album had the distinct Drake flavour to it.
It would seem rather ironic since it is Sarkodie who seems to have become the Drake of the Ghana music industry. He hops onto any single like a sloth on a sleep pill and makes it an instant hit. Like Culartblog pointed in the album review of Highest, it seemed the only way for him to remain relevant while he pursued more management-styled projects. His SarkCess record label has an amazing collection of stars and budding youngsters. Even then, he managed to put out hits like #RNS and Gboza. All one had to do was feature Sark to cough onto your joint and the record became an overnight hit. Yeah, he is big like that.
Despite his absence on the scene last year, M.anifest’s blatant attack on Sark was a bold move, but not unexpected. Hip hop is growing to become the most popular genre in Ghana, and the Sark-M.anifest beef was a logical consequence of our growing music industry.
On one episode of the vastly popular and educational HiphopDX YouTube channel, Justin Hunte (@TheCompanyMan) points to the single trademark of Drake’s successful diss records: they were all chart singles on the Billboard. That’s right, Drake dissed you so bad the record became a hit. He put work into beats and studio work to make it pop. While others were busy working line by line and blaming him for using ghostwriters, Drake was raking in the popularity. And if you have the army like Drake has amassed thanks to his song style, it is easy to claim victory on the internet. In fact, Drake’s Back to Back was even nominated for a Grammys.
Drake himself said, “First of all, I made sure it would run in the club because that’s more painful than anything. As opposed to just being on a blog, I wanted to be on a record that you would have to stand around and hear every night for months.”
When Mani dropped #godMC, it quickly became a hit. Not least because it was a slight departure from what he used to create. Don’t get it wrong. The same pun on words was still there. For example, was there a reference to Stonebwoy? How did he come by, “Don’t measure your pen to mine, you pantomime, and asinine!” He sang “They sipping amarula, me I kick it with a cougar,” to jab Sarkodie’s now infamous “Irish Cream” line at the 2012 BET cypher.
The intro was a popular rendition of Lilwin’s “I don’t think madness” meme. What it did was make the listener sit down and listen to how it would pan out. And bold and daring, M.anifest leaps into Fallujah, smoking a joint of Budha while singing hallelujah. That is sick on different levels.
Whether or not he took a bite off of another rapper’s song is irrelevant. Sampling, though controversial, is part of the game.
Sarkodie returned with his own hard-hitting Kanta. He mocked M.anifest’s clothes and poked fun at his use of big English. The only sin he committed, if at all, was mentioning GTP in the line about M.anifest reverting to Afrocentric clothes because he was broke. Look at it however you want, but it was a well-timed jab M.anifest could never have escaped.
Whoever won the feud depends on which side of the divide you sit on. SarkNation will forever hold their hero on lofty shoulders for his bullish, life-experience rap style. Manifans troupe to god MC because they want a departure from the normal braggadocious rap. Besides, you can take M.anifest’s reason for doing god MC with a grain of sea salt.
In one breadth, he wasn’t pleased with Sark using his tagline to finish off his BOSSY track that threw subliminal at every other rapper, but then he went on to finish his own diss track by referencing Shatta Wale: “I dey go see Shatta for some Mahama Paper.” The truth is Sark is the biggest star in Ghana. To make yourself relevant, you have to hit out at the big fish. Gemini said it in reference to Irish Cream line by Sark. 50 Cent made his name jabbing Ja Rule.
That said, it can’t be denied that M.anifest was the bigger winner of the two. Now that is not to say he won the rap battle; that is still up for debate. Rather, it could be said that he benefited the most by throwing his most daring track against the monster-rapper that was Sarkodie. Apart from the ratings, he won himself Rapper of the Year at VGMA 2017, and god MC also won hip hop song of the year at the same event. The song won a similar category at the Ghana Music Awards UK.
Whatever remains of the year, we are sure to enjoy more subliminals coming from each rapper’s camp. Sarkodie’s Highest album is already filled with such references, if you believe the critics, but it remains to be seen, years from now, whether or not their history will affect their relationship. We live to see.