Sarkodie’s Fiery Critique of Major Record Labels Shakes Hennessy South Africa Cypher 2024

by Louisa Afful
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In a momentous display of lyrical prowess at the Hennessy South Africa Cypher 2024, Ghanaian rap legend Sarkodie unleashed a scathing critique of the dominance of major record labels in the African music industry. Joined by a lineup of top-tier African rappers including Maglera Doe Boy (South Africa), Didi B (Ivory Coast), Young Lunya (Tanzania), Khaligraph Jones (Kenya), and Ladipoe (Nigeria), Sarkodie’s verse resonated with raw authenticity and biting insight.

Amidst an electrified atmosphere, Sarkodie articulated his journey from humble beginnings to global acclaim, all while asserting his unwavering commitment to independence from record labels. “I did this thing myself, avoiding entanglements with labels who penned contracts thicker than a thousand pages,” he declared, voicing his discontent with the restrictions and confines often imposed on artists.

Highlighting the bureaucratic hurdles that hinder artist collaborations under label constraints, Sarkodie lamented the shift in dynamics within the music industry. “It’s baffling how the game has changed. Once, a call to a friend secured a verse; now, negotiations and royalties must precede every release,” he reflected, underscoring the complexities and compromises faced by artists under label agreements.

However, Sarkodie acknowledged the pivotal role played by major labels in amplifying African music on the global stage. “I can’t discredit their impact; their strategies have opened doors for African music worldwide,” he acknowledged, balancing his critique with a nod to the achievements facilitated by these entities.Yet, Sarkodie didn’t mince words in drawing parallels between the actions of major labels and those of manipulative actors. “I now see their tactics clearly, akin to those of fraudsters who lure with wealth only to confine you like in a cage,” he boldly asserted, framing his critique within the broader context of artistic freedom and integrity.

In a cypher renowned for its cultural resonance and artistic depth, Sarkodie’s poignant critique reverberated beyond the stage, sparking conversations about the evolving landscape of African music and the role of autonomy in artistic expression. His impassioned stance serves as a testament to his influence as a veteran in the industry and his commitment to challenging the status quo for the betterment of future generations of artists.


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