Even though he has amassed exceptional success rapping in his native tongue of Twi, Okyeame Kwame has stated that if he had done his trade in English, his brand would have had a greater reach and effect.
He swiftly added, though, that he has no regrets about sticking to his mother tongue as a form of communication, despite the fact that it limited his audience, and that he has encouraged up-and-coming artists to give rapping in English another shot.
When asked how Ghanaian artistes could break through barriers, the 2009 VGMA Artiste of the Year answered that language was a crucial tool.
“Popular as Okyeame Kwame has become, if I’m able to deliver rap lines in English, coupled with the culture, tone and style, I know it will have a much bigger appreciation and appeal. If I deny this, then I’m not being truthful.
“However, the success of rapping in English doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I’m saying this because rappers are poets and must be creative with their words.
“My explanation is technical but the simplest form I can make people understand my point is that with rap, the artiste is considered the figure and he/she must be able communicate in a language that people understand.
“As a creative rapper, no matter how well-crafted my lines are, they will mean nothing when I perform to a US or UK audience. This is because they will not understand the Twi language and will not appreciate my craft, which is very key for a rapper,” he said.
Following Black Sherif’s global hit with Kwaku The Traveller, which was formally published on Wednesday, March 30, 2022, the topic regarding Ghanaian music breaking new ground gained traction in recent weeks.
Okyeame Kwame, on the other hand, stated that the global feats of a rapper and a vocalist were not the same.
“As I said earlier, a Ghanaian rapper who wants to make worldwide gains will certainly need to infuse the English language in his works but the singer may not need that.
Why do I say this? We have the likes of Salif Keita and Angelique Kidjo who are globally successful but don’t sing in their local languages.
Singers give a certain rhythmic effect which is understood by the mind because music is already universal.
“Singers elicit response through their emotions that listeners connect to so I don’t necessarily have to understand what Salif Keita or Angelique Kidjo is singing.
“I can just connect to the voice and emotions on display, but the rapper doesn’t have that luxury since his craft has to be appreciated by the words and what he is communicating as a poet and not emotions, voice or rhythm,” he said.
The barriers that Black Sherif’s Kwaku The Traveller is breaking may possibly be interpreted by Okyeame Kwame’s arguments.
Kwaku The Traveller has been more popular than Black Sherif’s First and Second Sermons, which were published last year and were local blockbusters.
The song reached number 55 on Apple Music’s global Top 100 tracks in the first week of release and was listened a million times on Boomplay and Audiomack separately, a feat attributed to his rapping in English by many.
Even while Okyeame Kwame agrees, he also points out that Black Sherif received international prominence as a young artist thanks to his partnership with Nigeria’s Burna Boy.
Despite this, he stated that Black Sherif’s talent, particularly his distinct voice, had been valuable tools in his rapid ascension.
“As an up-and-coming artiste, many people will always watch out for what he has but you can’t deny that Black Sheriff has a unique voice that sets him apart from many rappers,” he added.