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BLACK SHERIF

Artist

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Now that Ghana's drill scene has gained ground, it is also providing room for innovation. Its practitioners are not merely appropriating the Western style, but also marinating it in '60s highlife melody. The resultant sound is a golden jumble that is broadening the genre's acceptance in the country and beyond. While he is behind a number of sleeping hits, it is the "First Sermon" freestyle, a raw and fearless street spiel, that has blasted him to the status of a viral sensation. Hence, whenever his career is discussed in the future, the conversation will circle back to that moment.

 

Black Sherif knows this and has promptly issued "Second Sermon", which further drills down to the bedrock of "First Sermon". Like its predecessor, this new offering, produced by Ghanaian Stallion, is ferried in aching desire and rebellious glamour. It absorbs the confidence of "First Sermon", celebrating street hustle or "trapping", marijuana fellowships and the power of self-motivation. The attendant visuals for both songs feature a machete-wielding associate, which in these parts is an indelible image that sums up a ghetto fact: self-determination and violence are almost always mutually inclusive. “This is a message I'm sending to my people at home,” Black Sherif says. “This is me narrating scenes and describing the lifestyles of boys on the streets. It took me so much courage to voice this out, but this is our truth. I don‟t speak for myself only. God bless every trying youth.”

 

His current path is not how he was brought up, the singer concedes, but the question about survival could be one's biggest moral test. He confesses to “doing so many bad things”. When poverty is at play, morality is likely to come second. And so, he embraces his waywardness as his choice, and rather than burdening his family with his struggles, he would “keep it all to myself.” He sings in the chorus: “Kweku Frimpong di asem beba” (the ramifications of this perilous path are nothing short of trouble). Drill's thrill hinges largely on youthful vigour, with little emphasis on actual sonics. It is why most songs are rendered in low registers. Black Sherif takes this a notch higher, both in his choice of key and his electric vocal runs, which you would expect in genres like R&B or soul. By broaching stories of the street on both sermons, Black Sherif, self-styled leader of Sad Boys Country, has accepted a delicate cultural responsibility. So far, he's doing a terrific job.

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