Written by: Joseph “Aqweci” Ofori
This is a time I’ve been waiting for, on a lowkey. As I always say rap is a sport and it’s healthy to have a proper lyrical war like this. On my way to type this, 3 people asked me what is happening in the GH music scene, so I suppose there’s a significant percentage of people who are so off social media, hence have no idea of what’s going on.
On June 21, 2016 Sarkodie released a song he had being promoting for a couple of weeks, “Bossy”. On the song, the “Illuminati” hitmaker made some statements that didn’t go down well with other rap fellows and Hip-Hop critics…
“Best emcees right from the top || Yeah them be best cause they write from the heart || B.I.G, Jay Z to Nas || It’s all about the emotions bro, fuck the bars!”.
“ɔmose Sarkodie ndroppe punches || I can do it really but the point is wo rappe na wo punche pii a joe wo sounde immature”.
The public directed the line “I’m a king but I don’t feel I gotta wear crown” as a direct shot to E.L (because E.L said he’s the King Without a Crown).
He ended the song with “M.anifest mesrɛ wo lemme just, use your M dor dor dor te dot to end this verse”.
On the last day of June 2016, M.anifest dropped an Afro-Trap song titled “god MC”, which had a lot of subliminals. The Hip-Hop enthusiasts and general public upon analyzing the song called it ‘blows’ to Sarkodie.
“god MC” is filled with heavy lyricism possesses lines like…
“Don’t measure your pen with mines, you pantomime and asinine || And you wanna be king? Get your ass in line”.
“These boys copying the west looking a mess”.
“Even my nonfa back then had sense in it || Difference between me and them? you’re sensing it”.
“Dem dey claim pure gold but dem be copper || Don’t compare a name dropper to a showstopper like me”.
“If you talk funny and think you’ll go scott free || Then travel safe my guy, godspeed”.
The lines above can be referred to as subliminals to Sark, meanwhile the line “Go to the market, buy yourself manners || Don’t use my name in vain, that’s just for starters” make it much clearer. M Dot also ended his verse with “My guy Obidi, let me return the favour || You know what time it is, later is greater”.
Social media got buzzing in response to how hard the “Forget Dem” hitmaker went on Sarkodie. Apparently, Sark didn’t take it lightly and without a hint, he stepped into the booth 3 days later like a typical 90’s emcee, and gave us “Kanta” which shook the GH music industry.
Into the 2nd verse of the song, he dropped in a haywire but quite humorous and teasing line “Obi bɛ disse me a na ɛnyɛ rapper a ɔde GTP ntoma pam kaba”. He continued with lines like…
“I gave you the highest retweets”.
“Only time you sound good is when you rap on your own || Ma feature wo twice, all you dey claim say you not in your zone”.
“Ei! akoa wei ne brɔfo akɛseɛ || Fa kɔ kɔ lecture wɔ Legon”.
“How can I rap to the world || Whiles you, you dey rap to your friends”.
The above listed lines and a lot others are clear disses to M.anifest. He intentionally added a minute of silence after the song, and you know what that signifies, right?
Before all this, M.anifest had been throwing similar subliminals, like on his feature on Coptic’s “Keep Shining”, and a tweet after about 2 months Sarkodie had sold out Apollo stating “Apollo no be why wanna eye mek red”. Sarkodie had ignored all these for long and this time he decided to respond with a ‘bark’!
Tell the sleepyheads mek dem go bed
Apollo no be why wanna eye mek red
— M.anifest (@manifestive) October 10, 2015
Now that the lyrical war has started, I humbly take the stage to dissect the songs. Now, this is a battle between 2 local rappers though, but they’re quite different. I shall not mince words here. M.anifest spits bars for the elite minds. His bars are so intellect, his diction is rich, in that you may have to open a dictionary to look up the meanings of what he says. His literary schemes and lyrical prowess are at its peak.
I personally fell in love with his album APAE because of all these factors. M Dot not being a complete rapper, he’s far from excellence in rap delivery. He switches a repetitive pattern of styles that makes it boring to listen to him as time ticks. He’s not the type to speed up his flow in a tongue-twisting mode, but will let the listener cherish the lyrics he delivers. On “god MC” he turns a lyrical beast. It’ll take a couple of pages to explain his lines, but if you’re into this and really want to know then stay with me as I decipher the main bars relevant to the topic.
“Don’t measure your pen with mines, you pantomime and asinine”
Pantomime refers to a dramatic entertainment, originating in Roman mime, in which performers express meaning through gestures accompanied by music.
Asinine simply means a foolish person.
M.anifest warns stupid personalities not to compare themselves to his rap abilities.
“Some of my peers spineless they are muppets”
Spineless here means weak and purposeless. A muppet is an incompetent or foolish person.
Thus, he calls rappers with weak rap abilities incompetent.
Also, there’s a show called Muppets in which its cast is made of puppets. Puppets are spineless, making them weak.
“You no be star, no be star, you’re a comet at best”
Now, comets don’t shine on their own like how a star does; it rather reflects the light of the sun. Comets are very small and cold as well. A star is the direct opposite of comet.
Sarkodie is known to be a fan of foreign outfits. Others call him a copycat of Kanye West, because he usually dresses like Ye. Thus M.anifest affirms that. If you love in-depth simplification, one can also say Sarkodie copies the worst (west), making him look like a mess.
“Go to the market, buy yourself manners || Don’t use my name in vain, that’s just for starters”
He warns Sarkodie (and others) not to use his name without a called purpose.
“Progress or regress? Now who you calling sucker? || When the boss is around who can you boss around?”
Sarkodie calls himself a boss always, and he affirms that on “Bossy”; M.anifest disagrees, calling himself the real boss.
“Even my nonfa back then had sense in it”
Critics have been saying Sark spits a lot of whack lines. M.anifest states, the lyrics he spewed as an upcomer made more meaning than what he hears from other rappers, and that distinguishes him from them.
“The hype machine mean, but it won’t imprison us”. Thus, he won’t allow current hype influence him (probably into selling out).
M.anifest employs Greek mythology here. The Titans mentioned here comprises of the great gods, of which Medusa is part. M.anifest referring to himself as a god MC dines with gods, and what’s more surprising? He had dinner with Medusa. Now, anyone who gazes in Medusa’s face transforms into a stone, but because he’s more powerful (a ruler), he didn’t.
We can run through all the lines and decipher it, but I think these are most relevant to our discussion.
M.anifest nailed it for real! Deep poetry and lyricism exhibited. A lot of people may skim through it without getting the real meaning of the bars. However, he never mentioned anybody’s name, although it can be clearly referred as fired shots to Sark. He avoided pulling of legs, and dissing of physical appearance (he just shared his opinion about Sark’s choice of dressing).
Sarkodie, on the other hand is not the type to deliver intricate bars; he delivers it in raw form. His delivery is impeccable and he knows how to win masses’ appeal. He makes his songs very relatable; from rap enthusiasts to feeble minds. On his “Kanta”, he commenced the diss with “Obi bɛ disse me a na ɛnyɛ rapper ɔde GTP ntoma pam kaba”. Thus M.anifest has branded himself with African prints. Sarkodie teases his outfits as female dress “kaba”.
“Nansa yi sɛ boys nni swag na sɛ ntaade no nnɔɔso a ɔmo claimie Afrocentric”.
Sark states; people who lack fashion sense and expensive wears refer to themselves as Afrocentric (thus anything/person that regards African culture as outstanding and superb). You can also look it from the angle that if one lacks swag and enough outfits, they’d be left with nothing to wear than African prints. Sark discredits whatever M.anifest stands for, hence he talks down on his style of dressing.
In my humble opinion, I don’t see Sark’s statement to be valid. Any proud African would love to promote our culture by putting on African wear; that doesn’t mean he/she is poor.
“Joo na sɛ beef na wopɛ a, get your numbers up nyɛ sa a mɛ serve wo fish”
He says, if M.anifest wants to grudge, he has to better up, else he (Sark) shall wound him. Beef is more costly than fish (considering and comparing quantity). Hence, literally, Sark is saying that if M.anifest wants a beef he has to add some money up, else he may end up getting a cheaper alternative, thus fish.
“Smart move, ɔbɛ disse Obidi de apromotie album”
M.anifest is promoting his upcoming album “No Where Cool”. Sark describes his “god MC” outcome as a strategy of getting attention to sell the project.
“Mea no me feeli wo flow no nso ka nokorɛ wo ndwom nni kurom tesɛ Atom”.
Sarkodie admits he admires M.anifest’s flow of rap, but his songs are not major hits like how Atom’s “Yewɔ Krom” has faded out of the music scene.
“Me n-wastie me flow on a new beat ɛndisse and pay for production”
Sarkodie recorded “Kanta” as a cover of Desiigner’s “Panda” which is publicly a free beat. He states he won’t waste his money to pay for a beat just to diss, probably like Amet did.
“See, I helped you for free but ɛfiri nnɛ korɔ no we [will] be working pro bono”.
Sark means to say he featured verses on him & M.anifest’s collaborations without charging, but this time he’ll do it pro bono. Pro bono means offering a service without charge. So what does Sarkodie mean? The line doesn’t match up and needs some correction or clarification.
Sark goes on and on, sometimes repeating similar lines, but his shots went into the target. Although he also mentioned no names, it’s easy to identify who these shots are to. As furious as he sounded, he had energetic flow and his delivery was ‘on fleek’ as always. He admitted M.anifest is a good rapper and has great command over the English language, ruling out the point people may make about bitterness.
He improved on lyricism, at least you can make double meanings out of a couple of lines this time. Obidi lays down what he sees as reality on the ground; thus M.anifest dissing to promote his album, giving M.anifest the highest RTs, being ungrateful after Sark offered him 2 free features, giving him mileage, calling M.anifest’s fans as fans of his music too, and more. Sarkodie basically is saying he tried to be nice to him, rather he repays him with a diss, and that’s not so cool.
His flaws however are the ones listed above and his last line “Me hia girl, I need peace, I wanna hide (Hyde)”, which is a simple wordplay but very weak.
The mistake I realize most people are making is they’re judging based on limited criteria (PS: there’s no official criteria for this judgment), thus lyrical schemes, but if we all accept that both songs are diss songs, then all aspects of judging a rap beef [song] should be considered, and they involve rap elements, thus rhyme schemes, lyrical prowess, delivery, literary techniques, and rhythm, including other factors that spice up a diss song such as aggression and personal punches.
Not to beat about the bush, M.anifest wins in lyrical prowess and literary techniques. Also, his diction & vocabulary were peerless. Not to forget, he had a lot of broad punches, but a couple of personal punches. None of them stood out when it comes to rhyme schemes, because both heavily utilized perfect terminal rhymes. On the flipside, Sarkodie took delivery, rhythm, aggression and he spat a wholesome of personal punches which will bruise M Dot. Personals refer to personal & accurate information about the opponent; hurtful truths that cut deep.
It’s necessary to know that in a rap competition, no matter what, you have to win the crowd. Me being subjective, not allowing the numeral imbalance of Sark Nation and M.anifans to crowd my judgments, it’s clear that Sark won the crowd. So now, who’s your bet on? M.anifest or Sarkodie? Let us know in the comments session [including your opinions].