Sarkodie, 33, is one of the most successful African rappers, the first Ghanaian to win the BET Award for Best International Act: Africa, and the winner of the Vodafone Ghana Music Award 2019 for Artiste of the Decade.
His albums include Makye, Rapperholic, Sarkology, Mary and No Pressure.
What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
To be a doctor. I wanted to help people.
Private school or state school? University or straight into work?
Junior and senior high school back home in Ghana. Then a degree in graphic design at IPMC [College of Technology]. In Africa, entertainment is seen as more of a hobby than a profession, so that’s why I studied graphic design. But I always felt it was going to be very hard for me to sit in an office — I like to move. Music wasn’t part of the plan. But I had a very dark time when I was a child — I lived with someone who was a very bad person. That made me very reserved. Then I fell in love with rap. I channelled my energy into writing music. It was like therapy. I started doing rap battles and I was beating everyone I challenged. That made me feel I could do music.
Who was or still is your mentor?
Different people for different inspiration. Obrafour, this legend back home in Ghana who raps in Twi, our native language. And beyond just music, Jay-Z. His blueprint is what I’m following. I don’t need to meet him. Him winning guides me and shows me how I can stretch this.
How physically fit are you?
Left to myself, I wouldn’t do too much, but I have to be fit — I’m on stage at least two hours. I go to the gym because I have to.
Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?
Ambition. A lot of people who have zero talent are making it way bigger than people with serious talent. It’s what you put your mind to.
How politically committed are you?
I don’t care about political parties — I care about my country and about putting people first. That’s why I sometimes get tied up in politics. Honestly, truthfully, I want everybody to be OK. I want our hospitals to work, I want our roads to work, I want our systems to work. I get worried and I vent about it.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
The power to change people’s situations for the better.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
In what place are you happiest?
At home with my wife and my kids. I can let everything go and be honestly happy.
What ambitions do you still have?
I want to give back to the entertainment industry that made me Sarkodie. I want to change a lot of things for the generations to come — I want them to have smooth sailing. That’s my top box to tick.
What drives you on?
In my job, the feedback from the fans. I feel I have people who care about me, people who love me. Not to brag, but I have one of the biggest fan bases — I’m like a lifestyle to them, this isn’t just about me. As a person, I will never quit until I’m dead — I can’t let go. I don’t know where I got that from, but it’s who I am.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
My family: my daughter, my son, my wife. Being able to provide for my family. That’s priceless.
What do you find most irritating in other people?
Negative energy — people who want to kill the whole vibe. I can’t deal with that.
If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?
“I can’t wait to meet you!”
Which object that you’ve lost do you wish you still had?
There’s nothing coming to me for this question.
What is the greatest challenge of our time?
We are selfish. We are in a situation where everybody’s trying to shield what they have. The challenge is to open up and factor other people in as well. The bigger picture is: we all have to survive.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
It could make sense, but with no serious proof, I honestly don’t know.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
9.99. Nothing is perfect.
Sarkodie’s new album “No Pressure” is out now