In the freestyle rap titled “No Big Deal,” Nasty C claims that Sarkodie had snubbed him and refused him a handshake while he was still an up-and-coming artiste…
By Adedamola Jones Adedayo
Because Hip-Hop has a rich history of feuds amongst its practitioners, it is a known tradition for rappers to use diss tracks to call out one another. Often, these moments, during which the feuding rappers may record and hurl uncouth words at each other, are done for promotion’s sake and to gain more media influence; on other occasions, though, the beefs are borne out of real bad blood and extant grudges between the concerned. There have even been really costly feuds, such as the 90s TuPac Shakur-Notorious B.I.G. beef that snowballed into a lethal affair.
Nasty C (South Africa) and Sarkodie (Ghana), two of the biggest Hip-Hop acts in Africa, have recently sparked media uproar, as it is believed that both rappers are feuding. Fans are already taking sides, and this feud, although superficially unpromising, could gain momentum for a few more days on social media before vanishing.
It is not the first time that African Hip-Hop connoisseurs will be clashing, too, and sometimes the clashes have swerved into the mainstream music market. In January 2020, after Kenya’s Khaligraph Jones outsmarted Nigeria’s Blaqbonez to win the Best Hip-Hop Act award at the Soundcity MVP Awards, he released a diss track titled “Best Rapper in Nigeria.
“Blaqbonez responded the following day with the hit, “Green Blaq Green.” A year after, both rappers were pictured together in a studio in Kenya. Tensions have dissipated since then, as they now appear to be in each other’s good books.
Another feud was between Nigeria’s Burna Boy, and South African rapper, AKA. In July, 2019, after Nigeria defeated South Africa at the year’s edition of the African Cup of Nations in Egypt, AKA tweeted angrily, and he was later bashed by another Nigerian artiste, YCee, who accused the South African of xenophobia.
Burna Boy joined the online brawl, called AKA “retarded,” and advised the rapper to always have his security around. Although it seemed the Twitter episode heralded was a meltdown in their relationship, AKA has since downplayed the fallout, and in September, 2022 suggested he and Burna Boy were on a conciliatory note.
Born Nsikayesizwe David Junior Ngcobo to the Zulu tribe in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nasty C has witnessed tremendous progress in his career from his teenage years. At age 15, he released a debut mixtape, One Kid, A Thousand Coffins, and went on to produce his first extended play, C L.A.M.E., two years later. This was followed by his sophomore mixtape, Price City in 2015, and by December that year, he became the youngest recipient of an award category at the South African Hip Hop Awards. He has also released studio albums, Bad Hair (2016), Strings and Bling (2018) and Zulu Man with Some Power (2020) as well as two more mixtapes and another EP.
Often touted as Ghana’s most decorated rapper and one of the greatest African rappers of all time, Michael Owusu Addo, known as Sarkodie, has been credited with the promotion of the Azonto dance in Ghana. Having been in the business of rap since childhood and rapping mostly in his native Twi tongue, he hit the mainstream in 2010.
His prodigious talent has translated into the accumulation of accolades, which includes an acclaimed 108 awards from 195 nominations. Still enjoying an illustrious career, some of his prominent hits (in no particular order) are “I’m in Love With You” (produced in 2010), “Azonto Fiesta” ft. Appietus & Kesse, “When I Grow Up” ft. Ikechukwu (produced in 2012), “Illuminati,” “Original,” “Rap Attack” ft. Vector, “Special Someone” ft. Burna Boy & AKA, etc.
Now, here’s what we know about the current feud. In November, 2022, Nasty C recorded a diss track on Metro FM in which he recounts having a nasty experience the first time he met Sarkodie. In the freestyle rap titled “No Big Deal,” Nasty C claims that Sarkodie had snubbed him and refused him a handshake while he was still an up-and-coming artiste. He also mentions the promise he made to himself at that time not to collaborate with the Ghanaian once he became a big name in the industry.
“See this the best way I know how to get shit out of my chest/ I was just a disappointed fan, it’s nothing more or less/ But now I’m over that shit and he’s got all my respect,” raps Nasty C, apparently suing for amity. Further into the track, the SMA rapper unburdens his emotions, though with benevolent caution, and throws shades at compatriot and rapper, A-Reece, saying he wasn’t convinced about any animosity between them.
He chooses to opt out, “I don’t even know why we beefing, dawg, but it’s up again/ I’m down to go either way at this point, I’ll leave it up for him”. But the case with A-Reece is a story for another day. Apparently, Nasty C has other complaints to make, but he will keep them for another moment.
In response to Nasty C’s revelation, Sarkodie released “Landlord” on 31st December 2022. This time around, he raps predominantly in English, and steps in with the senior-man mentality: “I started rapping when all you niggas/were stuck in the womb.” Wearing an aura of superciliousness and appearing to trumpet his greatness, he compares his response to Nasty C as “…Jay responding to Lil Durk.”
It’s a covert way of deriding Nasty C’s calling-out in the first place and reminding that he is miles ahead, probably in experience and artistic longevity, of the bars-spitting Zulu prodigy. But the older maestro, playing nobility in the run, reserves a moment for an apology before rounding off the track. Sarkodie takes it cool, but he would not want to entertain any more disrespect from younger rappers.
However, when asked on Metro TV Ghana about the intentionality of the hit released on the eve of New Year’s Day, Sarkodie responds, “my people said we should just get it out in a way and start on a clean sheet.” He then declines to provide any further information when queried on the supposed beef with Nasty C. Sarkodie’s reluctance to lend meat to the discussion could mean that the rap maestro is burying the hatchet. Earlier, Nasty C had shown similar peacemaking character and even had to remind fans that he was only doing that to get “some shit” off his mind.
Things already seem bright, as it appears there would be no escalation. It is doubtful that Nasty C would respond to Sarkodie. If at all he does, some people would begin to take it as another ruse destined for transient media attention. Other people, such as me, would then consider it ‘disrespect’ to the man with the most awards in African Hip-Hop/rap history. Unless this happens, which I do not envisage, the omen is good.
Perhaps, with the year 2023 in full swing, we might witness a collaboration between the Ghanaian and the South African. It would probably be symbolic: a GOAT conferring legitimacy on another budding GOAT. It would also be a toast to future inter-regional and cross-cultural fusions of Hip-Hop elements in Africa.
Adedamola Jones Adedayo is a teacher, writer, and literary arts & popular culture critic. He is particularly interested in African writings, films and music. Reach him at email@example.com.On Facebook, he is Adedamola Jones Adedayo, on Instagram @adedamolajonesadedayo, and on Twitter @AdedamolaAdeda4.