PAM met with rising global superstar Black Sherif in Accra to talk about his career in music, Burna Boy linkup, trap-highlife blend and what motivates him as an artist.
Black Sherif is a rapper originally from Konongo on the outskirts of Kumasi who has taken the world by storm. Using an original blend of trap, drill, and the Ghanaian heritage of highlife, Mohammed Ismail Sherif Kwaku Frimpong aka Blacko aka Kwaku Frimpong has made a mark on the scene with a distinct voice and taste for hits. Since 2020 Black Sherif has been releasing a string of singles that weaved in and out of different lanes; like on Blacko’s 2021 single “Ankonam” which he describes as a “soul trap highlife blend”. However, it was with the release of First and Second Sermon in May 2021 that saw the artist take on a new level of notoriety at home and abroad. A welcome surprise because, as Blacko explains, these tracks were a series of freestyles that came out without much thought or planning. “There were so many mistakes in that,” Black Sherif laughs, “we just mixed it and dropped it.” Though it’s perhaps this raw and personal quality that makes the tracks so appealing. Two months after “First Sermon” comes “Second Sermon” and Black Sherif has totally found his voice, attracting the attention of the African Giant, Burna Boy, for a remix treatment and an invitation to Lagos to shoot a music video. It was hard to imagine a follow-up to this massive success, but Black Sherif managed to top expectations with his single “Kwaku the Traveller” and the now iconic lyric, “Of course I fucked up. Who never fuck up hands in the air. No hands?” Black Sherif has officially settled any question on the reality of the hype and is now doing his own remix tour, collaborating with Darkoo on “Always”, Arrdee on “Come & Go” and most recently “GIDI GIDI” with Ghanaian socialite Smallgod (who also invited Sherif on the single “Holy F4k”) and American rapper Tory Lanez.
While traveling to Ghana, passing by Cape Coast and Kumasi, the PAM team hit up Black Sherif to sit down and have a conversation about his life and all things music. Sherif hosted the team at one of his friends’ newly acquired night clubs in the fashionable Accra district, East Legon. There, Black Sherif told us about the struggles where he grew up in a Zongo neighborhood of Konongo where kids look for aluminum scraps for their daily bread. He also references his old trap inspirations like Migos for a surprising insight into his own brand of Ghanaian drill. And, of course, a quick shoutout to the Kumerica scene via Jay Bahd that is paving their own way and showing others in Ghana how to get their own. Not to mention references to the Ghanaian highlife legends like Amakye Dede who Black Sherif shouts out in the track “Assignment” with KiddBlack. In fact, the PAM team went digging in the Accra markets and found a Kose Kose compilation to offer as a gift during the talk. Other subjects include Black Sherif’s work with Burna Boy, his encounter with Kendrick Lamar in Accra, the essence behind his most iconic tracks, the multi-dimensionality of his different personas and most importantly the reason why he does it all. “I share my experiences about life” he explains, “for the people who are listening to me, the kids who look up to me… That’s why I do music.”
Listen to Black Sherif’s latest single “GIDI GIDI” in our Pan African Rap playlist.