How 20-year-old Black Sherif became Ghana’s Breakout Star of 2022

Elikem M. Aflakpui December 10, 2022

Several music acts have put Ghana on the map from time immemorial. Through the various stages of the evolution of music from the West African country, different artistes have represented the voice of the country to the world when it comes to music as an export commodity. Notable mentions through different decades include the Kumasi Trio, E. T. Mensah, Ebo Taylor, King Bruce, Jerry Hansen, Osibisa, George Darko, Reggie Rockstone and Sarkodie to mention a few. 

At present, the act creating a buzz around the world with music from Ghana is Black Sherif. Since gaining popularity through his hit song “First Sermon” in May 2021, the 20-year-old singer and rapper has caught the attention of several global acts including Burna Boy, DJ Khaled, Timberland, Arrdee and Darkoo. The most recent global music icon to attest to the genius of Konongo-born artiste’s craft is Akon. In an interview on BBC Radio 1Xtra, the CEO of Konvict Music described Blacko as the biggest export from Africa to the rest of the world.

In 2021, Black Sherif’s choruses and hooks were some of the most shared globally. Snippets of his songs topped viral sound on TikTok, Shazam and Instagram reels. In today’s music dispensation, that counts as a measure of success.

Born and raised in Konongo in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, the rapper whose birthname is Mohammed Ismail Sharif, got interested in music while attending senior high school at Kumasi Academy. His first foray into music started in 2019 but his light was not to shine until 2021 when his songs “First Sermon” and “Second Sermon” released in May and July of that year become instant hits. The two songs became the fastest two songs to reach 1 million streams on Boomplay that year.

How 20-year-old Black Sherif became Ghana's Breakout Star of 2022
Black Sherif/Instagram

Jason Frimpong, a writer for the Complex UK, describes Black Sherif’s music: “There’s a jumpy, rhythmic bounce to Sherif’s lyricism, taking full advantage of the seesaw-like, high-and-low pitch variations of Ghana’s dialect and expression. He then marries this with well-produced, club-friendly yet gritty drill production. Though much of his lyrics are in his native tongue of Twi, the fire and rawness of his rap technique tears down any perceived language barrier, which many have tried to do but have fallen short”.

Sherif’s music style is a blend of highlife, reggae, and hip-hop, especially UK drill. His music cannot be boxed into a specific genre influenced by this thought that “Our generation doesn’t really care about genres… the music simply has to make sense”. He takes inspiration from his upbringing and experiences while growing up to write his songs. Despite the unclear labelling of his style of music, one irrefutable way to describe his music so far is inspirational.

Sherif’s story is written in stars. Since his breakout in 2021 and his debut spectacular performance of his single, “Kwaku, The Traveller” at the 2022 3Music Awards, the world cannot have enough of spell-bounding music. His fame has spread far and wild with his songs topping charts in many countries and various music streaming platforms.

Black Sherif won four out of five award nominations at the 2022 3Music Awards. He also won Best New Artiste and Best Hip-Hop Song at the 2022 Ghana Music Awards. He was also adjudged the Boomplay Breakthrough Act of the Year. 

In October this year, Black Sherif released his debut album, “The Villain I Never Was”. Within weeks, the album topped charts in Ghana and Nigeria and debuted at Number 12 on Billboard’s World Album Charts. He has also collaborated on projects with some of Africa’s A-List musicians including Burna Boy and with UK Rapper, Arrdee.

Black Sherif’s story resonates with many people (mostly African youths). It is a story of hope, hard work, liberation, creativity and limitlessness. He is on course to achieve an even greater impact. At this point, the world is Blacko’s oyster. The journey continues for Kweku the Traveller! 

Last Edited by:Sandra Appiah Updated: December 13, 2022


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