The Black Sherif saga continues with Take Care of Yourself Blacko, an introspective pair of singles, “YAYA” and “Simmer Down,” out today.
The documentary follows the 21-year-old as he navigates the harsh streets of fame while remaining loyal to himself. While “YAYA” is a highlife, soul, and drilled infused hymn about retaining a winning attitude and training patience to downplay opposition, “Simmer Down” is a highlife, soul, and drilled infused anthem about keeping a winning mentality and practicing patience to downplay resistance.
The compositions were teased to fans during his victory speech for “Artiste of the Year” at the 24th Vodafone Ghana Music Awards in Accra by his two in-house collaborators, Samsney and Joker Nharnah.
Since the release of his debut album, The Villain I Never Was, last year, Black Sherif has cemented his position as one of Africa’s most powerful creative voices, amassing massive global streaming numbers, making him the most streamed Ghanaian artist of 2022 on Spotify and the most streamed Ghanaian artist of all time on popular African streaming platform Boomplay.
With no gimmicks, Black Sherif has reached these heights in record time, leading the charge as one of the prominent pioneers of the new African sound.
Black Sherif, self-proclaimed “street preacher,” was born Mohammed Ismail Sharif Kwaku Frimpong and is known as “Blacko” by those close to him. He is already one of the prominent leaders for a new generation of African artists.
He has defied all odds since growing up in Konongo, a tiny mining town in Ghana’s Ashanti Region, to become the country’s biggest star. Black Sherif carves his own path by delivering a distinct sound to a new African youth, bridging the gap between Afrobeats, Highlife, and Asakaa (Ghanian Drill).
His powerful wordplay, vivid narrative, and one-of-a-kind ability to smoothly transition between dialects, locations, and genres, together with his compelling, explosive performances, have helped him transcend borders. He released his debut single, “Cry For Me,” when he was 17, straight out of high school, and his following one, “Money,” in January 2020, showed his coming of age, maneuvering through the difficult streets of Accra, Ghana.
His breakthrough came in 2021, when his songs “First Sermon” and “Second Sermon” pushed both him and Asakaa to fame. “Second Sermon” was ranked #16 on The Fader’s list of the 100 best songs of 2021, and the remix, which features Nigerian star Burna Boy, helped Black Sherif gain international recognition.
However, it was “Kwaku The Traveller,” a popular tune that surged on TikTok and earned 100 million or more streams in 2022, that cemented Black Sherif’s status as a rising artist. “Kwaku The Traveller” was called one of the best songs of 2022 by NPR, The Fader, Complex UK, and others, and the popularity earned Black Sherif a nomination for “Best International Flow” at the 2022 BET Hip Hop Awards.
The Villain I Never Was, his critically acclaimed debut album, was released in October 2022, with the lead track “Soja” hitting at #23 on the Billboard US Afrobeats chart.
Accompanying music videos for album favorites “45,” “Konongo Zongo,” “Oil in my Head” and “Oh Paradise,” stand as a testament to Black Sherif’s artistic depth as each of the conceptual visuals have amassed many millions of views on YouTube.
Recent months have been a whirlwind for Black Sherif, who for the first time graced stages around the world including Afro Nation Miami alongside Burna Boy, Pharrell’s Something in the Water Festival, Wireless Festival in London and his own debut headlining concert at Palladium Times Square in New York City.
While in New York, OkayAfrica trailed Black Sherif for their Summer 2023 cover story and he also sat down with Ebro for an exclusive Apple Music interview where he reflected on his journey so far.
Other recent highlights include his appearance on the blockbuster Creed III soundtrack, executive produced by J. Cole’s Dreamville, with “Blood, Sweat & Tears” alongside Bas and Kel-P, and his feature on “Celebrate,” a collaboration with Jamaican star Popcaan. Black Sherif also was one of the key celebrity guests, alongside Idris Elba and Sheryl Lee Ralph, to accompany Vice President Kamala Harris in Ghana during her Africa tour in March.