Why Black Sherif Is Succeeding Where Shatta Wale Failed


At the tail end of 2021, Ghanaian superstar, Shatta Wale hurled insults and expletives at Nigerian artistes on the Freedom Concert stage after selling out Ghana’s biggest stadium alongside Medikal. The crux of his rant was that Nigerian artistes attain global fame solely due to the support they get from Ghanaians and that the Nigerian media space fails to replicate support for Ghanaian artistes.

Adopting a calmer approach, fellow Ghanaian superstar Stonebwoy disagreed with Shatta Wale’s method of airing his grievance but co-signed the message.

However brash, the sentiments behind Shatta Wale’s claims are not unfounded, the Nigerian music scene is enjoying a dominant run on the African continent and global market at large. Nigerian artistes and songs dominate the top 10 and top 20 charts of African countries while other African artistes find it difficult to break into the Nigeria market, even artistes as big as Shatta Wale.

Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy

In a twist of fate, barely months after Shatta Wale’s rant, the Nigerian mainstream music is being held in a chokehold by young Ghanaian sensation, Black Sherif. At the time of this article his hit single Kwaku The Traveler hit Number One on the Nigeria Apple Music Charts.

Prior to the success of Kweku the Traveler, Black Sherif had warmed his way into the Nigerian music audience with his collaboration with Burna Boy on the remix of Second Sermon.

The difference of fortune between Black Sherif and Shatta Wale can be narrowed to two major things, collaboration and relatability.


The Nigerian scene is the African equivalent of the American music scene. To bolster their presence in the American market, Nigerian superstars Wizkid, Davido, Burna Boy, Tems among others have collaborated with musical giants like Drake, Beyonce, Justin Bieber, and Lil Baby. You will be hard-pressed to see a Nigerian global superstar who has not attempted an international collaboration to validate their presence on the global scene.

Billboard announcing Tems

Following in the footsteps of his Nigerian colleagues, Black Sheriff collaborated with Burna Boy on his remix, which was facilitated by Nigerian dancer Poco Lee. Building on the strength of the success of that collaboration, Black Sheriff has gone on to cement his presence in the music scene rivalling Nigerian acts on the charts.

In contrast, Shatta Wale has decided to go against the Nigerian grain, occasionally poking and prodding its artistes and fans with provocative and incendiary commentary. It is not difficult to imagine that it will be difficult for his songs to get any traction in Nigeria in the near foreseeable future.


On the Nigeria social media space, it is hard to avoid the phrase “Of course I f*cked up, Who never f*cked up hands in the air…No hands”. A line from his Kweku the Traveler song.

The single line from that song has propelled it into national consciousness the same way “If I broke na my business… Folake for the Night” did for Pheelz Finesse.

Once Nigerians relate to a song and can latch on to catchphrases they show immediate support, this explains why Windeck from Angola’s Cabo Snoop became widely acceptable in Nigeria while Nigerian rap still struggles to find its footing.

Foreign songs that have broken in the Nigerian market have had to co opt Nigerian acts to indigenize the lyrics to their songs to the suitability of the Nigerian audience, this is how you get “Odogwu you bad, file fun Burna” and “Ko Wole … Better Rest Better Rest Better Rest” on Yaba Buluku remix and Ke Star Remix respectively.


Foreign acceptance is not a birthright and its attainment is largely out of an artiste or industry’s control. For all of Wizkid’s success with Essence, he failed to garner a Grammy award for his efforts.

Shatta Wale’s focus should be ensuring that Ghanaian music becomes the first choice in his country, a battle Nigerians are all too well familiar with.

Nigerian music played second fiddle to Hip-hop and R&B in the 90s and francophone music mostly Makossa ruled the early 2000s. Before Nigeria found its pop sound, it had to mirror these genres in their songs to have any hope of mainstream success.

It took a concerted effort by key stakeholders, government regulations and the shadow economics of Alaba international market to make Nigerian music acceptable for consumption by Nigerians. A platform from which Nigerian music was launched into the global space.

At the end of the day, global acceptance is fickle, over time the world has flirted with Reggae music, Latin sounds, K-pop and now Afrobeats, the best and enduring support is from your home country and in Ghana, Shatta Wale is King Already.

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