Kenneth Awotwe Darko: ‘I made a career out of telling stories of my pain’ – Why Omar Sterling’s album was worth the wait

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Last week, I chanced on Yaa Pono’s ‘Good Morning,’ a song that is nearly a decade old. Now that I reflect on it, it might just be a classic-in-waiting.

I tweeted that day about how I nearly forgot about this melody which underpinned most of my time back in senior high school, merely because I saw myself in the lyrics.

Even more profound was the Efya’s vocals that sandwiched Pono’s witty style from both ends to keep the track airtight, just the way we liked it. It led me to wonder which other rap song was bodied by the songstress at that time when she had just found her feet as a solo act, away from the former Irene and Jane group.

“I’m coming through, see my shining…,” that’s the Efya’s lyrics that rang in my head as it signed out Paedae’s Tema Motorway Freestyle. The 2011 masterpiece was key among songs that ran through my mind.

Efya did her magic on there as well, but this time, with one part of the R2Bees crew, Omar Sterling also known as Paedae.

At that point, it hit me how long we had gone without a Paedae album. His most recent album after that was back in 2016, 5 long years ago.

Remember, this was just me deep in my thoughts on a graveyard shift fighting to keep sleep away as much as I could by reminiscing about songs that struck a nerve for me back in the day – don’t ask me why I wasn’t thinking about today’s crop of music, that’s a story for another day.

Sixteen hours later, an announcement had been made and social media had gone crazy.

“Same Earth Different Worlds available everywhere 22/06. See you next week,” Paedae posted on Twitter and I was poised to wait for that ‘next week’.

However, not all music fanatics were as enthused by the development. As far as announcements go, Paedae had earned notoriety in postponements and here’s why.

In August last year, a similar statement that raised the hopes of his fans left them hanging dry after the September deadline passed without even as much as a whistling sound from the R2Bees poster boy.

And so when Omar, known outside music circles as Faisal Hakeem tweeted the release with a definitive date, June 22, fans finally had something to hold him to.

The day came, and Paedae actually dropped the flow! Or the album in this case. He showed us why it was titled Same Earth Different Worlds.

The project has taken the music scene by storm as Paedae’s worldview seems to have evolved over time.

The 20-track album has been his best work yet, I believe. If there’s one thing Omar Sterling is good at, it’s the ability to sell you a packaged version of what you have always known to be true.

He has a way to this, narrating his experiences to reflect yours by basically putting a mirror to your face.

Omar Sterling does this on Bayla Boys Company, the second track on the project, where he plays on nostalgia about events from back in his youth.

He walks his audience through adventures, most risky, and friends which he dabbled in while growing up as a child. Some of these friends are no more but it is clear from his point of view that he wishes the lost ones would be here to appreciate who he has moved on to become.

This song is a personal one with an emotional twist that many hard knock streets kids from predominately low-income areas of Ghana can relate with.

It goes ahead to recount the tragic death of Mugeez’s sister, (Paedae’s cousin) which he says brought untold grief to the family until he learned from the Quran that innocent souls go to Heaven.