Slowly but steadily, fast-rising Ghanaian rapper, C-Real is set to carve his niche within the African rap genre and lays bare his intentions to do so, on a recent trip to Nigeria, to Eromo Egbejule and Ayodeji Rotinwa as he announces his debut album, discusses his music and plans to foray into the Nigerian music industry.
He may have first burst onto the limelight when he emerged runner-up in the 2011 Channel O Emcee competition, but it's been a long time coming for Ghanaian emcee, Cyril Alex-Gockel, who goes by the alias, C-Real. He won the Ghana Battle MC competitions further back, with a mix of lyricism, punch lines and a great delivery and became one of Ghana's most recognizable rappers. Born in Hohoe in the Volta region of Ghana, C-Real describes himself as being "all about hip-hop brewed from GH."
"I'm a poet, writer, producer and entrepreneur," he says. In a competitive industry that has the likes of Sarkodie, D-Black, M.anifest, E.L, Jayso, Reggie Rockstone competing for the number one emcee spot, it's not been easy "holding it down", as they say in rap parlance. Multiples of C, his first mix tape, was well received all over the tiny West African country, which former UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan also hails from. It had the hit track, "Wetin Dey Happen", which remains his most popular track till date.
C-Real, who runs Mixdown Studios in the heart of the Ghanaian capital, Accra, went ahead to do a collaboration mix tape, Project Hip-Hop with long-time friend and multi-talented Elorm Adablah aka E.L., who won the 2010 African Movie Academy Award for Best Original Soundtrack for the movie, Perfect Picture. Waiting for the right time, the rapper released his debut album offering, EmCEO, a musical project themed around the concept of his dual nature as a rapper and entrepreneur. A unique blend of pure, raw Hiphop, party tracks and azonto, the album has begun to garner positive reviews, since its release on December 1, 2012.
The rapper hopes to work with some of the biggest names in hiphop both on the continent and beyond, including Reggie Rockstone, Obrafuor, Sarkodie, Eminem, MI and Busta Rhymes. Wizkid and D'banj, two African pop stars who have carved a niche for themselves even far across the borders of the continent, are also on the wish list of this rapper, whose Kneel, Rise, Praise and Conquer song drew comparisons between him and Nas, from some areas..At present, C-Real is an indie artiste, hoping for that big record deal but moving at a steady pace meanwhile.
On the controversy of the Sprite Channel O Emcee Africa hip-hop reality show where he came second, even though popular opinion was that he deserved the first spot, he waxes philosophical.
He says, "I think everything happens for a purpose and I believe i am where God wants me to be now. Positions do not determine one's unique talents, output or impact. I am where I am meant to be. Now with the release of my debut album, I'm more focused on bigger things and my perception is beyond battle rap. I'm a complete musician now." As a complete musician, he hopes to change the Ghanaian music industry by creating enough room and opportunity for the growth of budding artistes. C-Real hopes that he can also erase the "myopic perception of what GH music should be."
He aims to be an ambassador of Ghana hip-hop worldwide, the CEO of a World-class record label and talent hub and have a family of my own in the coming years. For now though, battle rap alumni is focused on getting attention for his album that is currently available on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.