Who is Super Sako?
Super Sako is the stage name of Armenian-American rapper, DJ and producer, Sarkis Balasanyan, who quickly rose to fame in 2016 with his hit song 'Mi Gna' (meaning 'Don't Go') from his album 'Love Crimes'. The song was written by Artak Aramyan with additional English lyrics by Sako, and featured vocals by the Armenian rabiz singer Spitakci Hayko. Originally uploaded on YouTube on August 17 without a music video, the song became an instant hit in Armenia, the Armenian diaspora, Turkey, and the Arab countries, and has been viewed over 158.6 million times as of April 2018. In late March 2017, it became the number one searched song on Shazam in Turkey in the 'Top 100 of the Week', ahead of Ed Sheeran’s 'Shape of You' and Clean Bandit's 'Rockabye' featuring Sean Paul and Anne Marie. Following the overwhelming response to 'Mi Gna', he embarked on a world tour and has performed at pop-up shows in several countries. While as a musician he is interested in all genres of music, he identifies himself as a rapper and wants the world to recognize him as such.
The Meteoric Rise to Stardom
Super Sako revealed that he was born and brought up in a family with musical background, and had developed his love for music at a very early age. This helped in making his eventual transition into professional music smoother when he finally decided to take up music as a career. Sako, who was heavily influenced by the likes of 2pac, Spice1, DJ Quik, and Biggie early on in his life, is primarily focused on Rap, Hip-hop and R&B music. Within a short period of time, he began writing his own songs, which quickly gained him a loyal fan following. However, it is the song 'Mi Gna' from his album 'Love Crimes' that earned him worldwide recognition in August 2016. The song instantaneously became a huge hit among his Armenian fans especially in Turkey and the Arab countries, and registered over 158 million views on YouTube. It also saw remixes by several notable artists, including French rapper Maître Gims who released versions in Armenian, French and English, with the French version peaking at No.6 on the French Singles Chart.
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On March 31, 2018, Super Sako delivered a power-packed performance at Samrat Hotel, Delhi, his first ever show in India, which was co-presented by the exclusive nightclub pop-up company Drama in partnership with FFF and Stanley Communications. It was part of his world tour during which he traveled to different countries to experience different cultures and explore new forms of music and dance. He was especially moved to witness how people from different cultures and backgrounds cohabited in the country. A fan of the pop-up culture, he was surprised by how the country was quickly adapting to the new concept that revolutionized the nightclub experience. During an interview, he expressed his eagerness to collaborate with some Indian musicians in the future, including his personal favorites like Hard Kaur, Arko Mukherjee, and Neha Bhasin. He also took the time to treat his taste buds with the Indian cuisine.
Controversies & Scandals
Interestingly, long before 'Mi Gna' made Super Sako a well-known figure in world music, he had made headlines for the wrong reasons in June 2011 after he was seen in a series of photographs "featuring violent, misogynistic imagery of a faceless woman". The pictures were taken in different settings, including one in the backdrop of Haghpat Monastery which showed him standing with a gun in one hand while with the other hand pulling a half-naked woman by the hair. This particular photo taken by photographer Arvin Kocharian before the 10th century UNESCO-recognized monastery drew the ire of his Armenian fans, including a civil group by the name 'Know Your Country' which released a statement calling it "sadistic and sacrilegious". Unfortunately, that was not the only picture that earned him criticism.
Another picture showed him in a makeshift butchery with pieces of meat hanging from hooks, while a half-mutilated body of a woman covered in white sheet lay beside him. A third photo showed him stabbing another woman, again lying on a table and covered with while sheet. While the photographer tried to defend Sako's portrayal of the "consequences of betrayal", many Armenian social media groups called for boycotting him for promoting domestic violence against women.
Super Sako was born as Sarkis Balasanyan in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, and later migrated to the US. He currently lives in Sherman Oaks, California. In late 2010, he got married to a woman named Ojen. The wedding ceremony was captured into frames by one of the leading Californian photographers, Jay Jay.