The Evolution of AKA

AKA: Making that Paper

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Throwback to 2009/2010 when the radio was popping better than the internet, back when you had to hear exclusive rap on the radio at specific times. They’d play all the most relevant rap songs at the time and also give a platform to upcoming artists that had buzz in the streets. A big shout out to Siz & Scoop, C-Live and Tbo Touch for supplying the heat.

I remember listening to C-Live’s show on a Monday evening and when the popular rap music playlist was done, it was time for the streets to invade the radio. C-Live dropped a brand new hot joint by this rapper called AKA called “Do It” feat CLU. Damn, that jam sounded crisp as hell for an upcoming rapper.

As a hip-hop head, I had to do my research about who this rapper is and I found out he’s the coloured dude from the rap group Entity all grown up. His verse from “Touch and go” was the most memorable.

AKA started blowing up on the radio with his singles “Mistakes” and “I want it all” featuring Khuli & PRO smashing charts on YFM and 5FM. A bubbling under artist just broke into the market and he had the drive and hunger to take over the rap game.

The industry started taking AKA seriously and depth about him emerged. AKA was producing smash hits for rappers that were the running the game at the time. He and the IV League collective, which consisted of BUKS and Kamza, produced tracks like “Bampa” by Pro and “No more hunger” by Khuli Chana & JR. Those songs were epic and the beats were distinctly raw. You could hear the IV League element, papa! It was no surprise why a breakout rapper had such crisp beats. Sorta like a Kanye story, you know; college dropout to chasing dreams, creating killer beats with the desire to rap.

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AKA dropped a mixtape called “24/7/366” which is a street classic and his best work to date, in my opinion. The tape told a story of a dude who had a dream, the drive and the passion to take over the rap game. It told his real-life story of how he wanted to live his dream, the sacrifices he had to make and the struggles he had go through to get the victory. Tracks to look out for on the tape are “I woke up”, “Can’t wait” Feat Sizwe Dhlomo as Scatterbrain, “Out like that” feat CLU who was a damn good vocalist.

With the success of the “I want it all” video, AKA has broken into the tv scene. He had to stay on and own that platform. With appearances on V entertainment, he had to drop a fire song to keep up his consistency and celebrate his victory. That’s how “Victory lap” was born and that song blew up the game. His name has been cemented and he was the Fresh Prince of the rap game. He started performing at big events like Back to the City, blowing up the internet and street fashion scene with Head Honcho and winning the best new comer award at the Channel O awards. AKA was the new It Boy in the rap game. In rap there’s always gotta be beef, the Showlove VS Glitz gang beef was entertaining for some time. AMEN that beef is over (Haha).

He followed up with “All I know” and the industry loved it! His name became cemented as a powerhouse and this before he even dropped an album. That was legendary. With the heat on blast, AKA dropped Alter Ego, one of the strongest South African hip hop albums of our generation. It was a commercial success winning numerous awards including the SAMA for “Best produced album”, “Best rap album” and “Best male”. How’s that for a debut, huh? Songs to look out for in the album are “Bang” feat Khuli Chana, “Snakes and ladders” and “Reign” feat Buffalo Soldier.

With performance demands and magazine shoots, guap was surely coming in and that meant a change in lifestyle. New threads, new kicks, new whip (a fresh VW Scrirocco) that meant a new playground. The North, and when he got there he hung around the freshest, the North God L.E.S.

The two started hanging and started making music. Iconic songs came out of that collaboration, like “Heaven” feat Maggz, “Kontrol” and “Patron break” which was on L.E.S’ “Mandela Money” album.

AKA started making the news with rumours of him dating DJ Zinhle. The media were having a feast with that story. There was no mistake, Kiernan Forbes was an A-list celebrity now. At the end of this era, the IV League collective was in a shaky situation and had to disband.

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With a switch up in lifestyle, it had to go back to the music. AKA dropped “Jealousy” and the game lost its mind. It was a different sound from his previous offerings but it sounded fresh! “AKA came back with a fresh cut, you need to put your new shit on hold”. The visuals did justice to the song as the execution fit the concept of the song perfectly. It was epic, man, with appearances from his hero Benny McCarthy, DJ Cleo’s godly BMW M1 and of course, B.

The song opened up Africa to AKA as the song was very jiggy. He started roaming around the rest of the continent searching for a new sound and collaborating with other African artists like Ice Prince and Burna Boy. He just climbed higher up the hierarchy and that is how “LeVels” was born. Fresh from a trip across the motherland, he had to conquer the city he’s from, “Run Jozi” feat K.O and Yanga Chief on the hook and director credits. That song changed up the game for real; imagine shutting down the Mandela Bridge for a music video shoot, Sheesh! Levels dropped with smash records like “All Eyes On Me” feat JR, L.E.S and Burna Boy, “Congratulate” and “Sim Dope”. Other songs to look out for are “Daddy Issues”, “Pressure “feat Reason and “Sunshine” feat J Something from Micasa. The album had a more experimental sound and a total switch up from the IV League sound. It was well received by the majority of his fans.

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Within all of that, the infamous beef was bubbling. The internet fans were losing their minds. Kiernan became a dad, Kairo was born and life had to switch up. But you know shit happens, AKA broke up with his baby mamma, the internet lost it! Rumours of him dating Bonang flooding our timelines was just insane.  To just calm down and set the record straight he released “Composure” and delivered some hard bars.

AKA started dropping singles just to keep his sound on the streets, like “Baddest” and “One Time”, collaborated with killer producer and rapper Anatii to create “The Saga” and after that saga their mini beef begun. Thank goodness they squashed it, but we had to be careful what we wished for. AKA started touring the world, learning their culture by going to Tim Westwood, Sway and the BET experience. His swag came back SAUCY!

AKA and Anatii released “Be careful what you wish for” and the streets were on fire! With singles like “Don’t forget to pray” and “10 fingers,” the duo had the rap game in the palm of their hands. Other songs to look out for are “Angelz”, “Holy Mountain” and “Braynston Drive”. During that time, the Supa Mega was making serious corporate moves and getting endorsed by Cruz vodka. Cheese was made.

“The World is yours” dropped and it shook up the game with the video being shot in Thailand with a guest appearance from the spuramaluda. Shit always happens and AKA broke up with Bonang over cheating rumours. This guy has serious mami problems! AKA started teasing a new album on Instagram, recording at luxurious locations to get the vibe right. At this time, he signed an endorsement deal with Reebok, major moves there.

Months went by AKA dropped singles like “Caphius song”, “Sweet Fire” and “Star signs” feat Stogie T. It was a clear indication that the album is on the way.

AKA used his power on social media to announce the #TMBchallenge, where he challenged his creative fans to design album art for his upcoming third and “final” album called “Touch My Blood”. That challenge broke the internet with many designs being entered and he chose the most minimalistic design from his inhouse designers from BEAM Group, shout out to TK & Stephan.

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After teasing the album for weeks, AKA dropped 2 singles in 2 days which shattered the internet, “Amen” feat L Tido (who saw this coming all those years back) and “Beyonce” which touches on his previous relationship with Bonang. That song was the trending topic for the longest time, the shade thrown was crazy.

A few days later AKA dropped “Touch My Blood” with an exclusive listening session first, a launch party in Zone 6 Soweto, then the album was released on all music streaming sites. This album is pure heat and it encompasses all the sounds AKA has experimented with during the years. Stand out songs like “Magriza” feat Kwesta has Buks on production and it has that IV League taste from Alter Ego. While “Amen” feat L Tido has that Tweezy sampling taste from LeVels and “Touch my blood” has the matureness of “Be careful what you wish for”. His single “Fully In” is a trap song that has substance. Shot in Eldos, the coloured community shows AKA deep within the culture. It has the monochrome feel of Run Jozi, totally epic video! AKA says this is his final album and he’ll focus on his business BEAM Group. This move has been done by Jay-Z with “The Black Album” and I’ll just leave it at that.

AKA has accomplished so much in his career and there are definitely valuable lessons to learn from his success story.

  1. Dream big, have passion and be driven!
  2. Be unapologetic.
  3. Master your craft.
  4. Always strive to improve your craft.
  5. Stay close to your family.
  6. Stay swagged up.
  7. Be patriotic!
  8. Collaboration is key.
  9. Consistency, consistency, CONSISTENCY!
  10. The world is yours.

Blog by Ash More.

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