After a gradual start over a couple of decades, South African Hip-hop finally has its first real shot at worldwide acclaim, it seems, with Kiernan “AKA” Forbes leading its charge into the global limelight.
The rapper’s year is off to a stellar beginning having been selected as one of five African artists to watch in 2015 by DJ Edu, the resident specialist on urban African music on BBC 1Xtra.
That prediction has already begun to materialize with All Eyez On Me – AKA’s summer single jam-packed with star power via Nigeria’s Burna Boy, Da L.E.S and JR – entering A-list rotation on BBC 1Xtra,the London-based UK tastemaker radio station which is known for nurturing to global acclaim acts ranging from the British Grammy-nominated Ed Sheeran to the golden boy of Azonto Fuse ODG. All Eyez On Me is also now on rotation on MTV Base UK.
“AKA has long been one of my favourite rappers from SA, “says Edu adding, “He brings undeniably great Hip-hop to the table with that South African flair. He was one to watch and is now living up to his potential.”
This is South African Hip-hop’s first taste of UK radio and music TV prime time, following soon after a list mentioning AKA’s contribution to the local scene’s current zeitgeist was published in the UK Guardian.
At the start of 2014, Edu’s spot-on forecast was that South African dance Mafikizolo would be ones to watch, and sure enough there was no performing artist group more prolific than the in-demand duo.
Given AKA’s long list of achievements his anticipated performance this year is more than just a lucky guess:All Eyez On Me is his 4th consecutive #1 single from the current album LEVELS. The hit song, which debuted at the top of the iTunes SA Hip Hop Chart, has had its video heavily rotated on Channel O, MTV Base, Trace TV.
Regionally, the rapper has his sights set firmly on pan-African domination, backed by a slew of awards confirming his status as South African urban music’s most sought after names. The BBC 1 Xtra play-listing announcement comes in the wake of AKA’s high profile Nigerian promo tour with a slot on the coveted Nigerian weekly premium events Industry Nites as part of the itinerary.
Crowned Channel O Africa’s Best Hip Hop artist for the 3rd time in four years, AKA’s 11 nominations (and six wins) at the 2014 South African Hip-hop Awards makes him one of, if not the most decorated MC from South Africa. It is likely that he will continue this feat this month at a music award event hosted by the biggest urban radio station in South Africa, Metro FM. His seven nominations here include Best Collaboration for previous single, the city anthem Run Jozi as well as All Eyez On Me.
It’s worth nothing that this is the second nod that Edu has cast his way. The first came in 2013 when AKA was cited a breakthrough African artist for 2013. Since then he has performed with Big Sean, Emeli Sande in the US, Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Congo, Tanzania, Kenya and Malawi just to name a few.
A long list of African music A-listers including Don Jazzy,Ice Prince, Tiwa Savage, Wizkid, Sarkodie and KO have been drafted for collaborations that will no doubt secure AKA in the minds and eyes of Hip-hop fans across the continent, and ultimately the globe, as South African rap’s foremost flag-bearer.