Tributes continue to pour in following the death of hip-hop musician Kiernan ‘AKA’ Forbes. AKA was shot dead on Florida Road in Durban on Friday night. The late star is credited for making the hip-hop genre popular in the country.
AKA broke into the industry in 2010 with his debut album ‘Altar Ego’, featuring tracks such as ‘Victory Lap’ and ‘I want it all’. The album received the South African Music Awards (SAMA) for Best Street Urban Music Album. He also received the best Male Artist of the Year.
His work continued with his second studio album in 2014, ‘Levels’ which includes the track, ‘Congratulate’.
“I wanted to make a song that celebrates the positive milestones in our lives, whether you have just had a baby, got married, maybe you just got a promotion, degree or driver’s license whatever, I just wanted to make a song that people could relate to and that is what ‘congratulate’ is about,” he said during an interview with SABC’s Morning Live.
The awards kept coming and while he appreciated the recognition from his peers and the industry, what was more important to him was his fans.
“Awards, they don’t define you, but it is nice to get recognition from peers from the industry, to say, ‘this year you are the best hip-hop artist in the country.’ There have been many of those milestones. But one thing I have learnt in the industry is to get over your successes as quickly as you can. “
In 2019, Forbes raised the bar even further by performing with a 30-piece orchestra, a first for a South African hip-hop artist. The event took place at the Sun Arena in Pretoria.
“I think we are always looking for different ways to build our fan base but also expand on what we have already accomplished. I play with a band week in and week out, and I just wanted an extension of the music and the orchestra provides a perfect opportunity for that.”
His more than 10-year music career has not been without controversy, from his rivalry with rapper Casper Nyovest to his romantic relationships.
He trended in 2016 when he announced that he will no longer be an opening act for international artists.
“I am a big advocate for South African artists and their rights when it comes to the light in which we are viewed, with regards to oversees acts; I have said it before that I consider myself an international act. Last night for instance we premiered ‘one time’ on BBC extra in the UK,” he expressed in an interview.
AKA continued to divide public opinion over various issues, however, he was unapologetic with his stances.
“I don’t try and portray anything; I just try and portray myself. I believe that I am going to do this music thing and make it a success on my terms and make it being myself than making it being someone else. I think as South African, it is about time we have someone who is not apologetic about being good about what they do, and not being afraid of who they are. At the end of the day, hip hop music is about being competitive, confident and putting your best foot forward.”
‘Every song has meaning’
Love or hate him, his music catalogue goes down as indisputably one of the best in the country. “I view every song of mine as a kind of like one of my babies. I don’t know how many tracks I have made in my career but every song was made for a specific purpose. Some might be favourites for radios, some might be fan favourites.”
Before he met his untimely death, AKA had announced a WhatsApp hotline for updates relating to his new album Mass Country.
In an interview, Forbes family lawyer Rudolph Baloyi confirmed that the release of the album will still go ahead as planned.
The album is expected to be released on 27 February.