By Khanya Nkambule (@GunchTheYouth)
Is the South-African hip-hop throne in contest? With AKA and Cassper Nyovest attracting opposing fan bases, we take a look at how AKA’s sophomore project “Levels” positions him in the SA Hip Hop Game of Thrones.
ALBUM TITLE: Levels (June 2014)
Available for download on iTunes
Until recently, it’s been in question whether ‘The Prince’ was on the way to becoming the king, or if he was even really still ‘The Prince’. His new project, titled ‘Levels’ is AKA’s answer to his critics.
Since leaving Entity, the hip hop group of his teenage years, 26 year old Kiernan Forbes a.k.a ‘AKA’ (you’ll allow the pun), has risen to great prominence. His debut album ‘Altar Ego’ was met with critical acclaim, seeing him receive many awards, nominations and the title ‘The Prince of SA Hip Hop’.
‘Levels’ begins with an introduction by Tumi Molekane (of Tumi and The Volume) who gives a commendable poetic prologue, even putting the likes of Brenda Fassie, Steve Jobs and ‘King Forbes’ in the same line of a verse.
Forbes is a big Kanye West fan and the opening line from Tumi spitting about AKA echoed Kanye in all ways possible. It seems that AKA has taken some notes from his icon Mr. West, as production is undoubtedly ‘Levels’ strongest point. I was pleasantly surprised by its consistency to provide what many SA hip hop albums can’t – simply good instrumentals. The beats get you bopping before anyone on the track opens their mouth.
As much as I appreciate lyricists and talented emcee’s and AKA has always topped my list in this regard, I was however slightly annoyed and disappointed with his over usage of the ‘Migos – Versace’ and ‘Drake – Trophies’ type flows.
Regardless, AKA is a great rapper as we saw this on ‘Altar Ego’. If he is irritated by competition from Mr. Doc Shebeleza why not just kill him on bars like he’s done in the past?
Another positive find is AKA’s experimentation on the project, we can hear that he’s become a more rounded artist with catchy hooks and creative singing deliveries.
Overall ‘Levels’ is a gem, I do think a combination of AKA’s flow on ‘Altar Ego’, his new creativity and flawless production would’ve made it iconic, yet it is definitely a turning point in the local hip hop game.
If you like Levels, you might also like Kwesta – DaKAR. Available for download on iTunes