AKA's 'final' album is his most matured

The rapper, whose real name is Kiernan Forbes, speaks to me a few hours before the release of his much-anticipated album, Touch My Blood, which is set to be his final body of work. He is also in rehearsals for his Youth Day performance when we settle in for our chat.
The rapper, whose real name is Kiernan Forbes, speaks to me a few hours before the release of his much-anticipated album, Touch My Blood, which is set to be his final body of work. He is also in rehearsals for his Youth Day performance when we settle in for our chat.
Image: BAFANA MAHLANGU

For AKA, being a better father and businessman ranks highly - probably higher than music itself.

"This world is so big, with so much to do. I want to travel more, go on holiday and take my daughter to ballet. There's much more to this world than making music," he tells me.

The rapper, whose real name is Kiernan Forbes, speaks to me a few hours before the release of his much-anticipated album, Touch My Blood, which is set to be his final body of work. He is also in rehearsals for his Youth Day performance when we settle in for our chat.

"I think it's my best, most matured and vulnerable work; this is a personal album," AKA says.

"I was ready to make my music reflect what has happened in my life over the last few years, especially this year.

"To be a good artist you need to bury your personal life into it. There is actually no such thing as separation for me because my personal life fuels my music."

The artist whose personal life has often been made public through the media, does not shy away from controversy.

Two weeks ago saw him tease fans with the release of two songs from the album, including the contentious single Beyonce, which has widely been viewed as a "diss track" towards his former girlfriend and media personality Bonang Matheba.

"It's interesting because my state of mind is that of any rap artist or musician who has ever written a song about a woman. The only difference is that people assume they know what that woman is like or they have some vested interest because they think they know who the woman really is," he laughs.

The rapper prides himself on his honesty and emphasises how he never felt the need to create an alter ego or different persona in his music, on social media or in the media, unlike other artists.

"I'm exactly the same person, which is why I think I am so successful. I always told myself that I wanted to be as authentic and relatable as possible."

Although the artist is often outspoken about his love/hate relationship with the media and calls out social media trolls, he is thankful for how it has shaped his career.

"I think I generally have a great relationship with the media. The only relationship that is negative is with people I wouldn't even consider as journalists or even consider as public media."

From his final album and travelling the world, including his performance in France last week, to owning digital company Beam Group and inking a partnership with Cruz vodka, creating opportunities for others is something close to his heart. As he chats to me he points to the winner of the #TouchMyBlood challenge for the best cover art.

"It's one thing to speak about opportunities and it's another to actually give them to people, and that's what I think we actually managed to do. We've managed to take someone through an internship and now they work at Beam."

Co-parenting daughter Kairo with baby mamma and businesswomen DJ Zinhle is his favourite role by far. With the current climate of absent fathers in the country, this is a concept AKA can never understand. "It's hard for me to relate because my father was there for me, so I can't really wrap my mind around not being there for my child. It's a bit of a weird concept to me."

"Being a dad is dope, quote me on that," he laughs.

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