Born Atlasaone Molemogi, ATI is one of the country’s most gifted singer-songwriters, blessed with a creativity and energy few can match when it comes to live shows.
Sadly, away from the music, the rapper’s turbulent personal life has been slightly less successful.
While he takes conspiracy theories around the dark world to a whole new level, ATI has been fighting demons of his own.
The ‘Khiring Khorong’ hit-maker is now a self-proclaimed recovering drug addict having checked himself into rehab in late 2018.
This week, the rapper invited Voice Entertainment’s SHARON MATHALA to his suburban home in Gaborone to speak about the latest controversies surrounding his career.
The Voice team arrive to find the flamboyant artist, complete with exfoliating face mask, cleaning his room.
Pleasantries are exchanged and the singer seems in high spirits.
Before the interview begins, however, Deputy Sheriffs and a lawyer turn up to slap ATI with summons.
He is in debt but is optimistic he will come back stronger.
In an emotional roller-coaster of an interview, ATI talks about sexual relations, drug abuse and the bitter fall out with his former manager that have led to recent rape allegations.
Q. Thank you for inviting us into your home, how have you been?
I have been good. I have been blessed.
Q. Why did you decide to speak out against your manager? Where you not afraid this would tarnish your brand?
Even more important is protecting the victims who are derailed into thinking that what they are told is A when it is actually B.
So this is more about the victims not me.
Q. But all of this allegations happened under your nose? Did you not notice anything?
I am very observant but with my manager it was like there was an energetic block.
He controlled everything around me.
Even with the people that I interacted with.
He understood my weakness and he played around that.
Q. Oh! What exactly do you mean by ‘he played around your weaknesses’?
I am one open person, I am an open book.
He knew how to play around that because I vested so much power into him.
All my relationships, he went behind my back and intimidated the people.
He had a hold on a lot of people I have tried to get into a relationship with.
Q. What exactly do you mean?
I will tell you something, I have never been in a relationship.
I have tried.
I have even tried to get into a relationship with money.
I did not understand the culture of a relationship and when I did my manager got in the way because you know people are not comfortable about their sexuality.
I was dealing with abandonment issues.
I was too clingy with who I am trying to love that they don’t even have time to love me back.
My manager intimidated my partners about their sexuality.
This had been going on for too long until I decided that I should go to rehab.
Q. So you checked yourself into rehab, you were not talked into it by family?
Yes. I checked myself into rehab because nobody cared about me.
I looked at myself as worthless.
My level of self-esteem and confidence was so derailed to a point whereby I did not want to be seen.
It got so bad towards the end of last year.
I will tell you something, he painted a picture of a chaotic character.
Q. But trouble seems to follow you. Do you know this?
Yes. Yes I do.
Most of the time it’s ‘purpose learnt’ it is not poor decision making.
Most of my chaos is orchestrated by people around me.
Even before the drugs I know they planned all of the bad things against me.
A lot of things have happened and were meant to happen to me.
Q. What do you mean?
The drug industry in Botswana is (….breathes heavily) I am lucky to be alive. I am lucky to still be sane.
Q. When did the drugs start?
Q. What made you dependent on drugs?
I was not dependent on drugs.
I tried to escape the reality of pain.
The painful part was coming face to face with drastic measures afterwards.
I had to cut the cord with everyone I know and evaluate the relationships that surrounded me, from work to love relationships.
When I did this, I found out that most of my relationships were orchestrated with malice by the one person I gave enough power to destroy me.
Q. Please elaborate further and make it clearer for me, what do you mean by this?
Circumstances always turned around to make me seem crazy.
I started questioning my reality and during this time I did not want to talk to nobody.
I was literally down on my knees and I look back now and say I am lucky to be alive.
Q. Do you think the drugs played a big part in your problems?
I don’t blame anything or anyone.
I just believe things happened the way they were supposed to.
I will tell you I am the best version of myself right now.
If happiness was to be gauged from 1 to 10, I am at a 5.
Q. Have you ever been at 10?
No. I have never been on a 10 but it is my first time at 5, that I will tell you!
Q. What drug was it?
I would not want to say.
I will tell you though that it was a drug that made me calm. Is it important to know?
Q. Why were you missing shows?
I was not well.
I was mentally unstable.
Wa nkutlwa gore ka reng? (do you understand what I am saying?) Mental health is very important.
When they found out that I was on to what they were doing with all these rapes, they literally tried to make me go crazy!
Q. Did they buy the drugs for you?
No! I bought the drugs for myself.
I mean I was addicted, I still am but I am recovering, you know what I am saying.
I am recovering from a mental problem.
Q. But your fans did not know all of this.
They were screaming your name and you did not come.
That is the thing, that is what I am telling you that [screaming fans] it is just not enough.
I was losing my mind.
I mean if I missed a show because I broke my leg it would be easier to understand, right?
What would you rather lose, your mind or your leg? The mind is everything.
Q. Are you in debt?
I am still trying to pay off all that I owe especially from last year when there was a lot of chaos.
Just right now you saw that I got a summons but I don’t live life by sulking.
I take it with grace and I am going to move through this.
Q. If you could undo one thing, what would it be?
I would not change a thing.
I would not because the level of understanding, what I like and what I don’t like, has heightened right now.
I understand now what it is that can advance me from point A to point B and I do understand what manipulation is.
I have lots of knowledge right now that I would have not known if I had not gone through what you say is a negative space in my life.
I mean I have tried to commit suicide but I am still here.
Q. You attempted suicide?
What I mean is that I now understand what a child who says I am going through depression means on a personal level because I have been through that.
I now understand that it is not the drugs we should be fighting, the fight is to help one accept what one does not want to accept.
It is what I call healing the inner child.
Q. Any plans of having a family of your own in the future?
Depends on what you mean by family. I don’t know what family is.
Q. Children of your own?
Q. Do you have a financial advisor?
No but I have had a financial restrainer and that was my mom.
She used to co sign with me.
Q. Have you ever been broke?
I define poverty on a spiritual level.
I have been poor with money in my pockets.
That whole time of ‘Khiring Khiring Khorong’ what I did at the time was the most suicidal thing ever.
I kept myself busy as opposed to dealing with what I was going through.
Same as taking the drugs; I always felt guilty for taking drugs because I felt bad when taking drugs and then coming to have a conversation with you.
I knew that was not me. It ate at my spirit.
But all I want to do is do good.
Q. And finally, Thank God It’s Friday, what will you be up to?
Probably in the studio making music.
*ATI’s manager refused to comment on the allegations against him.