Supa Mega Legacy, RIP AKA A tribute…

Boitumelo Maswabi
REMEMBERING AKA: Voicewoman and AKA in 2013

Not by a long shot am I a hip hop head, but I think of my daughter as I pen this tribute to perhaps one of the most gifted rappers of her generation – Kiernan Jarryd ‘AKA’ Forbes.

The maverick rapper was gunned down two Fridays ago alongside a friend, Tebello Tibz Motsoane, outside an establishment on the now ‘famous’ Florida Road in Durban, South Africa.

Darling daughter doesn’t only come to mind because she, too, died young, or that she adored ‘Supa Mega’, but because we shared a special love of hip hop, including Forbes’ smash hits such as the ‘All Eyes on Me’ collabo with Burna, JR and Da Les, ‘Caiphus Song’ as well as ‘Fela In Versace’ ft. Kiddominant.

- Advertisement -

Though its history dates back centuries and – according to my latest research – can be traced back to Africa and the Caribbean islands, it was in the 80s that it gained widespread popularity in New York City, USA.

The motherland would subsequently catch the bug, through films that depicted hip hop culture like ‘Beat Street’ and Spike Lee’s ‘Do The Right Thing’.

That privilege of growing up in the golden era of hip hop, dear reader, earned me bragging rights, as I’d often lord it over my daughter whenever we discussed and enjoyed this controversial genre.

Certainly hugely controversial today to rap along to classics like Tupac’s ‘Hit Em Up’ as I am a born-again Christian now; I won’t be the one to remind you to “feel the wrath of a menace”, as Pac threatened in his diss track to B.I.G. And I can bet you a dime to a dollar, Gen Xers and Xennials can thus tell a good rapper from a pretender thanks to the pioneers; from The Sugarhill Gang to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, KRS-One, Run DMC, LL Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, and the heirs apparent: Left Eye, Foxy Brown, Lil Kim, Bahamadia, Nate Dogg, Warren G, Tupac, Nas, Kanye West et al. …and oops, I neglect to mention Biggie, Nicki and Drake, lest I start beef!

In an ideal world, indeed no parent should have to bury his or her child, but we live in a hostile world.

AKA made good music; he was a marvelous entertainer and had a remarkable stage presence that won him throngs of followers across the world!

- Advertisement -

When I met him after a presser at the Cape Town International Convention Centre exactly 10 years ago and asked for a picture, I recall he was quite amiable and well mannered, which reminded me never to judge a book by its cover, or reviews.

We chatted a tad and I remember commenting on a tattoo of Michael Jackson I spotted on his arm; he joked that he chose the pop icon’s “nicer face”, meaning the one prior to plastic surgery.

Of course, oftentimes most rappers put up a façade hence the media portrays them as rather overbearing or high and mighty.

The fact is, for those lucky few who get to spend a bit of time – or are well acquainted – with them as witnessed last Friday during AKA’s memorial service, the opposite is true.

And one of those is the equally talented and urbane Game ‘Gabs City Zeus’ Bantsi, one of the best rappers to come out of Botswana.

- Advertisement -

Zeus collaborated with AKA and Tumi on his hit single ‘#DatsWasup’ and went on to win a Channel O ‘Male Video of the Year Award’ in 2013.

Supa Mega Legacy, RIP AKA A tribute...

Voice Woman spoke to the multi-award winning local rapper last week, and this is what he had to say:

“The loss of AKA and Tibz is heartbreaking, not just for South African Hip Hop but the culture across the continent as well as globally. Under the careful Hip Hop Mogul stewardship of Tebello “Tibz” Motsoane, a Mega brand was built on the talents of Kiernan Forbes, whose stage name carried a world of irony when I first learnt of him and his prolific flows in the mid 2000s.

“AKA” is an acronym that is used so much in hip hop that I wondered if it would stick as an artist’s name in an already cluttered space.

But the more I heard from him, even in those early days (before the many sonic evolutions), the more he stood out as not only an elite hitmaker that crossed subgenres and genres but a creative, intelligent, diverse and witty wordsmith that could go bar for bar with any MC anywhere on the planet.

The incredible career trajectory they both took led to business thought leader and influencer roles that spanned industries – from events, fashion, beverage to food, fine art, broadcast and more.

They were a model team we learned a lot from about localizing leverage strategies in African hip hop and popular culture as well as the many facets of the entertainment business.

- Advertisement -

I had the privilege of collaborating with AKA on the award-winning single ‘#DatsWasup’ alongside our bigger brother in boom bap bars, Tumi Molekane aka Stogie-T.

His willingness to jump on an edgy underground hip hop track with no appearance fee when he was already an established star in the South African industry was humbling and I am eternally grateful.

The success of the song led to more time spent beyond the recording studio on performance stages as well as on another collaboration alongside Khuli Chana, who was among one his biggest allies.

- Advertisement -

From their first trip to Botswana, to hanging out at the pan-African AFRIMA awards in the United States, our collaboration gave me a chance to spend time with a talent that will go down as one of the finest musicians to come from the African continent.

This exposure and validation not only added value to my career but, dare I say, to the Botswana hip hop scene as a whole, especially in South Africa, Africa and the African diaspora.

The fire verse he put down on the instant classic was a celebration of his coming of age, even declaring how “you can never be the new kid on the block twice”.

Once was more than enough for the Supa Mega!

Very few African MCs will blaze a path in the way that he did.

My sincerest condolences to AKA and “Tibz” families, loved ones, friends, associates and fans.

I share in your pain and the trauma of how their lives were cut short.

May God grant comfort and carry you through these hard times, #DontForgetToPray.

Forbes’ spiritual mentor and pastor, former TKZ member – Kabelo ‘Bouga Luv’ Mabalane, who spoke glowingly of the lyricist’s love of God during the memorial, said that AKA’s prayer request at their last cell group was for his latest album, Mass Country, to be a success, and went on to urge the ‘Megacy’ ( AKA’s fans) to ensure that happens.

- Advertisement -

The album drops today (Friday).

Leave a comment