We spotted the rapper, AKA, years ago when his track “Jealousy” was banging in parties all around Africa. Young, black and successful, we could not pass the opportunity to interview the golden boy from South Africa in NYC for a show. Believe us, he is the incarnation of cool.
What does Aka stand for?
I came with it when I was in school. We had a group with my friends and of course had to get names. I thought it was a good name partly because I was too lazy to find anything else but also because it means that I can do different things. I’m a producer, a songwriter, a performer, I direct my own music videos. Basically it’s aka/aka/aka… to infinity.
As a kid what did you want to do when you grow up?
As fars as I can remember, I was always the trophy kid. The one called to dance, read, show off, to entertain adults. When I look back on it , I guess that’s what I was meant to be. I was destined to do it.
You have topped charts in Western Africa but your name is AKA Worldwide, what about the rest of the world?
We brought people closer to each other through collaborations on the continent. Thanks to Internet, blogs, magazines but most importantly by the power of satellite TV. It enables to see what’s happening in other countries, to check nigerian,congolese, tanzanian, kenyan videos and so on. All that content is around now and on the opposite my music travels to some places I have never been to. People know my material without even knowing me. Now I am expanding in the UK, Europe and the U.S. So that’s the plan, taking over the world with african music. We are spreading the message and energy of Africa.
You grew up in a period where kwaito was huge, where did you pick up that hip hop vibe?
I don’t think Kwaito has a direct influence on my music. Let me say this, it is the original south african hip hop music. In the 80’s we had bubble gum pop music and after that was the rise of Kwaito. A mix of house music beats with vernacular language. I got vibe authenticity, streetness, lay backness from it. That’s what I have inherited from it when I’m producing.
You are one of the most stylish men in the country according to GQ. Is it important for you to be well dressed?
Dressing is good, it’s part of your image as an artist. It’s the first thing people see about you. I like to think you have to dress for the occasion, I’m not the type to wear a suit day in and day out. It’s all about the situation and the vibe. It’s nice to hear that. I suppose I already knew it but confirmation is nice.
You are also fan of basket-ball in a country devoted to football?
In the US you have to define football, I don’t like US football. I am a big fan of soccer.
Do you play?
I wanted to be David Beckham when I was young. He had a hot girl, nice cars, lots of money, the man is a legend. But I think I was way more talented in the studio than on a football pitch. I still have to maintain for fitness, social soccer. It helps.
If you had to go on an island with only one object, what would it be?
My phone, or a keyboard. For how long? If it is for 6 months I might take some food, matches, some Tom Hanks stuff.
Michael Jackson Bad or Thriller, no hesitation. That’s an easy one.