Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, AKA is one of South Africa’s biggest mainstream hip hop artists today. He has received many awards and accolades such as, the South African Music Award for Male Artist of the Year, the South African Music Award for Best Street Urban Music Album, and a BET award for best International Act. AKA calls himself the “African Hip Hop Prince”, and according to undercovermillionaies.com AKA says, “I’m trying to bridge the gap between fans of different genres and cultures through a new style of African hip-hop music”. His sophomore album Levels is said to have done just that. Critics have taken note of how AKA incorporated updated production, authentic South African lyrical references, as well as hip hop credibility. Some of his most successful singles from the album were Jealousy, Kontrol, and Congratulate. In his single Congratulate, AKA talks about his road to fame which is a common topic for many rap artists across many cultures. He says:
Starts out with a pipe dream
White T and an ice cream
All day on the MySpace
MJ, trying to buy face
I had to pay dues, had to make moves on faith
Even got booed off stage, trying to put food on plate
Dropped a couple jewels on tape, now we got views on Base
So much, love
Trust fund and Kas’lam
Bad chick in my address and she showing up with that plus one
Through depths and peaks, wolves dressed as sheep
Better protect the key while I pen this acceptance speech (Genius.com)
AKA’s story can be relatable to anyone no matter their culture, but the South African elements are undeniable. There a few phrases and words that are terms used in the South African cultures incorporated in AKA’s song Congratulate. He mentions Kas’lam in the song. This word is used to refer to the “kasi” which is another name for the hood in South Africa. He uses Aw’kuze Kuse as well, which is used very often in South African Hip Hop songs, and means Dance ’til the break of dawn. As for many Hip Hop songs across different cultures, references to popping champagne bottles is often made, and AKA also includes it in Congratulate when referring to JC Le Roux, a South African Champagne.
Congratulate is just one of AKA’s songs that exemplifies how similar hip hop culture is across the globe, and his success and relatability across many cultures can’t be denied either.