“Baddest ft. Burna Boy, Khuli Chana, Yanga ” – AKA

Photograph of artist AKA

“Baddest ft. Burna Boy, Khuli Chan, Yanga” is a 2015 hip-hop song by South African hip-hop artist AKA.  According to a 2011 Sunday World article, the 27 year old rapper from Cape Town started working on music in 2002, and later joined a group called Entity in 2005.  AKA did not reach status as a household name until his around 2011 with the success of his début solo album Alter Ego.

“Baddest” appears to be a track aimed as popular radio play and night-life.  It’s lyrics do not place it within the realm of conscious or message rap but rather in the realm of the popular commercial hip-hop music sung and danced to by the masses, for example, “Bought a sports car and some real estate/ Now them niggas stand when they see me.”  AKA sings some of his lyrics with a repetitive melody that creates the “hip-hop pop” sound that has been very popular in the last few years of hip hop music.  The song is very fun and danceable!  I enjoy listening to it and it seems like a fun song for summer parties.

I wonder to what extent AKA is critiqued for creating music that appeals to popular charts rather than the political and social movements from which hip-hop sprung.  In my opinion, I believe there must be space for all types of music.  I also do not blame AKA for the shift in popular hip-hop music that seem to have removed it from black consciousness.  There is money to be made and no one faults pop artists for creating apolitical catchy music.But my question is whether songs such as “Baddest” should still be referred to as hip-hop when they are so divorced from hip-hop’s historical motives.

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