He may have passed on, but the gift of his music remains to inspire and positively influence upcoming generations of artists worldwide.
●12th February 2023
On February 10th, 2023, South African rapper, Kiernan Jarryd Forbes, known worldwide as AKA, was shot and killed alongside a friend at a popular night spot on Florida Road in Durban. Following the statement of a witness at the scene, the 35-year-old rapper was shot while standing on the pavement when gunfire rang out at about 10pm.
Forbes was born in January 1988 and raised in Cape Town. He discovered his love for music as a teenager while listening to rap songs from American artists, propelling him to start writing down rap songs whenever he returned home from school. He became notably popular after releasing his single “Victory Lap” from his debut studio album, Altar Ego (2010). He continued to perform well into the later years, releasing studio albums which include Levels (2014), Touch My Blood (2018), Bhovamania (2020), and the collaborative album with South African artist, Anatii, Be Careful What You Wish For (2017).
With a remarkable career spanning several years and a multitude of collaborations with prominent figures in the music industry such as Burna Boy, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross, Kanye West, etc, AKA truly made his mark both in Africa and the world beyond. His expressive and powerful rap bars complemented by skillfully executed yet profound hip hop melodies carried him to international stardom. Loved by artists and listeners alike, AKA is recognized not just as a successful recording artist, but as a great record producer. He served as one of the leading contemporary South African artists who transformed, redefined, and drove forward both the hip-hop and pop genres of music in South Africa. His social consciousness shined through on many of his projects, most especially on his Touch My Blood album where he explored the experience of growing up as a coloured person in a stereotype-bound South African society.
AKA’s music repertoire is loaded with several award nominations including “Best African Act” in the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards; “Best International Act (Africa)” in the 2014 M.O.B.O. Awards; “Best International Act” in the BET Awards 2016. He won the awards for “Most Valuable Artist” in the 4th South African Hip Hop Awards held in 2015; “Best Collaboration” in the 2014 MTV Africa Music Awards; “Best Male Artist” in the 18th South African Music Awards, amongst other awards.
A controversial figure, the rapper also struggled with a life that was rife with different accusations of abuse. There were claims of him physically and emotionally abusing his late fiancée, Anele Tembe, the 22-year-old who passed away after falling from the 10th floor of a hotel in Cape Town in April.
Nevertheless, while AKA was perceived as somewhat of a problematic character, his talent and efforts at redirecting pop music in South Africa and generally, the music industry, cannot be ignored. He may have passed on, but the gift of his music remains to inspire and positively influence upcoming generations of artists worldwide.