We celebrate AKA’s extraordinary career in 30 songs from 2005 till 2023.
Entity – ‘Touch & Go’ (2005)
AKA’s early beginnings, teen rap group, Entity were forceful, confident and intriguing. Few had their money on AKA at the time, but he learnt, built and grew into the South African music mammoth he had become at the time of his passing.
‘Do It’ (2009)
In hindsight, “I’m bout to do it like ain’t nobody who came before me” was cold, as AKA went on to do exactly that. ‘Do It’ showed a rapper who was sure of himself, unapologetically commercial, but still respecting the craft of rhyming. Alongside vocalist Clu on the hook, the remix featured the hottest rappers of those years, Maggz, Slikour and JR, helping familiarise fans with a new young rapper with a lot of promise.
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Originally appearing on AKA’s debut mixtape, ’24/7/366’, ‘Mistakes’ found itself on his debut album ‘Altar Ego’, released two years later. One of the strongest songs from the mixtape, ‘Mistakes’ was exciting; it combined AKA’s sharp rapping skills with the accessibility that would make the masses fall in love with him a few years later.
‘I Want It All’ (2010)
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For, ‘I Want It All’, AKA linked up with two of the game’s A-listers over one of I.V League’s finest beats; that bassline that recalled kwaito and those high-pitched synths made for a freshness one wasn’t used to in SA hip-hop at the time. ‘I Want It All’ was explosive, bold and made AKA hard to ignore. At this time, it was clear South Africa was about to witness a new hip-hop star.
‘Victory Lap’ (2011)
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‘Victory Lap’ was a permanent fixture on radio at a time SA English rap wasn’t mainstream. AKA was a new kind of hip-hop star; he refused to play by the rules, his talent was boosted by an unmatched confidence that earned as many fans as it did critics. ‘Victory Lap’ remains one of the most important songs of his as it officially announced his arrival in the mainstream.
‘All I Know’ (2012)
With ‘All I Know’ AKA made it clear he had more tricks up his sleeves. He was comfortable enough to sing his own hooks while delivering convincing raps. The Prince of SA Hip-Hop title was justified; it was only a matter of time till he became the king.
‘Bang’ (ft. Khuli Chana) (2012)
Yet another collab with Khuli Chana, ‘Bang’ showed just how easy this hitmaking thing was for AKA. The visuals documented a trip to Cape Town which included a performance, an interview on Goodhope FM, a cruise through the scenic Chapman’s Peak Drive with DJ Fanatic, Tibz and Khuli, and a visit to AKA’s grandparents’ house in Athlone. ‘Bang’ was one of many collaborations between Mega and Khuli with the last one being 2023’s ‘Prada’.
‘Jealousy’ kickstarted a new phase of AKA; the song was a lead single to his sophomore album, ‘Levels’, in which he revealed his love for dance music via the samples he used. ‘Jealousy’ sampled Martin Solveig’s song of the same name and will always be seen as the first step to AKA finding his own sound and a launchpad for his magnum opus. The hype around this single was just nothing we had ever witnessed for a rapper, partly because fans were now on social media and also owing to the boundaries AKA was crossing.
For ‘Congratulate’, AKA chopped and looped a portion of Harrison Crump’s ‘Ride’ that spoke to him. As the hottest rapper in the country, all he was asking for were congratulations from everyone. Roping in JR as a co-writer and guest, AKA made it clear he was a visionary with his eyes on pop superstardom. “Starts out with a pipe dream/ White T and an ice cream” is such a perfect first line that references the cover of his debut mixtape ’24/7/366’.
‘All Eyes On Me’ (ft. Da L.E.S, Burna Boy & JR) (2014)
‘All Eyes On Me’, a crossover pop juggernaut that sampled Brenda Fassie, introduced Burna Boy to the South African market and would go on to be one of many Naija-Mzansi collaborations such as Emmy G’s ‘Rands and Nairas’ (ft. AB Crazy and DJ Dimplez), Da L.E.S’s ‘P.A.I.D’ (ft. AKA and Burns Boy), Ice Prince’s ’N-Word Remix’ (featuring AKA), Davido and Nasty C’s ‘Coolest Kid in Africa’… you just had to be there.
‘Sim Dope’ (2014)
‘Sim Dope’ is extravagant, loud and classy; fitting for AKA’s lofty stature. It’s based on “a very fortunate dude” that AKA went to school with and was clearly a big inspiration to Mega so much so he rapped, “if I die, I pray to God he bring me back to Sim Dope,” in the hook.
‘Kontrol’ (ft. Da L.E.S) (2014)
Inspired by his times as a student, ‘Kontrol’ is the ultimate party-like-there’s-no-tomorrow anthem; it’s depicted in the lyrics and the visuals. ‘Kontrol’ was in a string of hits by AKA and Da L.E.S who had become close friends with at the time – ‘Heaven’, ‘All Eyes On Me’, ‘Real Stuff’ and the last one they ever did together, ‘Starlight’ in 2020 – show us any harder duo. We’ll wait.
Almost unanimously agreed to be one of the best South African hip-hop diss tracks ever, ‘Composure’ still turns the club up to this day. It was the first time the Cassper-AKA beef went on wax after two years of twars and even physical altercations. ‘Composure’ was a gem, a moment and an undebatable banger.
AKA x Patoranking ‘Special Fi Mi’ (2016)
At this point, AKA was on a roll with the Naija collabs. His connection with Afro Dancehall artist Patoranking was a seamless Afro-fusion number built on perfect synergy and an infectious vibe.
‘Dreamwork’ (ft. Yanga Chief) (2016)
One of the best AKA songs ever, ‘Dreamwork’ showed the undeniable chemistry between him and longtime collaborator Yanga Chief in an ice-cold rap song.
‘Caiphus Song’ (2017)
One of his Afro-Pop gems, sampling Caiphus Semenya’s ‘Matswale’. Here, AKA was reconciling with his then-girlfriend Bonang and he dropped the song during the month of love and talked about “They need an angle for their website/ We just living our best life.” ‘Caiphus Song’ has several siblings such as ‘Sweet Fire’, ‘Jika’, ‘One Time’ and ‘Zone’.
AKA x ANATII – ‘Don’t Forget To Pray’ (2017)
The power tune, ‘Don’t Forget To Pray’ is breakfast show music at its best; it’s catchy and empowering and comes with some fine rapping (“Omo” line aside).
One of AKA’s finest qualities was his honesty even when it put him in people’s bad books. ‘Beyoncé’ was uncomfortably TMI but it was AKA speaking his truth like he always had before. He was going through a breakup and he dealt with it the best way he knew how.
‘Touch My Blood’ (2018)
The best opener of all of his albums, ‘Touch My Blood’ was AKA showing off some of the finest yet understated rapping of his career; a nuanced take on politics, self-centred in some parts, that was far from safe. His verses are carried by a self-assured calmness, punctuated with effective poses and the right amount of melodies.
‘Fela In Versace’ (2018)
One of AKA’s biggest songs, a team-up with Nigerian producer and artist Kiddominant, proving yet again that AKA made magic with Naija artists.
Produced by silent killa, Big Les For Real, ‘Angelz’ might just be the hardest song on BCWYWF. That beat, ice-cold. And AKA and ANATII laced it with fire verses. I once watched AKA perform this at Capsule, which was sponsored by Sportscene and he still rapped, “It’s been a while since I bought a kick at Sportscene.” Goat shit if you ask me.
‘StarSigns’ (ft. Stogie T) (2018)
Adding to one of their many collaborations, AKA and Stogie T dropped the cynical ‘Starsigns’ leading up to Touch My Blood at the beginning of 2018.
‘Main Ou’s’ (ft. YoungstaCPT) (2019)
YoungstaCPT and AKA had met on a flight years ago while YoungstaCPT was on his crazy mixtape run in the mid-2010s. YoungstaCPT told me in 2017 AKA said to him, “I hear you have 24 mixtapes. Bru, that’s a lot of rapping.” When I asked when they’d collaborate, he said, “When the time is right”. In 2019, they finally dropped this banger at a time when AKA was opening up to his Coloured heritage in his music, which can be heard on ‘Touch My Blood’.
‘F.R.E.E’ (ft. Riky Rick & DJ Tira) (2019)
The climate was harsh for Hip-Hop in 2019 in SA. ‘F.R.E.E’ was one of the very few hits by a Hip-Hop artist, which proved once again that AKA was a formidable hitmaker. The song referenced kwaito and featured the late Riky Rick alongside the Don of Durban’s music scene, DJ Tira. This might just be the closest AKA ever got to kwaito sonically.
‘Casino’ (ft. FLVME & Sho Madjozi) (2020)
AKA always had his ear on the ground. Reaching out to the new wave, he enlisted the unlikely combination of FLVME and Sho Madjozi on this hit from his 2020 EP, ‘Bhovamania’ which is the only place you’ll probably hear Sho Madjozi and FLVME in one song.
‘Monuments’ (ft Yanga Chief & Grandmaster Ready D) (2020)
In 2020, AKA took it back to the old school. He broke down the song to Apple Music as follows:
“I’ve always wanted to make a really hardcore hip-hop song. I had never done a record with scratches on it and I thought to myself, ‘I’d like some cuts. That’s the essence and core of hip-hop.’ I was able to reach out to Grandmaster Ready D and I’m happy that I got one of the greatest turntablists in the world. This song commemorates this moment in time. I made it just as lockdown started so this song comes from a place of being cooped up—you can hear it’s very isolated and insular. When lockdown started, it was time to reintroduce myself to myself and ask myself questions like, ‘Why do you do what you do?’ ‘Thinking to myself what’s the reason that I even started making music in the first place?’ is the key line of this song.”
‘Energy’ (ft. Gemini Major) (2020)
‘Energy’ was released alongside ‘Cross My Heart’ and ‘Monuments’ after a six-month break in which AKA was wylin out, getting into a scuffle with Sizwe Dhlomo and almost melting down over his deal with Reebok. ‘Energy’ showed Mega in good spirits and in good shape. The song was a needed dose of positivity in an otherwise dark year.
‘Tears Run Dry’ (2021)
Six months after the passing of AKA’s fiancée, Anele “Nellie” Tembe, he released ‘Tears Run Dry’. He sounded grief-stricken and disengaged. AKA wore his heart on his sleeve, and the song’s primary function was his catharsis more than being a fan-favourite.
AKA x Costa Titch – ‘Super Soft’ (2021)
AKA had made it clear he wasn’t rapping to prove a point anymore; all he wanted to do was express himself fully while sounding cool as fuck. ’Super Soft’ is one example of that; he sounded comfortable and, at times, too comfortable for his own good. The lead single to his and Costa Titch’s collab album may not have blown up as his other singles did, but it’s a song The Megacy will always appreciate.
‘Lemons (Lemonade)’ (ft. Nasty C) (2022)
Supa Mega might just be the only SA rapper to have a hit in 2011 and 2022. ‘Lemons (Lemonade)’ speaks to his longevity, adaptability and his innate ability to make a hit. As he rapped, “I’ve been on top for a long time”, no one did it better.