AKA’s new album, Mass Country, due to be released on global streaming platform Spotify tomorrow, is both a parting gift to his fans and a love letter to South Africa.
Mass Country was produced and completed before South African rapper Kiernan Forbes’ untimely death. With a mix of local sounds, and features from a host of South Africa’s hottest Hip Hop talent including Khuli Chana, Blxckie, Nadia Nakai, Emtee, Yanga Chief, Sjava and more, there is no mistaking that this one was for his South African fans. In a video taken while he was in the studio, AKA is heard saying “there is only one audience I am pandering to”.
His mother, Lynn Forbes says: “Kiernan was so proud of Mass Country. As a family it was a pleasure to see his music’s evolution over the years. He played us this album over and over again. We’re happy the world finally gets to hear it.”
“AKA was one of the few people who could be classified as a South African Hip Hop megastar and we are honoured to be able to continue to share his music with his fans both in South Africa and all over the world,” says Warren Bokwe, Lead Music Strategy and Operations for Spotify Sub-Saharan Africa.
One of the ways that Spotify will do this is by featuring Mass Country on a billboard in New York’s Times Square. This billboard has also previously showcased other South African artists like Kabza de Small and Sha Sha, providing a platform to share homegrown talent with international audiences.
Spotify’s data shows that while South Africa makes up the largest single market for AKA’s music at 38%, the vast majority of listeners (62%) are streaming from elsewhere in the world. The UK , USA, Sweden and Germany round out the top 5 markets for his music.
“Spotify is a platform dedicated to supporting African artists and providing them with a place to grow their global fanbases, so this kind of data is a testament to AKA’s talent and the power of streaming,” Bokwe says.
Since his death earlier this month, streams of AKA’s music have increased by 743% on Spotify.
AKA began his music career in high school with rap trio Entity, alongside Vice Versa and Greyhound. In 2011, AKA broke onto the music scene as a solo act with his debut album Altar Ego. Spotify data tracks his meteoric rise, and growing popularity with each new album. Levels, his sophomore album was able to reach the 1 million streams mark on Spotify in 19 months. His third studio album, Touch My Blood, released in 2018, raced to a million streams in just 11 months.
AKA’s songs feature on over 630 000 user generated playlists on Spotify. All Eyes on Me is AKA’s most popular song to be playlisted, and his first song to hit one million streams on Spotify. The song features Nigerian artist Burna Boy and long time collaborators Da L.E.S and JR. Fela in Versace, from Touch My Blood, features on over 128 000 playlists. Lemons (Lemonade) featuring Nasty C, the first single from the upcoming Mass Country, is already AKA’s third most playlisted song, despite having only been released in September last year.