Kanye West is widely credited with changing the fibre of hip hop when he released his fouth studio album 808s & Heartbreak about decade ago. The drum machine infused electronic sound together with more auto-tune assisted vocals exploring a more emotive theme in its content. This allowed for a new type of rapper to emerge, a break from the tough-guy-macho macho rap persona to more emotive and vocalized content.
Kanye West has since inspired a generation of rappers, designers and overall creatives with his creative excellence. None more so than one of South Africa’s premier entertainers, AKA. Like many others, AKA has openly idolized Kanye over the years, the inspiration clearly visible in his past works.
Much like his idol, Kiernan Forbes has ditched his prolific raps for an overly autotuned vocal sound similar to what American rapper Future has built his career on. On Touch My Blood, his third studio album, he continues with the auto-tune that gave us Caiphus Song and Sweetfire as album singles. Bar Reset, Magriza and even The World Is Yours, you’d be hardpressed to find AKA actually rapping.
For all intents and purposes, Touch My Blood is a pop album. On this album, he touches more on his love life and the tabloids that come with that than any other theme; an indication of his well documented obsession with tabloid celebrity.
There are two things that AKA is very good at, making hit records and playing pop culture celeb. This album is nothing short of hits, previous singles Caiphus Song, Sweetfire and The World Is Yours are testament to his hit making ability. In fact, with the exception of Zone, the album spawns hit after hit record from Reset all the way through to The World Is Yours.
In spite of the overtly autotune sound, there are some standout joints from the 16 track album. His reunion with longtime foe L-tido on Amen is considerable on a classic Hollis P Monroe sample. The forthcoming single Reset, featuring a Malum verse and a JR hook, is a vibey love song asking all the right questions.
Magriza, featuring Kwesta is a sure hit, one of the only few actual rap songs on the album. AKA is in his element and Kwesta’s verse is just effortless. Fela In Versace, produced by longtime Davido collaborator is arguably the best song on the album, in spite of the regurgitated lyrics, the afro-beats influenced song is sure to become another mega hit.
Jika, another matrimonial anthem, will surely cement Kiernan’s pop star status, the record has crossover appeal owed to Yanga’s beautiful hook. Jika is set to continue where Caiphus Song left off, a beautiful love song.
There were high expectations for Daddy Issues II which fails to live up to the classic Daddy Issues I found on his sophomore album Levels. The politically-charged Mame is nothing to write home about.
Without features from Stogie T, Kwesta, and Malum, there’d be no rap on this album. Granted, AKA doesn’t have to ever rap again, we still long for that prolific rapper we were reminded of on Composure. If it wasn’t for Practice, the single he recently dropped for Reebok, we’d be forgiven for thinking AKA the rapper is gone forever.
AKA is a pop star and Touch My Blood is a pop album, darling.