#HypeMoments: Leaders of the New School

A look back at our December 2010/January 2011 cover story featuring AKA alongside Khuli Chana and L-TIDO

No major record deals. No red tape. The age of independence is upon us in a digitally interactive world which erased all restrictions. Welcome to the new school era of hip-hop. In 2010, no other MCs have been able to see as much success as them – all before dropping their debut albums. The game done changed and got itself three new leaders… It’s rap royalty!


We all know Khuli as the most outspoken member of the revered Mafikeng rap crew Morafe. Taking a stride in the solo direction paid off BIG time. I mean, dude won awards before his album was officially even out! Having single-handedly created the subgenre of motswako, giving rise to the likes of HHP and Tuks, Khuli is no new kid on the block – but he is THAT new school leader in hip-hop.


School was out as the crew Entity parted ways, enabling AKA to hustle all on his own. His break-out single ‘Do It’ swung him into a whole new zone. His recognition had come and the start of a successful career would present itself; first in the form of a mixtape, then in numerous features. One HYPE Award under his belt and it’s been clear that AKA ain’t new to the game no more… just a leader of the new school era!


Unbeknown to the public, L-TIDO was preparing for takeover. A long-time hip-hop fiend and member of the Gliterrati Gang, he started making a small buzz for himself. This buzz didn’t see fruition in the form of mass success until he started releasing solo joints. The ladies started paying attention to the man with ‘a black belt in swag’. Then the guys followed suit. L-TIDO was a newcomer with a mission – and thanks to his hustle, he’s now a leader in the new school.

What defines the new school?

Khuli Being independent defines the new school. That is the difference. We all realised that if you can impress the masses then you got it. You don’t have to be signed to a label. These are smart cats. We all know what we’re doing. We have great management teams. You don’t need to be signed anymore…

L-TIDO As an artist you have to be involved with your own work. You must take the initiative. I’ve been doing it myself and it won’t stop. I’ll be proactive because artists need to take ownership. You find big acts only shooting one video for your album… that’s not acceptable. You need to put yourself out there and not wait for labels.

AKA The positive thing about being independent is owning what you do. I like it because I can do whatever I want. My management team and I can strategise our own path and be masters of our own destiny. With majors you might have a bit more budget but it’s restricting. The way I came into prominence was being interactive with people and taking my music to people, building a following. The old model of majors doesn’t allow for much ownership – and that’s what I’m doing.


What do you want people to take from you as an artist? Were the goals you set out to achieve fulfilled?

Khuli I want people to think artistry, musicianship. It’s bigger than a hot 16-verse or a banging beat. It’s about making beautiful South African music.

L-TIDO My music is an expression of me. There’s a lot more to L-TIDO than the singles. If you listen to my entire catalogue you get to know that I’m a versatile rapper who can touch on different issues and many people don’t know that I have a strong hip-hop background. I probably know more backpack sh*t than most. I’m a fan of hip-hop, the music. I came up under the likes of Wu-Tang and Nas. People will hear the more commercial tracks because that’s what radio wants. People often misconstrue the fact that I come across as a commercial rapper.

AKA The most important thing about AKA is being able to relate to people. I want people to be touched by my music in a way that they know what I’m talking about and understand where I’ve come from. I’m a regular, ordinary dude with an extraordinary talent. I’m just able to articulate what happens in my life and it’s a gift to represent that and get people to relate.



Being a leader in this new era of hip-hop, what is your opinion on the new generation of hip-hop and how it’s being taken forward?

Khuli What we all have in common is that we all did it without an album. I got awards before the album was out. I mean L-TIDO and AKA are on the cover of HYPE without an album. This new wave of hustling is just beautiful. Some of us put out videos before sampling radios. I’m honoured to be a part of the new school.

L-TIDO Firstly it means a lot because I work very hard. I have more singles and videos out without an album, than those who do have one out. I definitely do more shows. I’ve been on tour almost every week. There’s no place in the country where I haven’t been booked. I see the love and response is overwhelming and I believe I’m on the right track. I rocked crowds that aren’t hip-hop and people have started recognising me on the streets. I’ve come far and it can only get better from here on out.

AKA We are here because of guys like Ready D, Amu, Skwatta Kamp and guys like that. They made it easier for us to come through and do our thing. There was a time when SA hip-hop wasn’t anywhere like we are now. We have so many opportunities. The world is ours for the taking because of people like them. We have to give thanks to the guys who made it easier for us.



What is your rap wish list for 2011?

Khuli I’ve always wanted to travel and do more gigs overseas. I think my music has got that global potential. If the Zulus and the Xhosas like it, I think a dude in Harlem would too.

L-TIDO I really want my album All or Nothing to penetrate the market. The mixtape was me on my independent hustle but I need to go on a bigger scale with the muscle I have.

AKA Top of the list is to travel. I always cite Tumi as one of my inspirations. HHP too and most recently JR. We’ve got our own South African stories to tell. I wanna go into Africa and beyond that. My other wish is to get my album out called Career Student. With all the hype that I’ve built and the groundwork done, this is what it’s boiled down to. It’s the product I’m delivering. With the amount of work I’ve put into the album, I’m gonna put myself out there and say that it’s gonna be the best SA hip hop album of the year!

And there you have it. Here are men with no major deals. Two of them don’t even have albums out. There’s a common thread of independence and the need to travel to penetrate the market. YOU out there: no more excuses. No more bullsh*t. If you can’t do it, you only have yourself to blame. Yes YOU.


This interview was featured in #40 of HYPE magazine, written by Simma, with visuals by Juri Potgieter.


Keep an eye on our site for more HYPE Moments featuring AKA in the coming week.

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