AKA is easily one of the biggest rappers to ever come out of South Africa, prompting the MC to crown himself as ‘SA’s rap prince’ over the years through consistent string of hits. From when I started listening to AKA, which was only with his commercial success, I’ve seen him evolve into what he is now: on the way to becoming a hip hop legend. From making his debut album ‘Altar Ego’ to releasing his most recent album ‘Levels’, AKA has simultaneously gained a lot of respect and new fans as well as a lot of shade and haters, which unfortunately comes with the success. One of the most rare things in the South African rap game that I think AKA has mastered is the art of being able to deliver a strong verse on almost any kind of beat. Testament to this is when you could be watching Channel O and seeing him as a featured rapper, then five minutes later turning on your radio and hearing a pop track featuring AKA. Although, when looking at his lyrics, his wordplay can be as strong as it can be weak but he makes up for it in his ability to captivate the listener all the way through the track with his punchlines that make you either laugh or ponder on a single issue as you automatically block out the rest of the song. I personally listen to very little commercial SA rap and when actually comparing AKA to the other big rappers today, I can’t find too many differences in terms of what they’re all saying to the public and what messages they are pushing. The contrast between the ‘Altar Ego’ AKA (rapping about working hard, staying focused and ignoring all of the hate) and the ‘Levels’ AKA (rapping about conquering the rap game and embracing all of the love) shows the ability success has to change content. I, along with a few other members of the SA hip hop audience, have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with AKA’s music. He’s good but I know that he could be so much bigger. Lyrically he has improved but for me the really dope hip hop beats and flows he used to use have been switched up from the beloved boom bap to the sampled house beats. Overall I think AKA is one of the best MCs in Southern Africa.
Cassper Nyovest is a relatively new member to the hip hop game and has already been gone through the mill as if he’s a well seasoned rapper. In South Africa, one of the things that makes our rap so different from other countries are our indigenous languages that are incorporated in our music. Almost all rappers that spit in their mother tongue are already setting themselves apart from other rappers in that with another language comes new flows and new delivery that would be difficult to do in English. Cassper Nyovest is one of the few rappers today to do this in such a successful way. He isn’t the first or the only one but he’s one of the newest and more creative ones. He is great in the sense that he’s unique and although he might be influenced by many he’s not replicating anyone else. However when actually looking at his lyrics, they’re not as strong as his delivery makes them out to seem. Yes, he’s got a nice flow and a couple of nice punchlines, but I really don’t think it’s enough to say he’s one of the best lyricists to come out of SA. Cassper has many different styles and is not the type of rapper that you can put into one box and label as one thing. In comparison to AKA he may be breeding a fresher, more innovative generation of hip hop headz but does that make him the better rapper?
We’re asking you – who’s the better rapper?
Written by: Kamogelo Tselane