Multimedia: AKA’s Supa Mega Show Rocks Cape Town

Image: Sabelo Mkhabela

Originally published on the African Hip Hop Blog.

Last weekend, South African rapper AKA brought his Supa Mega Show concert to Cape Town, his city of birth. On the bill were his allies Kwesta, Da L.e.s, JR and Yanga. AKA kicked off the weekend takeover with a pop-up shop of Supa Mega Show merchandise on Thursday and a meet-and-greet on Friday.

Lost Property shop, Cape Town, Friday 16 September

Two young women are having a conversation with AKA at Lost Property, a sneaker shop in Cape Town, where the rapper’s pop-up shop is held. They are telling him they flew all the way from Joburg for the show happening the following day. AKA is flattered. However there’s a small problem. “But I told you guys on Instagram: I said, ‘Guys, it’s going down.’” he retorts when they tell him they don’t have tickets, and the show is now sold out.

T-shirts and sweaters hang on racks in the small shop, where only about four people are allowed in at a time. His crew is in there, so it’s busy and crammed. “Let me sell you guys some clothes,” the rapper says to a group that has just walked in. He goes through the racks, taking the fans through the merchandise. There’s a pink long sleeve sweater with a line from his song “Dreamwork”: “Dollar sign got me in a good mood”. There are black and white Ts and sweaters with a low-light image of AKA on stage, facing up, arms open wide.

AKA is a down-to-earth sweetheart today, far from the asshole everyone thinks he is, because of his relentless Twitter persona. He makes conversation with and thanks and hugs everyone who buys something as he signs their shopping bags. While I was in the queue earlier, a group of girls asked me if AKA is in the shop, to which I said yes. One of them couldn’t contain herself; she screamed and jumped up and down, her face gleaming with excitement. The queue is long; fans have come out in numbers.

Shimmy Beach Club, Saturday 17 September

I’m late for the show — I’ve missed performances by Kwesta, JR, Yanga and Da L.e.s, and it’s all good. I’m only here for AKA, and I walk in a few minutes after he takes to the stage. Him and the crowd are performing “Composure” as I walk in. it’s the savagery that follows that cracks me up. When he gets to that “I’m the reason everyone had ‘The Saga’ on repeat/ Now you wanna go and charge me 80 000 for a beat,” line he repeats it over and over, and his band transitions to “The Saga”.

The energy is insane. The trendy cool kids in the crowd are rapping and singing along to every word of the rapper’s array of hits. The beach sand outside Shimmy, where the stage is, is not allowing me to be great as it finds a new home in my Chucks. I catch a few elbows as I make my way to the front row to film and take pictures — my efforts don’t yield the result. No one is willing to retreat from the front row. It’s a difficult event to document, but I persevere.

Da L.e.s, Yanga and JR come in and out to join Supa Mega on stage for songs they are featured in. One thing I don’t like is that AKA’s mic is on autotune throughout his set. So even when he speaks or raps, it sounds like he’s singing. But the band, though, is the meaning of life. Master A Flat’s face contorts as he strums keys on the corner. DJ Fanatic is on the wheels of steel, and doubles as the hypeman. There’s a drummer and an electric guitarist. So, when you are told the Supa Mega Show is a production, believe it.

The sound quality could have been better, but AKA is bringing it, with a never waning energy.

I catch the Holy Ghost when he performs “I Want It All”, one of my favourite AKA songs, a song which he said he was performing for his day-one fans. Not many of them here, judging from the response.

Bottom line: AKA is still one of the best hip-hop performers in South Africa, I’m just really not sure about the autotune.

Photography and videography: Sabelo Mkhabela