South African rapper AKA recently took to Twitter to criticise the selection of an American ‘headline’ artist at an upcoming Johannesburg hip-hop festival. Was it just a case of sour grapes, or did he raise a very valid concern?
American rapper Ace Hood is set to perform alongside some of the best local talent in SA this weekend as part of the Project Maboneng street festival in downtown Johannesburg on Saturday 28 March. Local artists on the bill include hip-hop heavyweights Cassper Nyovest, Okmalumkoolkat, Riky Rick, iFani, Stilo, Kid X and Kwesta.
But AKA - who is not even on the bill himself - believes that the local artists at the show should not be ‘supporting’ the American rapper but that the ‘Bugatti’ hitmaker should be their opening act instead!
Between 10:30am and 12:30pm on Monday 23 March, AKA vented his frustrations in Twitter:
- “Good luck 2 everyone opening for Ace Hood" - 10:43am, 23 Mar 2015
- “Maybe Ace Hood can give someone a verse!!! Imagine!!! That would be so great!!!... Please Mr Hood, pick me! Pick me!" - 10:57am, 23 Mar 2015
- “If Maboneng really wants to make a statement … Ace Hood must open for Cassper, Kid X, OKMalumkoolkat etc…” - 12:15pm, 23 Mar 2015
- “Also, let us pray for those opening for Rick Ross in Durban" - 12:17pm, 23 Mar 2015
- “WE MUST MAKE IT UNCOOL AND UNPOPULAR FOR PROMOTERS TO MAKE US SUBSERVIENT TO B GRADE INTL ACTS IN OUR OWN COUNTRY” - 12:20pm, 23 Mar 2015
Event organiser George Avakian was at pains to point out that all artists had equal billing, and that Hood was therefore not the main act. However it’s highly doubtful that the local artists’ booking fees compare to the costs involved of bringing an American artist out for one performance. A local promoter who wished to remain anonymous questioned the financial feasibility of the event given the amount of money that would have been spent on Hood, also doubting how much of a drawcard Hood really is to local hip-hop heads.
AKA soon apologised to Avakian for possibly offending him.
- “Sorry if I offended you @GeorgeAvakian ... I'm sure you're going to have a great event and all the SA artists will be happy” - 3:51pm, 23 Mar 2015
Although AKA is seldom far from controversy himself, his comments clearly struck a nerve, inspiring heated debate on social networks this week, with many music fans agreeing with him that local promoters often don’t give credit where it’s due and fail to treat local artists with the same degree of respect as American acts. Let’s see if local promoters and sponsors take any notice…