BATTLE OF THE RAPPERS
Money and pride at stake
The man who has spent the past decade carving out a spot at the pinnacle of South Africa’s music industry now wants to help prevent other South African personalities from being “ripped off” by record labels and “terrible” management deals.
Since releasing his first album in 2011, Kiernan Forbes, better known as AKA, has worked hard to get to where he is today.
On Thursday the multiple award-winning rapper, who has collaborated with international stars like Kanye West and Snoop Dogg and has sponsorship deals with brands like Reebok and Cruz vodka, will launch his latest business venture, Beam Digital.
The idea is that celebrities in all fields will communicate directly with their fans via mobile phone, cutting out agents and other middlemen.
It’s a change of pace for the Baddest hitmaker, who is notorious for his brash comments and “beefs” with other artists.
He said going into business had put him in a happier place because “there’s more to life than just making music — there’s making money”.
For a monthly R10 subscription fee, fans will get regular “personalised” text messages, voice calls, videos and pictures on their phones. The celebrities build a database of followers that they can present or sell to brand marketers.
Forbes said many artists and celebrities died poor, despite illustrious careers, because they were tied in to management deals that gave agents or record labels the bulk of the profit.
“People need to become owners,” he said. “We’ve been bled dry for way too long. It’s time for us to smarten up and realise we can’t sing songs forever . . . What am I going to do — perform and perform for the next five years?”
Forbes said it was now six years since his first album and he should not still be “flying up and down this country performing five times a weekend”.
“Yes, it’s great money, things are great, but I want to spend more time with my daughter.” Forbes, who charges up to R130 000 per show, has a massive following on social media along with his girlfriend, media personality Bonang Matheba. He said he was “in a good space” thanks to having left record company Vth Season to start his own. “It’s [because I am] in control of my own money. You can find a correlation . . . it’s no coincidence that when I was back there [Vth Season], not controlling my own money, that I was unhappy and negative and aggressive, and now when I am in control of my money, that I’m positive and happy. I was an angry person because I didn’t control my own destiny. Now I control my destiny and I’m happy.” Forbes, who turns 30 next year, said he might want to have more children. “How am I going to do that with the pressure to have hot music, and the only thing that is going to sustain me is whether I have hot music for the rest of my life. That’s ridiculous, it sounds stupid. I will make hot music for the rest of my life, but I won’t have to.”
Cassper Nyovest is so broke he’s had to sell three of his four Rolexes.
“This month some of my friends helped me pay my landscape architect [and] my helper. My electricity bill was paid by my friend. I sold my watches. I sold everything because I needed the money more than I needed the watches,” Nyovest said.
The reason for his financial woes? The rapper has sunk everything he owns into his concert at the FNB Stadium next weekend.
In 2015 he made history by being the first South African hip-hop artist to sell out the 20 000-capacity Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg. Last year he filled the 40 000-seater Orlando Stadium.
This Saturday Nyovest, whose real name is Refiloe Phoolo, will attempt to fill the 90 000-capacity FNB Stadium.
Nyovest has been hustling to secure sponsors for the event, an exercise that has been “demanding” on every level. Until a month ago, no major sponsors had been found and Nyovest was staring at the possibility of footing the R15-million bill himself.
“You can’t pull off a show like this without sponsors unless you’re raking in R100-million profit a year. I’m Cassper Nyovest and they still don’t sponsor me, they still don’t want to invest in me.
“I’m probably the biggest artist of my generation and corporate companies still don’t want to invest in us, they don’t want to help us.
“These people don’t care, we just need to accept that,” Nyovest said.
He said he had approached many businesses, including banks and alcohol brands. None was interested in supporting him. Then some of his industry friends, among them Black Coffee, Pearl Thusi, Riky Rick and Major League, spent thousands of rands on tickets.
He said the gesture made him realise that his dream was bigger than he was and that it had become about the entire South African music industry. Later Ciroc, SABC1, Standard Bank and Budweiser agreed to join as sponsors. “None of this money is coming to me. I went broke during this,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I got worried but I had to think deep about things.” But there was one offer Nyovest didn’t entertain — rival rapper AKA’s offer to collaborate on the event. AKA took to Twitter to say he would perform alongside Nyovest for R1-million, to which Nyovest responded with “Just Buy a Ticket, Broer”, sparking a slew of memes. The two, who are said to be the most popular rappers in the country, have had a tumultuous relationship. Nyovest said he did not think that AKA’s offer to help was “genuine” and that if it was, the rapper would have called to apologise.
Cassper Nyovest has been pleading poverty ahead of his concert at the FNB Stadium on Saturday. But now he says help is at hand.
Rapper AKA says artists need to cut loose from the record labels and agents that bleed them dry.
Nyovest is known for his Rolexes, he drives a Bentley and is backed by Ciroc
AKA’s fave things include his gold teeth, a BMW i8, and sponsorship by Cruz.