South African rapper Kiernan Forbes, better known by his stage name AKA, left behind a remarkable legacy when he passed away earlier this month. His final album, Mass Country, is a testament to his talent and love for his home country, featuring a mix of local sounds and collaborations with some of South Africa’s hottest hip-hop talent. The album was produced and completed before his death, and is both a parting gift to his fans and a love letter to South Africa.
One of the ways AKA’s music is continuing to be shared with fans all over the world is through Spotify, a global streaming platform that features Mass Country. Spotify’s data shows that while South Africa makes up the largest single market for AKA’s music at 38%, the vast majority of listeners (62%) are streaming from elsewhere in the world. The UK, USA, Sweden, and Germany round out the top 5 markets for his music.
Warren Bokwe, Lead Music Strategy and Operations for Spotify Sub-Saharan Africa, says, “Spotify is a platform dedicated to supporting African artists and providing them with a place to grow their global fanbases, so this kind of data is a testament to AKA’s talent and the power of streaming.”
To further promote AKA’s music on a global scale, Spotify will feature Mass Country on a billboard in New York’s Times Square. This billboard has previously showcased other South African artists, providing a platform to share homegrown talent with international audiences.
AKA’s popularity on Spotify is evident from the staggering number of user-generated playlists featuring his songs, which total over 630,000. All Eyes on Me, his most popular song to be playlisted, features Nigerian artist Burna Boy and long-time collaborators Da L.E.S and JR. Fela in Versace, from his third studio album Touch My Blood, features on over 128,000 playlists. Even the first single from Mass Country, Lemons (Lemonade), featuring Nasty C, is already AKA’s third most playlisted song, despite having only been released in September last year.
AKA’s music career began in high school with rap trio Entity, alongside Vice Versa and Greyhound. In 2011, he broke onto the music scene as a solo act with his debut album Altar Ego. Spotify data tracks his meteoric rise and growing popularity with each new album. His sophomore album, Levels, was able to reach the 1 million streams mark on Spotify in 19 months, while Touch My Blood raced to a million streams in just 11 months.
In the wake of AKA’s untimely death, streams of his music on Spotify have increased by 743%. His mother, Lynn Forbes, says, “Kiernan was so proud of Mass Country. As a family, it was a pleasure to see his music’s evolution over the years. He played us this album over and over again. We’re happy the world finally gets to hear it.”
AKA’s posthumous album Mass Country is not just a love letter to South Africa, but a global sensation that showcases his remarkable talent and contributions to the world of music.