He shook the country with the release of his fourth highly-anticipated album and teased fans by hinting it might be his last – which is why he had to make it count. It’s called Touch My Blood for a reason, AKA says it’s raw and personal and addresses everything people want to know about him.
"The album focuses on my thoughts and emotions. It’s unguarded. I wasn’t afraid to be vulnerable and share what’s been happening in my life,” he said.
And that includes the dark days he went through following his break-up with Bonang Matheba at the end of last year. His new offering was cathartic and now he’s a man on the mend, he tells us. Just don’t expect him to go into detail about why he and Bonang split, he cautions. That, it seems, is going to remain a mystery.
“I understand there is curiosity, but I will not take people through why we broke up. I think that needs to stay between me and her. There is a respectability in not speaking about the small things and I don’t think it’s right to share everything.”
AKA – real name Kiernan Forbes – is chatting to us over a late lunch at a restaurant in Illovo, Joburg. He orders a double shot of his branded bottle of Cruz watermelon infused vodka and a starter portion of grilled squid heads before getting down to business. Although he won’t get into the nitty gritty of the breakup, he will admit it hurt. A lot. But it helped him learn to love himself and appreciate the genuine people in his life, he adds.
“I’ve never been happier than I am right now, and I owe some of this happiness to the break-up. I’m calmer now. I know my character, I know who I am, and I know what I have time and patience for.”
He believes he “invests too much in love” and the collapse of his relationship made him realise this. “I’ve always thrown everything I have into a relationship. I’m a relationship type, but for the first time I can say I’m in a relationship with myself.”
His healing began when it became apparent Bonang didn’t miss him. “I definitely missed her – I missed being with her and laughing with her and when I realised she didn’t miss me, I had to let go. She made me not miss her.”
He now has more time for himself, AKA says. “I had to experience the pain and get over the hurt. I went to the gym, I ate a lot of fish and expensive meals, I drank a lot of alcohol and partied a lot to try to get over the hurt and now I’m okay. “In fact, I’m doing just great.”
Bonang (31) and AKA’s break-up was the talk of Mzansi and their millions of social media followers have been glued to their accounts for months, desperate for titbits. Probably the oddest post of the lot was when AKA went on Twitter recently, detailing finding rocks in his cupboard.
“You think you know someone until you unpack all their shit and find rocks tied up in a plastic bag in your bedroom cupboard,” he wrote. “I’m not talking about bath salts . . . I’m talking the type of rocks you pull out of a river. What are they doing wrapped up in my bedroom? I don’t know. I never thought I would end up feeling so bitter about love.”
He decided to clean up his home after the break-up, he tells us now, and found the “mysterious” stones. “I was looking through my stuff in the house and cleaning out the closet when I found them in the bedroom. It was creepy and weird, almost ritualistic and spiritual. I showed my friends and they told me to get rid of that creepy sh*t,” he says.
“Who puts stones and crystals in a weird plastic bag in the closet? It was bizarre.”
Returning to the studio to record his latest album was a haven for the musician and he enjoyed mixing things up.
“My previous albums were really centred on sounds and based on samples and hip-hop drums. But this one is driven by emotion, a time, a place, my heart and my mind.”
So, could it really be his last? Maybe, the 30-year-old says. He wants to concentrate more on his business ventures at his arts and entertainment enterprise, Beam Group. And then, of course, there’s the number one person in his life.
Kairo, his daughter with DJ Zinhle (34), is the apple of his eye.
Now that his period of mourning for his break-up is well and truly over, he’s enjoying spending as much time with his little girl – who turns three this month – as possible, in between marketing his new album. There has been speculation he and Zinhle are back together but it’s not true, he says.
“She’s the mother of my child. She’s a beautiful woman, someone who’ll always be there because we share a daughter, but we are definitely not back together.
“We will always be in each other’s lives. As far as a relationship is concerned, we’re in a serious long-term relationship – there is a child involved. But it’s not an intimate love affair.”
He takes his role as a father very seriously, AKA says. “I’m still learning to be a good father. My daughter has helped me mature and grow as a man. I’m a bit more patient now. I think a little bit more before I speak because I understand there are consequences that could affect my entire family.
“The old AKA was reactionary. Now I decide what to respond to, but I’m far from tame. I still feel like I can speak my mind and I’m never scared to speak up, but I now know what works for me. I cannot live my life worried about what people will think.”
He is in a better place in his life and wants to share his success and happiness. He recently partnered with his mother, Lynn Forbes, in community projects.
“Not so long ago, I dropped off all my old sneakers for Special Olympics South Africa. We also delivered food parcels to underprivileged families in Joburg.”
Life has been good to him and he wants to share his good fortune. The Magriza rapper will start the AKA Foundation this year to help him achieve this goal.
“My music makes people feel good and I want to share my blessings with others too.” All in all, sounds like a good fresh start. Several attempts to contact Bonang for comment were unsuccessful.