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Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

AKA To Fellow Artists: “You Not Making Hot Shit, That’s Why Radio Isn’t Playing You”

AKA believes all it takes to get played on radio is to "make hot shit." We don't believe him.

Almost everyone in the South African music industry agrees that mainstream radio is flawed. Many up-and-coming artists and some established acts struggle to get their music played on radio, which is still a very important platform in South Africa. Compilers either play it safe by playing the big guns or, as has been reported many times, accept payola to place songs on playlists.


All the above has been a hot topic of discussion for years to this day as it still persists. The latest example was with the rapper Flex Rabanyan, who admitted to having paid payola, but his song still didn't get any airplay. More about that here.

While many fans, artists and industry insiders agree that the fault is with the stations and their compilers, the rapper AKA has a unique take.

While on holiday, somewhere far from South Africa, the artist gave fellow artists advice in a live video on Instagram.

"I see a lot of people complaining like, 'it's a dirty game, it's a dirty game,'" said the artist. "I got the remedy. Let me tell you why radio is not playing your shit. It's 'cause your shit doesn't bang, bro. You not making hot shit. That's why the radio isn't playing you. Make hot shit and you'll get airplay. The reason you not getting airplay is because your shit is not dope. That's it."

This is interesting, coming from one of the most played artists on South African radio. AKA is either indirectly using himself as an example—he makes dope shit and thus he gets played on radio, he added during the clip that he's been making hot shit for more than 10 years, and his music gets played on radio. But he could also speaking from a place of privilege. He is oversimplifying things—there have been many examples of artists struggling to get airplay from radio even though their music was dope. Flex is one example.

The veteran rapper Blaklez has also revealed he has been asked to pay payola. He recently told TSHISA Live:

"I really don't wanna comment too much on it, all I can say is I have never done it and I will never do it. I just found myself in that situation yesterday because we have an album out and we are trying to push a single. The person that we got as our point person to submit, he came to us and said, 'Well here's the situation at that particular radio station."

In 2017, Riky Rick, during his acceptance speech at the Metro FM Awards, spoke out about the corruption in the music industry.

"There's a lot of people that struggle to put music out in this country, and I feel like there's too many structures that are blocking people from putting out the dopest music," said Riky. "90% of the shit I hear on radio is garbage. The stuff is living on the Internet, everything is on the internet right now. So if you're a kid and you're watching this right now, forget radio. If they don't let you play on radio, you better go to the Internet and make your songs pop on the Internet."

Getting played on radio in South Africa is an extreme sport, especially for independent artists. Cassper Nyovest, a mega star of note, has also complained about not getting the amount of airplay he feels his music deserves. He hinted that him signing a deal with Universal Music Group was because he felt some platforms were reserved for artists with deals.

Two years ago, the rapper Priddy Ugly told me in an interview that it was near impossible for his music to get played on radio. But within weeks of signing a deal with Ambitiouz Entertainment, his then new single "In The Mood Remix" was playing on many major radio stations.

Maybe it's not always payola at play, but surely making hot shit alone won't guarantee an artist a spot on the playlist of major radio stations. AKA is oversimplifying the issue. Thousands of emerging artists can all attest to that.

You can watch the rest of AKA's ramblings below:


Read: 'Touch My Blood' Is AKA's Most Layered Album

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Prominent Zimbabwean Activist  Sheds Light on Current Crisis

Doug Coltart, a vocal activist and human rights lawyer based in Harare, speaks to Okayafrica about what's currently happening in Zimbabwe.

A few days ago, the Zimbabwean government issued a directive to major cellular network providers Econet and TelOne to disable the internet and all access to social media. The directive was an attempt to prevent any information from spreading outside the country's borders with regards to the nationwide protests which have led to the deaths of at least five people and the injury of at least twenty-five others.

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The front page of The New York Times on January 16, 2019

Kenyans Are Furious at the New York Times for Posting Photos of Terrorist Victims

After the the deadly attack on Tuesday, many are accusing the American newspaper of having a double standard on which dead bodies they allow into the paper

Is the New York Times guilty of a double standard when it comes to publishing images of dead bodies?

Kenyans, and others fed up with the coverage, took to social media in the hundreds to denounce a Times article that included an image of victims of Tuesday's Nairobi terrorist attack, bloodied from bullets, and lying hunched over their laptops, dead.

It has cause enough debate online to where the Times' incoming East Africa Bureau chief Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura felt the need to explain their photo policy, which is to show the dead only if their faces cannot be seen in the image. The photo in question fits the policy as the faces are facing away from the camera. She would later apologize before posting the official policy to her Twitter account. The photo remains up.

The Times' official response, as those tend to do online, has only created more anger. But unlike many unruly Twitter mobs, those responding to the official statement have a rather coherent message—"you wouldn't do this with photos of the American dead."

Some of the responses to the Times' official statement.

In a response to the controversy from the Poynter Institute, a typically astute observer of journalistic practice in the United States, they run through the typical American journalism school approach to publishing photos that might shock or offend. They write:

Should the Times have run the photo?
There is no easy answer.
The first question any news organization must ask when deciding to publish violent images is: WHY show it?
In other words, what is the news value? Does the public need to see such an image to fully grasp what happened? Does the public need to see such a photo to confirm or disprove the official account of the events?
An argument could be made that a writer's words could accurately describe the scene without being as disturbing as the image. In addition, when it comes to an act of terrorism, might publishing such a photo actually advance the cause of the terrorists, showing the damage they caused, thus fueling dread and panic?
Also this: The photo on the Times website came without warning. As a reader, you didn't know you were going to see a photo of dead people until you actually saw it.
Those are arguments to not run such a photo or, at least, warn readers of its graphic content.

While it's a fine analysis of when to show a violent image, it misses the central issue at play for those aggrieved by the Times' posting—that the American news-gaze values certain lives differently. Black, brown, foreign, poor—American journalism organizations, including the New York Times, cannot escape a base ethnocentrism in their coverage. It's so embedded into how these institutions operate, and the gap in understanding is so wide, that to much of the world, the Times' official response is laughably wrong at first glance.

"We take the same approach wherever in the world something like this happens--balancing the need for sensitivity and respect with our mission of showing the reality of these events"

And while there are examples from the Times that complicate this feeling, like these images of the dead in the terrorist attack in Nice, France, it doesn't discount the wider and correct feeling that the white victims of American mass shootings are treated differently than their African counterparts. And while there are complicated and systematic reasons for this which will always make discussing it difficult, to simply deny that different standards exist, does not increase the Times' credibility with Kenyans or the newspaper's growing online audience which will only become more vocal about how they're portrayed.

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Falz 'Moral Instruction'

The 10 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

The best music of the week featuring Falz, King Monada, Zlatan, Yemi Alade and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our Best Music of the Week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow OkayAfrica on Spotify and Apple Music to get immediate updates every week and read about some of our selections ahead.

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