AKA, Cassper Nyovest & South Africa's Biggest Hip-Hop Beef
Tracing the Cassper Nyovest and AKA rapper beef and numerous diss tracks between two of South Africa's biggest rappers.
It all began with a tweet. In April of 2014, Cassper Nyovest claimed shrewdly that his song “Doc Shebeleza" was the biggest song in South African hip-hop. “No.1 on iTunes, not Zippyshare... know the difference," read the response from AKA, whose latest hit at the time “Congratulate" was number one on South Africa's iTunes charts. The rapper deleted his tweets in a few hours' time. Cassper's “Doc Shebeleza," like many of his hits, was available for free on the popular yet shady site, Data File Host. It had been downloaded more than a 100,000 times.
It has been an AKA vs Cassper Nyovest tug of war ever since. Asked on Pulse Nigeria TV what started the Cassper and AKA rapper beef, AKA blamed it all on ego. “To make the long story short," he said, “this is rap music and rap music is all about 'I do this better than you, I got this watch, I got this.' So when the art is based on being competitive, people are gonna clash, and egos are gonna come into contact."
A lot of subliminal tweets on both rappers' timelines were how the feud would unroll for the next few months. It took a while for the beef to reflect on wax. In the beginning of July, Cassper released his Brian Soko-produced single “Phumakim." “I told my story, and made a fortune – [I'm] AKA's favorite rapper, I guess I made it on the Forbes List," rapped Nyovest on the second verse. AKA hit back on his Tweezy-produced song “Sim Dope" off his Levels album, which came out just after “Phumakim," “I'm in this bitch with Mandela/ They pulled my name out the envelope, you should fuck with the winners/ You got some buzz from your singles but that's just some luck for beginners."
Cassper has mostly played humble during the course of the beef, he's the new kid and feels the industry favors AKA, who has been in the industry a lot longer than him. On “I Hope You Bought It," the opening track from his debut album Tsholofelo, the rapper expressed how he's been unfairly treated in the industry. “My advice comes from n*ggas who don't rap/ They believe in the man/ Which is part of the reason that I believe that I can/ Compilers making me struggle they ain't feeling the man/ Wish the media would treat me like Kiernan [AKA's real name] and 'em," he rapped vulnerably. Talking to Pulse Nigeria TV recently, the rapper clarified that he didn't have a problem with AKA. “I don't have anything going on with AKA. He has something going on with me. If you go on my social media, it's always me trying to clarify matters," he said. “I just want people to know what's going on, I'm never coming at him. I just reply so people know the truth and I move on. 'Cause I got bigger things to deal with. I'm doing a show at The Dome, trying to make history. I feel like if AKA should just shut up and make music, people would respect him because his music is great."
Trouble in Cape Town
The two emcees forced fans to choose between them when they headlined shows in different venues in Cape Town on the same night in August 2014. Veteran rapper and blogger, Slikour, joined the conspiracy theorists who felt the two's beef was plotted probably for publicity. “Surely this is planned? No? I rate AKA and Cassper sat down and plotted this beef thing," he wrote on his Slikour On Life site. Rapper Khuli Chana, who was performing at the Cassper event, shared his thoughts on the two rappers' feud. “I'm a huge AKA fan, he's my laaitie, Cassper is my laaitie," he said. “It would be nice to be one big family but I gotta be honest I find it a little bit interesting as well. Hip-hop is a competition. Big ups to them, I just hope it never gets to a Biggie and Pac situation. At the end of the day I've always been about building. I hope eventually we get to that place where we are building again as a community."
Cassper Claims AKA's Crew Pulled A Gun On Him
A few days after the two had performed in Cape Town, the beef promised to be taking the route Chana hoped it wouldn't. Both AKA and Cassper Nyovest were scheduled to perform on SABC 1's popular Friday night music show Live Amp when the latter tweeted that someone from AKA's camp had pulled out a gun on him. “I will not be performing on LIVE tonight," he shared on his social media. “I get to the make-up room and AKA's homie pushes me. I ask him not to and he pulls out a gun on me. I walked out and then and there I decided I will not do this stupid shit no more. This is not the first time I have a gun to my face. I lived the gun life for real and I chose rap over it. Y'all wanna live that life? See where it [takes] y'all… go on." AKA's explanation to his Twitter followers was simple: “I thought about it... since I didn't do anything, I don't owe anyone an explanation... no statement from me, just hit records." Cassper opened a case. Prince Nyemba, the AKA affiliate who was accused of pulling out the gun released a statement denying the allegations. AKA announced in the beginning of November that the charges against him and his camp had been dropped.
Cassper and the MTV Base List
Towards the end of November, MTV Base compiled their controversial list of 10 of the 'hottest' South African emcees, placing Cashtime Life's K.O on the number one spot. Cassper came second and AKA came third. The list enraged a lot of heads and artists. Reason, who was number six, released a short song “F.WS" expressing that he deserved the number one spot. Kwesta released “King Speech." AKA was surprisingly calm and he congratulated both Cassper and K.O for their positions. Cassper though, who also felt he deserved to be number one, released “Beef," again expressing his frustrations on how the industry overlooks him and sending not-so-subtle messages to AKA. He also threw a jab at K.O (I'm cool with number 2 /'cause I'm richer than number 1), which he later apologized for.
Cassper Attempts To Smoke Peace Pipe
In the beginning of December, Cassper posted on his Facebook page that he wanted to collaborate with both K.O and AKA. “I want to do a song with AKA and K.O #WeThePowerCircle," read the post which was accompanied by a pic of the rapper posing next to his red BMW. Hip-hop fans were excited at the possibility of a song by the three. But that excitement was short-lived, AKA's response came in two consecutive tweets. “I have a real serious question to ask… U ready?" read the first one. “What's going on with these amateurs over the internet posting some messages?" he tweeted in all caps, quoting a line by K.O from “Run Jozi," his collaborative track with the Cashtime Life rapper.
At this point it was clear to everybody that Cassper had had enough of the beef and just wanted it to end. AKA, clearly, didn't feel the same. At the South African Hip Hop Awards, the two sat in close proximity to each other. AKA prodded Nyovest during the awards ceremony and instagrammed a video of the incident with the caption: “I don't talk shit on records or in interviews... I'll do it to your face." “I been chirping him all night. We don't need diss tracks, I'm right here and he star-struck," AKA tweeted. “N*ggas talk shit about all you all year then can't say a word to you when the two seats away." AKA's actions were condemned as crass and unnecessary by many fans.
The Time The Beef Was Squashed
A few days later, one day before Christmas, AKA tweeted a pic of him and Cassper next to a swimming pool in what looked like a hotel. The caption read: “#Squashed #MerryChristmas." It was finally over, everyone was looking to new beginnings in the new year for the two.
Boity At The MAMAs
The first half of 2015 was quiet for the two and everyone was convinced they had finally put their differences aside. Some of us had forgotten about it until at the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs) held in Durban where Cassper took the Best Hip Hop award. TV personality, Boity Thulo, who also happens to be Cassper's girlfriend stepped into the rappers' feud. When presenting the award for Best Collaboration to AKA for his Burna Boy and Da L.E.S-assisted hit, “All Eyez On Me" on the night, she said to the audience, “Cassper wins everything anyway." She announced that AKA was the winner with no conviction in her voice and, after, stepped away as the rapper and his collaborators gave their acceptance speech. After getting the MAMAs nod as the best hip hop act in Africa, most rappers would be complacent. Not Cassper. It's as if the award revealed his own potential to him, it made him hungrier and mostly made him realize how possible it was to achieve his dreams. A few days after the award ceremony, the rapper announced that he was attempting to fill up Jo'burg's TicketPro Dome venue (colloquially known as The Dome) which has a capacity of 20,000. No local artist has filled up the venue, even some international superstars like Trey Songz have failed.
AKA Slaps Cassper
Cassper's energy seemed to be more focused on filling up the dome than on entertaining AKA. We were hearing less and less about the two's issues. Until one Friday morning early August when Cassper tweeted that AKA just slapped him in a club in Sandton, Johanessburg, “So @akaworldwide comes up 2 my table in a club & slaps me. You'll probably deny this like you always do but its fine. Just want u 2 know this." AKA denied the allegation. “I need to clear the record. These are false allegations. I DID NOT slap the shit out of someone tonight. I do NOT condone violence," he tweeted. He later admitted to slapping the motswako rapper. He tweeted, “At the end of the day there are people doing their utmost to damage my reputation. Okay, yes, I did smack Nyovest… But this is crazy." He later deleted the tweet, as his management instructed him, he said. Well, not until someone had taken screen shots.
On the same morning DJ Zinhle, AKA's baby-mama, while being interviewed on Metro FM, shared her thoughts on the beef between his baby-daddy and Nyovest. “I just don't feel anything about it," she said. “I don't know, I don't understand it, I don't get it. I don't get why people don't get each other. I don't get what's going on. I don't have a full idea of what's going on in their minds for me to even get involved."
After approximately a month of welcoming their baby, AKA and DJ Zinhle broke up because according to Zinlhe, AKA cheated on her with TV personality Bonang Matheba. In what could have been a gesture to make AKA jealous, she even tweeted that she was going to buy her ticket to Cassper's Fill Up The Dome concert.
AKA's diss track to Cassper “Composure" came unexpectedly. The rapper had just announced that he was releasing new music, without hinting it was a diss record. On the track, which was released in the beginning of September, AKA addressed a lot of people including Cassper, iFani, Anatii and Riky Rick. After breaking up with DJ Zinhle, beefing a bit with rapper iFani, appearing on Tim Westwood's show, his Levels album going gold and of course the Cassper beef, the man had a lot to get off his chest. Quotable after quotable, he reduced Cassper to ashes, “My niggas in position when they ring the bell/ They gonna get your pony tail like a Holy Grail/ That's the problem with you new school cats/ Took your whole style from Malumkoolkat/ I got my hands in the dirt/ Such a pity you can't dance on a verse." He revealed that Anatii, who featured AKA on his track “The Saga", charged him R80 000 for beat, even though he was the reason the song was a hit. Consensus favoured “Composure," AKA had excelled. After more than a year, he had finally taken the beef to lyrics the way beef has always been traditionally handled in hip-hop.
Cassper Responds With “Dust To Dust"
All eyes were on Cassper to respond. After two weeks, the rapper released “Dust To Dust." The track, an extremely personal attack on AKA, plays as an exposé of AKA's personal and professional life. Cassper accuses AKA of being on cocaine, being kicked out of a townhouse owned by house music legend, Oskido. He also accuses him of not writing most of the lyrics of “Congratulate" and using vernacular rappers to stay relevant to the hood. He digs back to a few years back when AKA was beefing with L-Tido and questions his friendship with Da L.E.S. Lines like “Zinhle left you in public and I don't blame you, sis/ They say it's nearly impossible to raise two kids" and “… You getting all the deals that I turned down/ I denied that Hunters ad, I'm a business man/ You accepted 450, I denied a million rand/ 'cause I'm worth more, plus you only get half of it", among others were low blows leading to some heads declaring “Dust To Dust" a South African version of Tupac's “Hit 'Em Up."
The biggest criticism towards “Dust To Dust" was Cassper's clumsy delivery. Respected lyricist Tumi Molekane shared his thoughts on the song and the feud in a few tweets. “This battle will go down as one of those 'who do you prefer' battles. AKA was lyrically superior. Cass was personal AF. That's my word," he tweeted.
Boyzn Bucks member Riky Rick, in a series of tweets, said he felt the whole game was against the Boyzn Bucks affiliate, Cassper. “Y'all thinking @CassperNyovest is battling @akaworldwide but the WHOLE game is against him. When you are successful, people want you to fail." He went on to tweet that artists and DJs are siding with AKA, they supported his “Composure" when they had called for peace when Cassper released “Beef".
The question everybody has is if AKA will record a response to “Dust to Dust". And if we will ever see the end of this AKA vs Cassper Nyovest feud.