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MK Akimi’s story is a classic case of the from-rags-to-riches tale. His life is encapsulated in US/Canadian rapper Drake’s hit song Started From the Bottom. Starting out as a struggling artist, MK Akimi (pictured) had no idea that one day there was going to be a light at the end of the tunnel. He did not know that the light would result from a chance meeting with Kwaito star Zola, and that it would change his fortune.
“A friend of mine who knew that I was into music saw Zola and told him about me,” said MK Akimi.
The intriguing thing about that meeting was that Zola had already heard of MK Akimi and he was eager to hear and to meet the man.
“We met and we discussed making music together, which was something I found really appealing because I have always looked up to Zola and so working with him was a dream come true,” said MK Akimi.
Years would go by as Zola took the young music enthusiast under his wing and taught him a thing or two about production. Here MK Akimi sharpened his skills and he peeked into the music industry and saw it for what it was.
“I started backing Zola and we travelled to a lot of places together. I learnt a lot through all that and yet at the time I had no inclination to make music for myself.
“I simply enjoyed being in that creative space that would help other people’s projects look and sound good,” he said.
Zola noticed and persuaded MK Akimi to look into making his own music. He even made things easier by signing the protege under his label. This obviously meant that MK Akimi would have the tools needed to make music for free and for as long as he needed to.
“It was a very exciting time for me, but unfortunately it didn’t really work out well,” he revealed with melancholy.
It would take him another while before he cracked the surface. Although he may have been tired of trying, the hunger to succeed pushed him to try again and he got his project off the ground the second time around.
“My album is called City of Choice and this is because I am from Pietermaritzburg where the slogan is ‘city of choice’. But the explanation has two meanings, because it also stands for what Johannesburg is about. It is a place where you have so many choices and you choose whether to make it or not. It is not easy, but it is not impossible. All you have is the choice to select to proceed and get it or just sit in your failure,” he said.
To make his album have a fair chance at competing against other Kwaito offerings, MK Akimi called in some established talents and he got crooner Malik, rapper Zuluboy and Zola to collaborate.
“It was great working with these great minds. I had worked with Malik on other projects and so it was an honour to have him on my project,” said the man excitedly.
Each song had its own demands especially Inkonyane, a deep traditional Zulu song.
“It is that song that is sung in our culture when the traditional healer returns from an important transformation job. We liked it but we started wondering what we could add to have it sound as traditional as possible. Then someone suggested Zuluboy, who we called and he agreed. He came through, turned out to be a very cool guy and we came up with some catchy material. It was an excellent idea to have him on there,” he said.
With the serious demand that City of Choice is getting, MK Akimi is being forced into releasing the first video for the album soon.
“We are yet to decide which song we will go with for the video, but what I am sure of is the fact that the shoot is scheduled for next month,” he said.
Just like his peers who live in the digital era, MK Akimi believes there is less need to release physical CDs and rather sells his music digitally.
“There is really no need for us (musicians) to release CDs these days because people do not want to buy packages. They want to buy a specific song that they like and leave the ones which they don’t like. So most of my material is available on Vodacom and MTN’s digital platforms and on iTunes. It is unbelievable how far and wide my music has gone through the internet,” he said.
To the technologically challenged out there, there is no need to stress, as there are plans to release physical CDs of City of Choice in a month, but if you can’t wait there are places to find it.