KO. PIcture: Supplied

After the successful release of Skhanda Republic in 2014, KO met with unexpected challenges that pushed him to take a back seat and recuperate.

The award-winning rapper and former member of the acclaimed Teargas said the tough season that followed posed a threat to his brand. 

On the other hand, it inspired him to take a new road of music with a grander plan.

“All this affected my momentum as an artist because rumours and speculations ended up tarnishing what I was trying to do.”

This called for a break.

“I figured that I should take a little break to try and figure out what I was going to do. I also used that time to train and make sure that when I came out I was in top form and shape.”

With no distractions in sight and 11 years served in the industry, KO - real name Ntokozo Mdluli - is back to make a lasting mark.

“Being an artist of my creed and coming from the Pro Kid era, I want people to champion me as the greatest. I want to make great music like Jay-Z.”

His upcoming album, which was a year in the making, is due to be released in October, and KO labels it “a work in process”.

“The process took a little bit of time because, when I was working on it, the stuff that I was doing was still likened to my old album.

“And with about 50% of the album done, I took heed of the talks and added a 2017 element to it. I had to go back and redo the whole album,” said the rapper.

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But some working styles never change. As with his previous album, KO has grabbed inspiration from South Africa’s heritage, its musical history and its culture and given it his own interpretation by making it sound recent and futuristic. But none of his new songs is like anything he has done before.

“It’s also a very melodic album, as people love the R&B twist to songs. It’s been proven with my last track featuring Nandi Madida and some from Teargas such as Mhlobo wami.

“People love those so I’m giving them more,” he said.

KO doesn’t feel pressured by his long-awaited return, but is confident that his music will leave a “dent”.

The upcoming music transcends geographical boundaries but remains authentic to who he is, he added.

Of his future plans, he said: “Because I now regard myself as a legacy artist, I have placed a greater vision on the music that I make. The target is the entire continent and the rest of the world.

“I want to make more frequent trips outside of the country and have my music in all these different territories. The bigger the market, the bigger the income and that is what I am chasing.”

He is still very much business-orientated and has founded a business, Skhanda Republic.

“I want my music to have a lasting mark and indicate that I am back for good.”