Award-winning rapper, KO is back with a new album after a difficult time in his life saw him shy from the limelight. The king of Skhanda music released his second studio album, Skhanda Republic 2 and he described it as his “most honest work yet”. 

After seeing major success in 2014 following the release of his debut album, Skhanda Republic, which debuted at number one on the charts and saw him walking away with three South African Music Awards statuettes in 2015, KO’s life took a turn he didn’t expect. 

The former Teargas member’s record label, CashTime, which had some of the country’s biggest rising stars signed to it, lost it’s artists. 

“It was a difficult time, I fell into depression and I am still dealing with it now. I have always been a person who gives, but maybe what I was giving was not enough and that’s when people started finding fault with me. There is also a lot of pressure handling your own career and others’, it’s not easy and that took a toll on me,” he said. 

He did admit that he is in a better place and is excited about his new album. 

“I started working on it early last year and when I had some music I took it to people I trust and whose opinions I value and they were very honest about the work I had produced at that point and told me that I needed to go back to the drawing board because whatever I put out, needed to be better than my previous album so that I could continue with the Skhanda Republic series. So I literally had to scrap what I had and start again,” he said. 

He decided to give himself some time to breathe again before going back to the drawing board and in May he was back in the studio. 

“With what happened with CashTime and with what people were saying about me, I was really depressed and it was affecting my work and my head space, but once I got into the studio for the second time, it took me four months to put the album together.”

Vulnerability

The rapper, whose real name is Ntokozo Mdluli, said that this album is unlike his previous one and that he made a conscious decision to show his vulnerability. 

“Although this is a follow up series album, my first album was just an introduction to who I am and the beats I can spit, there was no real message or story, but this new album has a story, a clear message. I want people to know that it’s okay to fall, as long as you pick yourself up and keep moving. 

"It’s an album of encouragement because I think I lot of people need that right now in the world we live in. The lyrical content is very motivational. Putting this album together was therapeutic for me and I hope it’s the same for people who listen to it,” he said. 

He added that fans would learn his personal story with this album. 

Although this is an album of motivation and persistence, it is also one that is socially conscious. 

“I am not a politically inclined person at all, but I do feel that artists should use their platform to conscientise society and highlight real issues that are affecting us all... It’s okay to rap about the good life and champagne, but let’s also speak about real issues,” he said.  

Before the album was released last week, he released No Feelings and Call Me featuring Nigeria’s Runtown. 

“No Feelings is about how we should not allow our feelings get the better of us, I think that sometimes our feelings prevent our growth and stop us from doing things we really should be doing. Call Me is a song I like because of its Afro beat sounds. On the album overall I wanted my original Skhanda sound, but also soulful music with a hip hop twist, so the sounds are unique and everyone will enjoy the melodies,” KO said. 

He was also certain that people were going to enjoy the album. 

“This album really excites me and I am glad it’s out. This was difficult but I can’t wait for people to hear it. I mean this album has even got me going out again and mingling with musicians and putting me in a creative space, which is great. Yes, depression is an ongoing battle, but considering everything I have been through, I’d like to believe that I am in a better place and I am happier,” he said.  

LiamKarabo