On Friday, November 6, 2020, South African superstar rapper, AKA released ‘Bhovamania,’ his fourth body of work. The album is a follow-up to 2018 effort, ‘Touch My Blood.’
Bhovamania is probably AKA’s best-produced album after Levelz, but the worry remains its dearth of lyrical content to match. However, at no point did one get the feeling that AKA had lost the ability to deliver resonant lyrical content.
Instead, the feeling is that this is what AKA wants to talk about – braggadocio, debauchery, a few bars and feel-good production for a hedonistic hue. There are times when the braggadocio takes on unique resonance though.
One of such examples came on ‘Energy’ featuring Gemini Major. AKA raps, “Knowledge is power, I’m top of the mountain. I’m at the peak of my energy, I feel like Tony Montana…” as the thudding drums crash into the staccato strings and legato bass.
Gemini Major also raps about how he spends his money with his money. It didn’t take long before AKA descended back into the bland vanity though, “F*ck a debate, who got better cars? F*ck a debate, who got better bars?”
Another example of that substance came on, ‘Monuments’ as AKA raps, “It’s easy to stay home when you ain’t gotta deal with domestic abuse, please count your blessings… Thinking to myself was the only reason I started making music in the first place…”
Largely, AKA seems jaded and too laidback to bother. It could also be because he tried to make this album for a younger audience. However, he struggles to escape the lofty lyrical expectations of his OG status. As much as he has the right to make absolutely anything he wants, the raps seem recycled and too empty at some point and it all gets tiring.
He sounded like a mature Trap artist from Atlanta throughout the album. On ‘Mufasa’ he raps, “Over 10 years I don paid my dues. I don’t give a sh*t who mad… Everything I do is Dejavu, never Hushpuppi…”
But his flow scheme saves much of everything he’s saying by making those things sound more interesting – until you actually listen. His tendency for aphorism and bland braggadocio is also aided by moments of creativity like how he reworked Ayo Ajewole’s [Woli Agba] popular meme, “When I’m through with you, oh my gawd…”
Moozlie’s impressive verse is also a shining light on the song. The former MTVBase VJ’s rapper transition seems to be going impressively. Balanced songs like ‘Cross My Heart’ and ‘Holy Water’ fight to save the album’s content, but their respective claims to substance get diluted by AKA’s tendency for bland vanity.
‘Cross My Heart’ is also too long, but AKA’s raps between 1:21 and 1:46 are impressive as he discusses a 21-year-old woman from the heart. Any listener will be forgiven for accepting and appreciating songs like ‘Casino,’ ‘Finessin,’ and ‘Heavy Drank’ for what they are though. K.O’s verse on ‘Pretty Drank’ is also super flames – for what it is.
The guitar solo on ‘Holy Water’ is amazing as AKA talks about the consumption of vodka in the morning to deal with his mental health, loss and paranoia. He understands the destructive tendencies of that act. He raps, “What don’t kill you makes you stronger…”
He then borrows from Kanye West’s line from ‘Otis,’ as he raps, “ I should write all my lyrics in cursive…” On ‘Otis,’ West had rapped “Write my curses in cursive…”
‘Finessin’ seems to be screaming for involvement from kids like Zooci Coke Dope or Flvme. They could have provided the balance that AKA needs by complimenting him with their contemporary verses. The song literally subtly sounds like ‘Steppin’’ off RedLightDistrictby Flvme and Die Mondez.
AKA starts the song amazingly as he raps, “P*ssy, money, weed, that’s all I need…” He then descended into the problematic line, “If I take you shopping, you gon bow down on your knees…”
Somebody better keep that from the feminist – the song is still flames though… The woman on the hook is by far the star of this song. Kudos to AKA for putting her on it.
“All you basic b***ches is my menus…” is one of the best African lines of 2020 on one of the best rapped African hooks of 2020. L-Tido’s bar, “Fuck your opinion, you can keep it like a souvenir…” goes straight in too!
‘African Man’ is understandable for its commercial potential as a Dancehall track, but this album didn’t need it. The same goes for ‘Mr. Perfect.’ At 56 minutes, the album is also too long for just 13 tracks, man.
The Davido interpolation on ‘African Man’ is attractive though. AKA raps, “Shawty wants a million dollars…” It’s nice to see Africans inspire each other without hate.
Throughout the album, God and AKA’s faith remain central figures. On ‘Holy Water’ he raps, “God give me some perspective, direction to your message. We don’t really understand why you test us, take away before you bless us… I rediscover my purpose. All of my albums is classic…”
On ‘Monuments,’ he raps, “God forgive me for my mistakes, your holy spirit flowing in me like a river, Saint John, King James, LeBron James, K Paul, Bruce Wayne”
On ‘Cross My Heart,’ AKA refuses to talk about beef. But by ‘Monuments,’ he seems to take shots at someone when he raps, “I can’t relate because of the standards I put in place, you taking us backwards. I like your beats, but all your lyrics is plastic…”
For what it’s worth, ‘Monuments’ feels like a response to diss or a beef track in itself. It is also the most balanced song on this album. Everything on the song seems pungent and necessary, not like expletives. The beat is also ludicrous!
• 0-1.9: Flop
• 2.0-3.9: Near fall
• 4.0-5.9: Average
• 6.0-7.9: Victory
• 8.0-10: Champion
Pulse Rating: /10
Album Sequencing: 1.2/2
Songwriting and Themes: 0.8/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.2/2
6.2 – Victory