Kiernan “AKA” Forbes has always been vocal about not opening for international artists who come to perform in South Africa because according to him, show organisers do not afford local artists the same respect as the international acts.
He took to Twitter on Monday to share stories he says he heard about the “hectic mistreatment” of local artists at the J Cole concert on Saturday. “One artist told me he wasn’t even done recovering from his own performance, in his own dressing room. They cleared the entire backstage,” he tweeted, adding that the organisers tell artists every year that they will give them better treatment – a promise they never keep.
Recalling when he opened for Kanye West, he says no one was allowed to see him and when he drove into the backstage, artists were told to stay in their dressing rooms. The same happened at the J Cole concert, removing everyone from backstage and “shut down the entire road behind the dressing rooms for J Cole”, he said.
AKA says the mistreatment of local artists who open for international acts is what drove him to stop being an opening act. “Get treated like dirt in my own country? No thanks.”
The Dreamwork hitmaker, however, says people should not blame J Cole for getting what he asked for. “You can only get what you ask for or what you and the organisers agree on”.
Earlier this year, AKA announced on Twitter that he would no longer be performing at the Back2TheCity festival. AKA had last performed at the festival in 2011 and had said he felt the desire to make a comeback this year.
However, the rapper apparently had conditions he needed to be met in order for him to perform. In his statement, AKA said he wanted the festival organisers to make a “big deal” about him the same way they do about international acts.
He said he had asked for promotions leading up to the show, adding the performance was not about money, as he was prepared to do the show “effectively for free”, but just wanted his fans to experience “a certain level of production value”.
AKA said the show organisers failed to meet his conditions, as his name was confined to a “minor detail” on the flyer. According to Forbes, international acts Camp Lo, J Live, Skyzoo and Elzhi were promoted more, which led to his pulling out of the festival line-up.
He received a backlash on social media for pulling out of the show, with some saying the show would go on without him.