The escalating bickering between rappers AKA and Cassper Nyovest – whose real names are Kiernan Forbes and Refiloe Phoolo, respectively – has earned them millions of rands in free publicity.
That’s according to online monitoring company BrandsEye, which compiled a social-listening report for City Press showing how much free marketing the two appear to have amassed in just the past two weeks.
The company found that their spat – which in recent weeks escalated to “diss” tracks and resulted in Nyovest tightening his personal security – is possibly worth R23 million in free advertising on Facebook and Twitter alone.
According to the report, after Nyovest released his track Dust2Dust, in which he trashes AKA, there were 49 974 online conversations about their fight. A total of 30 006 people participated in the conversations, leading to a potential audience of more than 1 million social-media users.
BrandsEye found that the “sentiment distribution” over the two-week tracking period was fairly similar, with both AKA and Nyovest receiving equal amounts of positive and negative comments. However, fans appear not to be altogether happy, because there was “a higher degree of negative conversation directed towards both artists over the period”.
The available location data of the users, the company found, showed that most of the online conversations were taking place mainly in South Africa, with more than 17 500 mentions, but also in Nigeria (2 468), the US (506), Botswana (485) and Zambia (209).
AKA earns between R65 000 and R85 000 per performance, while Nyovest’s performance fee is set at a standard R85 000.
Both rappers have to pay their live bands from their earnings. However, the two are in great demand and stage up to five gigs a week.
Although some rap aficionados believe the brawl between AKA and Nyovest is a classic hip-hop marketing strategy, the two have proved to many that their beef, which began two years ago, is genuinely personal.
Thebe Ikalafeng, branding expert and head of strategy at Brand Leadership, says the dispute has been going on for so long that he doesn’t think it’s an effective marketing strategy.
“If it is one, it’s the most damaging I’ve seen in a while. The public spat between these two talented and very successful South African artists is rather unfortunate, because it seems more personal than professional if their latest songs are any evidence,” he said.
Last Friday, Nyovest caused a stir when he released diss track Dust2Dust after AKA released Composure, in which he criticises Nyovest.
Dust2Dust, however, ups the ante and Nyovest makes serious allegations in it, including that AKA uses drugs.
On Wednesday, AKA hit back in a freestyle performance during Metro FM’s Touchdown show. He said that although he did not want to address the fight, he had noticed that Nyovest had increased his security since the feud became more serious.
Ikalafeng said: “They’re destroying each other. We have plenty of examples in South Africa of what uncontrolled and unmanaged meltdowns can do in the long term.”
The two stood to not only damage their record sales, but also their bookings.
“It will hurt when it comes to being booked for shows or considered for sponsorship because brands will shy away from being associated with them,” he said.
It might look like an entertaining spectacle now, but in the long run, it could be damaging because it concerned their characters and values rather than their ability to entertain, he added.
“Their supposed fans may now be entertained by the shock value of the content of the dispute, but ultimately they’ll tire of the behaviour and be turned away,” explained Ikalafeng.