It’s not easy to look at something the same way you did before you knew who made it, particularly when the person who made it is Mlazi Milano-rapper and convicted sex offender Simiso Zwane, AKA Okmalumkoolkat.
This is where we at #Trending found ourselves after discussing AKA’s new album art for his hit single Caiphus Song – designed and drawn exclusively by Okmalumkoolkat.
Some of us wanted to boycott the rapper, others to cover his work but note that he may have apologised to his fans, but not to the woman who brought the indecent assault charges in Tasmania last year. We decided to cover it – and keep the conversation going about fellow rappers publicly redeeming the Koolkat.
As fans of the “post-digital design” internet movement of the early 2010s – also described as the “new aesthetic” – it’s totally the sort of thing that gets us going.
Pixelated graphics, Windows 98 paint boards, open browser windows treated as picture frames and glorious low-res, cut-and-paste collage images create the heady aesthetic clash we can now nostalgically look back on as a crazy, but beautiful, time in graphic design. It’s done to death but still curiously fresh for a mainstream release – dare we say too fresh for the AKA brand – so what was Zwane’s thinking behind the project?
“Its aesthetics are nostalgic, but it’s always been design that’s looking to the future,” he tells us from Joburg this week. “So, it’s a thing that’s reminding you of 90s computer life and video game design, even though the worlds created in those platforms were meant to be futuristic. I love design that captures feeling instead of just being pretty.”
It’s the first time that Zwane has designed artwork for a fellow South African artist, he explains, and it came about when the two of them started working together on Mega Milano, their collaborative single that appears on Zwane’s latest album.
“[After Mega Milano] he called me up and asked me to design a cover artwork for his next single. I work on feeling, so I told him to send me the track first before I could agree. Luckily, I had heard the song on one of our sessions before my album came out, so I wanted to do it because I love how he sampled and remixed Caiphus Semenya there. I wanted to capture that wedding and real-love bliss feeling using Vaporwave aesthetics.
“It’s always God’s work when it comes together that tight, and also that the client trusts the direction, you know.”
We also got in touch with AKA this week to find out if the allegations against Zwane complicated their working relationship.
He got a little upset with #Trending, saying that we “tricked” him into a comment, but maintained that: “When it comes to Malumkoolkat, it comes to someone I admire. All the complications other people have with him, the media, that means nothing to me. I work with the man, and that’s it. That’s all I’m prepared to say.” Okay then.