SR3 sees K.O reunite with Lunatik, the producer behind Skhanda Republic, the South African hip-hop veteran’s 2014 debut. “It’s just that raw, unapologetic energy that we wanted to put across,” K.O tells Apple Music. “It only made sense for me to call this album ‘Republic Three’ because on the last two albums that I’ve put out, Lunatik wasn’t involved. So, it’s just everything coming full circle, and he is back. We back together as Batman and Robin and created this beautiful masterpiece that I think is actually also just like the first album—it will actually stand the test of time.” The music maintains the same street grit: there’s an underlying kwaito bounce on songs like “MOSHITO’” and amapiano carries “FEZEKA”, featuring Pabi Cooper and Zuma alongside Ghanaian rapper Sarkodie. It’s the essence of skhanda—rap rooted in South African street culture but still uncompromisingly hip-hop. Here, he takes us through his album, track by track. “EMPIRE - INTRO” “This is the grand opening of this masterpiece. This is me just declaring my position in the game, my position on the throne, snatching my own bouquet of flowers, and just reaffirming myself that when it’s all said and done, I know who I am, I know what I have to offer, but I also touch on certain things, just looking back at my own personal journey and where I still want to go and all those kind of things. It also speaks to everything coming full circle. I’ve connected with certain people in the past. They’re no longer in my life and now I have a whole wave of other people that are with me. I know I’m still going to encounter some more people in the future. I just want to make sure that I impact everyone that I come across in the positive light.” “MOSHITO” “‘MOSHITO’ is a ball of energy. It’s ignorance at its best. It’s lyricism at its best and probably the most upper-echelon version of South African hip-hop. When you are talking about South African hip-hop and see who is so in tune with everything and his environment and takes that and packages it and presents it to the world unapologetically and just making sure that he sounds as distinct as possible from anything else out there in the world.” “SETE” (feat. Young Stunna & Blxckie) “I came across that beat when I had a session with Ruger. He wasn’t too into it, but of course, he had another one that he played for me, and then we ended up making another song for the album, but there was just something that connected with me to the instrumental. I was thinking, ‘Let me get someone to do a hook,’ and I reached out to Stunna, who sent me a hook and a verse. I mean, he owes me nothing, and he is just a young man who’s on—extremely on fire right now. Then, someone whispered in my ear, ‘Maybe we can actually even go crazy. What if we add someone else on and make it a three-headed monster?’ When I reached out to Blxckie, he was game; 30 minutes, he was done with his verse. I was a happy man.” “MS3” “The ‘Mission Statement’ series [of tracks] is a cult favourite; I had ‘Mission Statement’ on Skhanda Republic and ‘MS2’ on SR2, and then now this. So, this is the pillar of the album in terms of just the lyricism, attitude, energy and just me staking my claim in the game and who I am.” “FEZEKA” (feat. Zuma, Sarkodie & Pabi Cooper) “I wanted people to see this lineup and think, ‘Wait, so it’s like an amapiano song. He’s now rapping over an amapiano beat—now he’s making amapiano music.’ Then, when you hear that thing, it just sounds like one melting pot of all different worlds. Those individuals, when they got on that beat, they literally had to be uncomfortable because I’m putting them out of their comfort zones. And now they have to accommodate this vibe, and I just love the fact that everyone was able to take just guidance and direction and follow the lead properly. This beat was produced by Brian Soko, who produced ‘Mission Statement’.” “THE CALLING” “It’s a mood record. I just wanted to paint a scenario where it almost feels like it’s one of those songs where it’s a Saturday, you go to the car wash, then you and your significant other hitting the streets and doing whatever that you want to get up to on a good old Saturday. That type of song.” “OWAMI” (feat. Msaki) “I don’t want to be cliché, but this is the ‘Skhanda Love’ of SR3. This is the one love song where I felt like I could feature a female artist who’s got her own thing going on, and then we could make a dope duet. Someone from a whole different other space but blended really nicely on a hip-hop track. Msaki is obviously known for everything else that she does outside hip-hop. But when she came on this record, she just glided, and she just took it to the next level. A pleasant, pleasant soul to work with.” “SKHANDAVILLE (FREESTYLE)” “I also have freestyles on the ‘Skhanda Republic’ series. So, this is the freestyle for this particular project. Half of it was done by myself and Lunatik, and then the other half was done by an American producer by the name of Brandon Harris. I don’t think there’s any genius to the meaning behind it. It was just getting my shit off, getting my vibes off, getting my raps off and just going into my ignorant bag and showcasing my lyrical skill set.” “DEMON” (feat. Ruger) “I mentioned that, initially, Ruger was meant to be on ‘SETE’, but he had another record that he played for me, and it ended up being this particular song. This was the second version of that particular song. We started reworking this song shortly after ‘SETE’ came out, and I’m like, ‘Dang, the response to this is crazy. Maybe the first version that Ruger had given me, as great as it is, maybe I just need to make this one slightly more commercial and maybe more clubby.’ So, I sat down with the Space Club—my music homies—and we recreated the beat, and we just made it slightly more palatable.” “HATE LUV” (feat. Vuyina) “This is a song that talks about a toxic relationship and gender-based violence [GBV]. I actually made this song sometime earlier last year [2021], and then, early this year, when I heard Kendrick putting out a GBV-related song, I was like, ‘Oh.’ I almost wanted to can this one, but I went back to it because mine wasn’t meant to be as vile as how Kendrick’s was. So, I wanted to make something that is more just palatable—something that can still play on radio. The song features a singer called Vuyina, who is a new artist with great vocals.” “PIANO” “If you know the K.O signature sound, you’ll probably compare this to one of those records. It was just me, just in the studio, just having fun. We had that beat and it was just something that just came naturally to me. It’s very party-oriented, very club-oriented.” “THE LIGHT” “I think this is just something that speaks to what is going on right now—the new-age hip-hop. Very melodic and very trappy at the same time. But I also wanted to make it as hip-hop as possible when you hear the traditional guitar and the intro.” “B.O.A.T” “That beat was made by an American guy called Nomad, and when he sent it to me sometime last year, I went straight to the studio and started messing around. That’s just a club track—nothing too deep, nothing too intricate about it. It’s very on the trap side of things, and it’s got a lot of energy.“ “STAPURA” (feat. Sjava) “I just felt like I needed to connect with my guy one more time because we made an amazing record on my previous album called ‘Flight School’. We wanted to create something that will allow him to slightly also be uncomfortable. He is crazy with the melodies, but when you listen to him on this record, it’s almost like you’re hearing a rapper version of him. I love the fact that he was comfortable enough to also just come out that way.”

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