Interview: Laylizzy On Collaborating With AKA

It took a village of writers, producers, rappers, singers and other creators to craft ‘Mass Country’. For that reason, every song has a unique story. For ‘Amapiano’, AKA roped in J’Something as a co-writer, and the MiCasa frontman wrote the Portuguese lines on the song which are sung by AKA. 

Mega created ‘Amapiano’ for the Lusophone countries Mozambique and Angola, a region of Southern Africa which AKA told Apple Music he had affinity to. “I wanted to connect with that type of vibe,” AKA told the streaming platform. “It samples Sergio Mendes—‘Oooo, aria raio’ [the primary refrain from Mendes’ 1966 hit ‘Mais Que Nada’],” he said. 

‘Amapiano’ also features Mozambican rapper Laylizzy who AKA initially collaborated with six years ago on the Mozambican rapper’s 2016 hit single ‘Hello’. 

We caught up with Laylizzy to ask him about his relationship with AKA, the two times they collaborated, Amapiano and other topics. He had some interesting stories and insights to share. 

Note: This interview has been slightly edited for clarity and length. 

There’s a video of you playing your music to AKA back in 2016. Tell us about the first time you met him. 

It happened right after AKA recorded the ‘Hello’ verse. I had seen AKA before, I had met Benza, but we had never been introduced. 

How did that collaboration come about?

It was divine timing. Me, Ellputo and Geobek were working with Burna Boy for a whole week. And, one day, me and Ellputo were like we gotta go back to Mozambique to handle some business. We packed our bags and went to the hotel. And Geobek was like, ‘Yo, can you guys postpone the trip? I feel like something is about to happen today, I don’t know what but you guys can’t leave today.’ And we were like, cool, we trust Geobek, we gonna stay. So, we stayed and worked with Burna again all day. I had ‘Hello’ and I wanted Burna to get on it all day. But, I was just mapping the situation to see when I could play him the song. I played him the song at around midnight. He’d been recording the whole day so, at that point he had lost inspiration. So, he was like, ‘I wanna get on the song but I hear my boy Kiernan on it.’ He didn’t even know I was a huge AKA fan. The music plays, and we are outside and Geobek is like, ‘Go ask Burna Boy if he can call Kiernan up, maybe he will pull up.’ I go ask Burna, he calls AKA, one hour later, he’s there. He heard the song, and immediately started mumbling something. He went outside, came back, mumbling, mumbling and then he’s like, ‘Pull out the track I’m gonna record.’ I’m like, what, this is really happening. And, after recording the song, he’s like, ‘Let me hear your other stuff,’ and that’s when we started building. 

Six years later, you are on AKA’s new album, ‘Mass Country’, on the song ‘Amapiano’. How did that one come about? 

Again, divine timing. This year in Jan, I was with my homies, and I had just told one of my guys I wanna fly out to SA, I wanna have dinner with AKA, just check on him, talk to him, ask him a few questions about the future since Covid is over… type of thing. Cause I hadn’t spoken to him since 2021. So, I had just mentioned that to my homie and, two days later, Musa Keys calls a promoter from Mozambique called Picasso. He calls me and says Musa Keys wants to do a song with you, he’s asking for your number. However, Musa Keys sends my number to Thato who works for AKA. He texts me and says AKA is in the studio, he needs to speak to you. I’m like, shit, what’s going on, I just spoke about AKA the other day? So he calls me, I’m in my house, chilling. He’s at the studio, playing the song, excited. Immediately, he just goes straight to business like, ‘Yo I got this song, it’s perfect for us, it’s perfect for Mozambique, I gotta have you on there, you my guy there, you my Portugueses-speaking guy.’ And I was like, ‘I got you, anything for Kiernan.’ I recorded the verse, they loved it. When God is involved, everything is simple.  

How has the song and album been received in Mozambique? 

It’s been received the best way it could be in Mozambique. People are loving it, they are loving our new collaboration. The album was number 1, first day, second day, third day… in Mozambique. People are loving ‘Mass Country’. Everybody was receiving the album and the song with ultimate pride. 

How big is Amapiano, the genre in Mozambique? And how are local artists incorporating it into their music? 

Amapiano is big in Mozambique. Amapiano took over the world. I feel like Mozambique is always the first country to get the South African sound – gqom, deep house etc. And we love the South African sound, so, immediately our DJs are on it, our promoters are calling the DJs over to Mozambique to play. Amapiano was well-received, the young people are really into it. We don’t have that many artists doing it. But we got guys like DJ Tarico. One of the biggest Amapiano songs of 2021 was ‘Yaba Buluku’ with Burna Boy on the remix. That song was a staple and it was produced by a Mozambican. We also got this other artist Ban De Rosso doing it and people received it well. The way we do it, is we just implement our Portuguese to the sound so our people can relate to it. 

How was your relationship with AKA outside of music? 

Initially, we didn’t really have a relationship outside of music, he didn’t really know me, I was a new artist, I was starting to come into the South African scene, I was starting to blow up. But, all of a sudden, I think that was after we had recorded ‘Hello’, but we hadn’t shot the video yet, he called me to perform at one of his Supa Mega Shows, I think it was the first Supa Mega Show. And we go there, and that’s when we start clicking and having conversations and laughing and understanding that we mess with each other. From that point onwards, he was as present as he could be outside the music; whenever I met him, I could ask him some questions. Every time he went to Mozambique, he made sure he would holler at us. It was a simple “I see with this guy, I respect this guy, I want the best for this guy” type of relationship. As the years went by, he went to Mozambique and I went to South Africa, we met so many times. It was music-based but I could feel there was a personal love we had for each other. 


How was the process of making ‘Amapiano’ different from making ‘Hello’? 

I wouldn’t say it was that different in terms of how I create music. I just listen to the beat and what comes to my mind, I lay it down, I record it. And then we just adjust it. I got my squad that I take into the studio with me often, like Mark Exodus. You hear some backing singing vocals on ‘Amapiano’, that’s Mark Exodus. He’s a recording engineer as well. So, I took him to the studio, we did it the same way I did ‘Hello’. 

What can fans expect from you this year? 

The fans can expect my album this year. The fans can expect what I’m calling Laylizzy reborn because I’m entering a new phase of my career. I feel like I’m going harder, I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. I’ve been working a lot in the Lusophone space and I’m thinking about going back into the Anglophone space as well. So, fans can expect some more English and Portuguese vibes from me, some amazing music videos. I feel like I’m too creative right now, too excited about 2023. 

Stream ‘Mass Country’ below:

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