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AKA to create namesake spirit brand

Rapper AKA has revealed plans to create his own spirit brand, with his name being removed from bottles of Cruz Watermelon vodka.

Rapper AKA
Rapper AKA teamed up with Cruz vodka in 2016

Kiernan Forbes, who is known professionally as AKA, took to Instagram to reveal his plan to “evolve his business” and create his own spirit “in the near future”.

The rapper lent his name to South African brand Cruz Vodka as part of a ‘multi-million-rand’ partnership that began in October 2016.

The partnership saw the musician feature on all of the brand’s billboards across the country, as well as in its TV adverts.

In a statement on Instagram, the Cape Town-born rapper said he had decided to launch his own spirit with Cruz Vodka’s management team following “lengthy discussions”.

The joint statement with Cruz Vodka said: “He outlined a change in his business model from AKA partner to AKA-owned brands. We appreciate his vision and agree that it’s the logical next step for him.”

The rapper will “remain an integral part of the Cruz family and a valued business partner”, the statement continued.

Following the rapper’s request, the Distell-owned brand will phase his name off the Cruz Watermelon bottle, while the limited edition Cruz Banana Deluxe expression will be removed from the market this summer.

The AKA brand name will be used for AKA-owned products, which will begin gradually from May to October 2022, the statement said.

In November 2021, Heineken agreed to buy a 65% stake in South African drinks group Distell for €2.2 billion (US$2.5bn), excluding the Scotch whisky business.

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