Based: Botswana

He is often labelled as a rebel, some are convinced he is satanic but one thing for sure is ATI is on top of his game. Born Atlasaone Molemogi, the 26-year-old may be one of the youngest and most promising talents in Botswana but he’s definitely hailed as a breather in the hip hop music scene.

He says he greatly owes his recognition to his many fans who have supported his craft from the day he began busting out rhymes.

“Music saved me, I was a loner and music seemed to fill up the emptiness in my life,” he said.

ATI says he was exposed to music at a young age and it was the only thing that kept him going whenever he was in a bad mood. He made a decision then that he would also give people something that could make them forget about their problems, even if it was for just a day. “I started writing songs,” he says.

But, it was not plain sailing: ATI knocked on many doors for a record deal, but each time the door was slammed in his face. He realised it was up to him to make his dream a reality. They say if opportunity does not knock, you build a door and this is exactly what ATI did.

“I was turned down by many labels because they were not willing to invest in someone they hardly knew, but this did not deter me as I started saving money so I could record my first mix tape.”

The mix tape, which was titled Batho Bame was his first introduction to Batswana as a recording artist and it became an instant hit. This is the mix tape that ATI says helped grow his fan base.

The follow-up, Incredible, also lived up to its name as its songs topped the charts.

As an artist, it is important to leave a lasting impression on a fan especially during a performance and ATI has mastered this technique. The secret, he says, lies in his ability to connect with his fans.

What makes him a cut above the rest is his stage performance, especially his energy. ATI says he gives every show a theme so that he, his dancers and backing vocalists can dress accordingly. “I take my craft and my fans seriously, so I always make sure I give them their money’s worth. Before an appearance, I plan the whole thing from outfits, choreography and make-up, to interactions with the audience,” he said.

ATI is also known for his trademark symbol, a black tear drop associated with satanism. However, he dismisses those speculations as being crazy and funny. “I am one of the few daring male artists who are not afraid to wear make-up especially when the theme of the show calls for it, and my symbol is just my way of being unique.

“I was raised into a Christian family and I love God. I also love creativity and everything I do is purely that… so if my creativity is getting me known then so be it, but people should not confuse my artistry with satanism,” he said.

Asked how he characterises his music, he said: “I am a hip hop artist who is not afraid to mix it up with other genres. When I record, I listen to my muse and go where it takes me. In the end, it is not about me but what the fans want to hear.”

Africa got to meet ATI when he performed on the Big Brother eviction stage in 2013. After his mind-blowing performance, he started to get bookings from all |over the world.

“I am a star and stars are meant to shine… and people love seeing the star in me shining,” he said.

The young crooner assured us that Africa has yet to witness another incredible performance from him soon