*MOBO Award winner, Akala (Kingslee Daley), has long stepped out of his sister Ms Dynamite’s shadow. In his own right he is renown as a shining star on the underground. In the urban elite –– he stands out for his wordplay and the content of his music.
He takes his craft seriously as he delivers his ‘edutainment’, tackling issues such as war, race, sex, violence, self-deception, social conditioning and materialism. He is a pioneering force in UK hip-hop.
On his third studio album he plays with genres ranging from dubstep punk to electro and creates his own “alternative rap rock” sound. Such is his diversity of influences he cites: Radiohead, Aphex Twin, Depeche Mode, Prodigy, Rage Against The Machine, Public Enemy, the Wu-Tang Clan and The Fugees.
What most appeals to me about Akala is his conscience –– each track is a prick to it. As he sings of the “faceless ––the nameless” he appears to be the voice of his generation a voice which needs to be heard.
Akala’s is a charming North London voice belonging to a young man who is as business savvy as he is talented. Innovative label-owner and social-entrepreneur, Akala likes to be different. His political outlook is the prism through which his music filters.
Most interesting about this album is that it was inspired – in part –by dystopian novels such as George Orwell’s novel 1984, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We. It’s intriguing that it is released at the same time as Erykah Badu’s New Amerykah the return of the Ankh – which was also inspired by 1984 and the concept of ‘Group Think.’
But Akala, 26, is following no trend. He teaches Shakespeare through rap, via his hip-hop Shakespeare company, and has been working with London 2012 on key cultural events and campaigns. Akala admirably seeks to revive hip-hop as a socio-political force.
Tracks such as the lead single XXL go old school in entertaining us while my favourite track Yours and My Children, highlights the issues Akala (the Buddhist term for immovable) witnessed in Brazil where police are killing Favela children. It provokes debate and reveals Akala as an artist less concerned with awards and fame.
It’s hard to pick one track if you’re talking about insightful lyrical content, No Enemy chants “Keep the charts all I want is your hearts.” But these are more than soapbox songs. Peace, a collaboration with the classical pianist Paul Gladstone Reid, MBE, keeps the listener on their toes amid the electro rap.
Akala’s live shows are said to be electric thanks in part to his partnership with renowned drummer Cassell “The Beatmaker”, they have jointly developed a reputation for stellar performances alongside the likes of Jay-Z. They were also the first ever hip-hop act to perform live in Vietnam. The reception to this album can only be single think if you like your music to be food for thought.
Doublethink – out 3 May on Illa State Records
For more information visit:
Akala- Yours And My Children snippet (video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VOsrasiy9o&feature=player_embedded
Akala XXL Single (19 April digital release): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVp2ZHfUjSE
The UK Corner covers urban entertainment from a British perspective and is written by Fiona McKinson. She is a freelance journalist and creative writer based in London. Contact her at [email protected].