|Listen to the single 'Yeah'|
dark jeans and an ‘Illa State Records’ T-shirt to advertise his independent
label, Akala’s propensity
for self promotion is evident from the moment he walks into the dressing
room. “Are we playing?” he asks, picking up the Playstation 2 controller.
He challenges me to a game of ‘Pro Evolution Soccer 5’, trash talking
his opponent with the arrogant wit of a young Muhammed
Having strayed from the shadow of his older sister Miss Dynamite, Akala is intent on proving his credibility without affiliation.
No jewellery or visible tattoos, Akala is every bit the non-conformist, far removed from the commercial vices of mainstream hip hop. He condemns the superficial state of the industry and refuses to be bound by clichés.
Emblazoned on his black tee is the Union Jack with the traditional red white and blue converted to black, yellow and green creating a hybrid Brit-Jamaican flag; representing both his dual-heritage and his tendency to re-define the status quo.
He’s arrived late for his PA but still finds the time to squeeze in a quick game. “Akala, Radio 1 would like an interview with you.” The event co-ordinator tries, unsuccessfully, to make herself heard over the game’s commentary. After repeating herself, once, twice or maybe five times, he responds nonchalantly, “I’ve gotta finish this.”
I’ve been warned that he can be a bit difficult. But Akala is by no means a masculine diva. If he starts something, he refuses to leave it incomplete, and for that very reason, he was an accomplished entrepreneur before he turned 20.
One of few rappers to perform with a smile on their face, Akala has every reason to be content. The Situation caught up with him at the Pre-MOBO Launch in central London.
tell me about the album, it’s been out for a while…
me about the content itself; what can people who have yet to buy the album
you’re nominated for a Music Of Black Origin award in the category of
‘Best Hip Hop Act’ alongside Kanye West,
Busta Rhymes, Kano
and Sway. If you were making the decision,
honestly, who would you give it to?
MOBO last year in the same category was a controversial one. Do you think
he deserved to be awarded ‘Best Hip Hop Act’ in 2005?
I’ve listened to your song ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’, which is a pretty harsh damnation
of your U.S counterparts. How would you define them in comparison with
do you think the British Hip Hop scene is making significant progress
now? To be fair, there has been some stagnation and a lack of credible
was your independent label Illa State Records conceived?
are you reaping the benefits yet or is that still to come?
understand the name ‘Akala’ means ‘immovable’ - how would you justify
that as a fitting description of yourself?
Akala’s ability to articulate his every thought and sentiment is reflected in the intricacy of his lyrics. Evidently well educated, the straight-A student has achieved in 22 years what many talented rappers will fail to do in a lifetime. He’s his own boss, producing his own videos, negotiating his own arrangements and making his own decisions. His talent can be summed up by the fact that he will be sharing a stage with (arguably) the greatest rapper of our generation; supporting Jay-Z on tour.
Unimpressed by Hip Hop’s current condition, Akala is the constructive critic the industry has been waiting for.