PREVIEW: Akala @ 02 Academy Birmingham, Nov 26th

Akala, aka Kingslee Daley, released his first single in 2003 – ‘Welcome to England’, a track that would again feature on the artists’ debut ‘War’ mixtape in 2004.

Akala’s latest mixtape, ‘Knowledge is Power – Vol 1’, was released in May this year, seeing the London born rapper, poet and Edutainment emcee tour the UK; performing at the 02 Academy in Birmingham on Nov 26th.

Arguably a bastion of intelligence and education, in a music industry that often resorts to MTV glamour and X Factor aspirations, Akala uses his art to explore race, class, sexism, history, war, hip-hop culture and what it is to live in a world one knows to be inherently unequal.’

His current three studio albums, four mixtape and fourteen single releases, have all ‘reflected Akala’s personal struggles’ – using a considered blend of words, pentametre and ‘harsh truths’ to deliver his message through ‘barbed comedic satire’.

Citing Gill Scott Heron, Saul Williams, KRS One and Wu Tan Clan as inspirations, Akala’s commentary on social conditioning – and challenges to the political mandates of ignorance, distraction and a divide and conquer governance, are a prominent thread to his work.

And whilst his many literary influences, including continued references to Stratford’s Bard, have earned him the moniker ‘the rap Shakespearean’, Akala also claims his lyrics reflect inwards; poking fun at his own ‘furrowed brow reputation’ and understanding that sometimes heavy topics need to be got across lightly’.

An energetic on stage performer (Birmingham Review last saw Akala at The Flyover Show 4 in 2011), Akala was awarded the ‘Best Hip Hop Act’ at the 2006 MOBO Awards.

His debut studio album, ‘It’s Not A Rumour’ – released on Akala’s own Illa State Records, gained significant attention; becoming a counterpoint to the mysognanism and money centric attitudes of many more widely promulgated Hip Hop.

On this reception, Akala’s website states his refusal and inability to conform to prevailing stereotypes means that his records are largely ignored by the sections of the media that proclaim to speak authentically of the “urban experience”’.

Akala also founded The Hip Hop Shakespeare Company in 2008, a production company that offers young people a different view of the arts and ultimately themselves; through education programmes, live music events and music theatre’.

Akala performs at the 02 Academy in Birmingham on Monday Nov 26th. For information and tickets on this, and further gigs at the 02 Academy in Birmingham, visit http://www.o2academybirmingham.co.uk/event/46168/akala-tickets

For more on Akala, including his latest mixtape release ‘Knowledge is Power – Vol 1’, visit http://www.akalamusic.com

For more on The Hip Hop Shakespeare Company, visit http://www.hiphopshakespeare.com

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