He’s one of the rare artists you feel like you can relate to, one you could talk to about the state of the world.
Two support hip hop acts to precede the main act? Check. Rapper preaching the pros of organic food and saving the earth from the system? Check. Over-run from the first slot – wait, that wasn’t on the program. Akala’s gig at The Lantern in Colston Hall’s first hiccup was MC Index’s gain. Initially performing with DJ Fingerfood, the beat was cut, and while MC Index suggesting another song was a hit with the crowd you could tell that wasn’t exactly pleasing people backstage. So MC Index freestyled anyway, while telling the crew preparing for the next act to quiet down while he was rapping. Following act Mic Righteous seemed less than happy with this as it not only reduced time on his support slot, but he deemed it “unprofessional” of his peer. Throwing shade? Checkmate.
But MC Index’s slip up time wise was far from the centrepiece of the gig which is quite frankly a relief. Akala bounded onstage with all the energy of a coiled spring set loose. And how high he rose, we were treated to a whole variety show. Just one of the gems of ‘Knowledge is Power Part 2’ is ‘Bang With Us’ brimming with anger and fire which Akala fully embodies and gets the crowd into. Yet ‘Mr Fire in the Booth’ is the thing which he really gets the audience to partake in, singing one part and holding the microphone out for the rest of the chorus. Not to say he didn’t do this a lot of the time, you can tell Akala wants everyone to be a part of proceedings rather than just rapping his views on a stage, especially from his catchphrase of the night: “What’s gwarning Bristol?”. However he wasn’t just performing his songs, at one point he unleashed part of his graphic novel ‘The Ruins of Empires’ which he rap-read acapella. Another point he brought in a special guest – Akala’s very own twin persona who goes by the title of Uncle Pompous, who labels members of the audience ‘chavs’ and ‘immigrants’. But it is very clear this is Akala’s very own upper-class representation of what’s wrong with this world.
What strikes me about Akala is how his politics flow into his music, in songs like ‘Murder Runs The Globe’ he effectively communicates his strong beliefs he holds strong with the lyrics video showing photos of war, soldiers, and weapons. He is outspoken about many things, his exclusion from the mainstream is one of them. But it is ultimately the radios loss, Akala’s onstage presence is as captivating as ‘Knowledge is Power Part 2’. He’s one of the rare artists you feel like you can relate to, one you could talk to about the state of the world. You don’t get too many rap songs such as the infectiously fast paced ‘Sun Tzu’ and ‘The Journey’ with Mic Righteous that speak volumes opposed to the usual expletive loaded rhymes that are fired through the airwaves and raved about by radio stations and critics alike. He doesn’t take himself too seriously it’s clear, but his passion for the music and the delivery of it is something which matters to him a lot. Three words to describe the gig? To quote our Uncle Akala, funky as hell.
Check out ‘Fire In The Booth’ right here: