When I bumped into Akala randomly in a Camden restaurant I decided to find out more about the guy.
Akala is a buddhist word (pronounced ak- car - la ) meaning immovable and with
the confidence that Akala has, it's a fitting title. He has good reason to be
confident: - he's always had confirmation of his mental abilities. Indeed, he
was chosen to attend the Royal Institution of Mathematics Masterclasses when
he was younger. Why not choose to the academic route?
Many reasons, its just not in my personality to be in one place. I didnt have a lack of encouragement from teachers, it was active discouragement! People in power often like to abuse that power. Maybe some teachers found my presence and intelligence discomforting. Nonetheless when he was 18 he went to Cyprus, in Ayia Nappa when the garage scene was exploding and saw a hole in the market. Akala set up a caribean restaurant on the island and got his paper. Thats the sort of power move that confrms someones intelligence.
When he was around 6 years old Akala started writing. However, hes been
taking it seriously as a career for two years. When asked where he honed his
skills his answer is different to the usual replies of in the streets,
wit my man dem or pirate radio.
In the studio, as soon as I met Rez. That was the first constructive feedback, he gave me a few pointers on breathing and punctuation etc.
Rez is Akalas producer / manager. But who is Rez to give Akala advice on spitting? Ill let Rez tell you, I moved to NY about 8 or 9 years ago. The time I left London ecstacy culture was at its height in this country and I got frustrated with the scene. I started working at Battery Studios which was owned by Jive. The studio just happened to be used by a whole host of superstar artists and Rez earned his stripes whilst assisting on many of the tracks that were produced there including Alicia Keyes before she got dropped by Sony. He even learned a lot from the Neptunes and got very tight with the Lyricist Lounge crew and Rawkus.
Akala cites his influences as Wu, Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Supa Cat, Biggie, Pac, Pun, and Jay Z. Bizarrely though, Akala hasnt written a lyric down for over two years. He explains, the words on the paper restrict you. They are too rigid. When you write in your head you flow better because you let the beat dictate it. It also makes you spit better because you have to repeat it to remember it. I concede that the lyrics I compose in my head then write down later when Ive been reunited with my lyric book tend to flow beter than the ones that go traight into my lyric book. A theory worth pondering.
So, whats next for Akala? Assisted by Rez, they're basically putting out the album by themselves. After getting heavy rotation on Channel U without much radio play and after boring through the UK Hip-Hop scene without a crew forcing them in, there's no doubt that they can do it themselves. Its coming out on their own IllaState Records in 2005 and the first single will be 'Roll With Us'. But Akala already has a mixtape now in Dark n Cold, barbershops and all the usual Hip-Hop outlets.
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