It’s been ten years since Akala broke through with his acclaimed album ‘It’s Not A Rumour’, and five albums later he’s back in Brighton on a celebratory lap, supporting a carefully crafted ‘Ten Years Of Akala’ triple vinyl compilation. Suffice to say, the rapper bought a full repertoire to the sold out venue.
Every time SOURCE has caught Akala live he has impressed. He is one of the most intelligent and quick witted rappers around, his Pompous Peterson stage act showcasing his dark humour while tackling problems of a global and historical scale.
While it sometimes seems you are being humbled into a history lesson, there is one undeniable fact; Akala makes banging music. The string-led ‘Roll Wid Us’ offers the closest to mainstream hip-hop from his set, while ‘That Boy Akala’ gets the whole crowd jumping in time with the man himself. The view from the photographer’s pit reveals a sea of arms thrusting and dropping in perfect synch (see this clip of the crowd making some serious noise from Akala’s own instagram).
Half way through the set he breaks things down for a spoken word version of ‘Peace’, a virtuoso lesson in the bloodshed and revolutions that have claimed many lives over the years for the freedom of others.
Akala has never shied away from questioning the ‘Great’ in Great Britain, and tunes such as ‘Comedy, Tragedy, History’ addresses our empire’s bloody past with unbelievable lyrical dexterity. Perhaps his commitment to these topics explains the limited mainstream coverage he seems to have had over the last decade.
If you’re new to Akala, then we’d suggest starting out where his set culminated; with a mash up of his legendary ‘Fire in the Booth‘ sessions. Finishing with his breakthrough tune ‘Shakespeare‘, Akala proudly states “I’m similar to William but a little different / I do it for kids that’s illiterate, not Elizabeth”.
And long may he continue.
Concorde 2, Friday 29th October 2016
Words and photos by Ashley Luke Laurence