Music | Review: Akala – Knowledge is Power [Volume 1]
Music & Dance, New in Ceasefire - Posted on Monday, June 18, 2012 0:00 - 2 Comments
Knowledge is Power is Akala’s fourth mixtape
With Mic Righteous and English Frank releasing mixtapes earlier this year, and Lowkey’s recent announcement that he is taking a break from music, Akala’s new ‘Knowledge is Power’ is the mixtape fans of ‘conscious’ UK Hip Hop have been waiting for. Having said that, from his freestyles Akala has already warned us off: ‘Don’t try brush man off as just conscious/come out of my face with that nonsense/tug revolution, that’s what it is.’
The mixtape kicks off with an incredible seven minutes -as featured on Charlie Sloth’s Fire in the booth- that show Akala at his best, providing the listener with exactly what the title of the mixtape promises – a sharing of knowledge.
Anyone who has listened to Akala’s music or, in particular, has seen his F64 on SBTV will know that he has an immense talent for relaying some astonishing historical and political content, all delivered within sophisticated rhyme schemes.
There are ten tracks on the mixtape, which features Come from English Frank on ‘Educated Tug Shit’, and Durrty Goodz on ‘Are You an MC?’.
Absolute Power is a highlight of the mixtape, with Akala taking a more mellow tone over a stringed sample. Another change in flow comes on ‘I’m so cool’, where Akala reminds us that he can still portray the arrogant MC while maintaining the high calibre of lyrical content we hear on the other tracks.
The choruses. however, on ‘I’m So Cool, and ‘Are You an MC?’ could be deemed the only flaw on the Mixtape, with both missing the melodic rhythms of flows in the verses. All of the beats are impressive, with strings and brass sounds providing the samples. ‘Who else can make intelligence seem sexy?’ is a line that initially made me chuckle but then made me think about the point; mainstream hip-hop tends to glamourise aspects of stupidity – Akala does the opposite.
The mixtape ends with an upbeat celebration of the history of Hip Hop – Akala talks about its African roots, and again astounds the listener with facts about the cultural and historical context from which the music developed. Knowledge is Power Volume 1, is simply an example of Akala doing what he does best, entertaining whilst educating on what’s important; history, politics and revolution.
When not making music Akala spends some of his time running the Hip Hop Shakespeare Company, a music theatre production outfit he founded. The HSC deliver education programmes and live performances in schools and theatres around the country, aiming to engage young people and help them develop skills in performing arts.
Last year at a Ted X event Akala showcased some of the work that the Hip Hop Shakespeare company does, beginning with ‘Guess the Lyric – Hip Hop or Shakepeare’. He then went on to quote a Shakespeare sonnet over the beat of Comedy Tragedy History, showing how well the two genres of poetry fit together.
Such instances showcase how it is Akala’s love of language, not just his knowledge, that make both his music and message all the more poignant and powerful. In such a context, it seems evident that Knowledge is Power: Volume 1 is destined to be an era-defining contribution to an always-morphing, always-necessary artistic form.
Leave a Reply
- Comment | To Leave or Not to Leave the EU: A British Muslim Perspective
- Analysis | Billionaire Republicans and Professional Islamophobes: The Pro-Israel lobby in Brussels
- Analysis | Their Violence, Our Values: A History of European Responses to Political Dissent
- Comment | Education as Resistance: Western Sahara’s Rising Generation
- Comment | Environment of Hate: The New Normal for Muslims in the UK
More In Politics
- Politics | “We are the lions, Mr. Manager”: Revisiting the Great Grunwick Strike
- Comment | The Government’s Extremism Bill will do little to prevent extremism and much to undermine democracy and civil liberties
- Comment | This victory shows we can, and must, shut down the DSEI arms fair for good
- Politics | “She did not die; she multiplied”: Honouring Berta Cáceres
- Comment | The Brussels Attacks: Our pain and rage are immense, but we need reason and understanding more than ever
More In Features
- Special Report | Miracles and Mirages: Greed and corruption have created a doping epidemic in Sport
- Special Report | From Women Refugees to International Students: The State’s War on Migrants
- Special Report | Bazaar Politics: Uncovering Social Cleansing In the Heart of London
- Politics | Interview | Director Kirby Dick: “Sexual assault on college campuses is an epidemic”
- Special Report | The Lawyer, the Mohammed Cartoon Exhibition and the ‘Civil War’ that Wasn’t
More In Profiles
More In Arts & Culture
- Film | Review | The Journey from Syria: “I wish we could have this life in our country”
- Film | Review | Batman v Superman: Dawn of Nihilism and Mansplaining
- Books | Review | ‘Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War’
- Film | Review | The Big Short: Laughter in the Dark
- Books | Review | Settled Wanderers: The Poetry of a Landless People