Akala is not your typical rapper. As I write that cliché I question whether the statement singles him out or encompasses him in a group of rappers that have had the same sentence bestowed upon them; Akala is not your typical rapper and he’s not even your typical rapper that isn’t your typical rapper. To quote a football manager “he’s not one from the bottle, he’s a special one.” ‘Doublethink’ is his 3rd solo album which builds on the efforts of his previous 2 offerings ‘It’s Not a Rumour’ and ‘Freedom Lasso’. The 27 year old from North London is part rapper, part genius, part wordsmith. As well as being talented footballer, one of the UK’s best mathematicians in his age group he also took a great liking to Shakespeare and a correlation with him and the Bard (which he touches on in his previous 2 albums) is evident even beyond the clever word play.
The album begins with a calm Piano intro courtesy of classical pianist Paul Gladstone Reid MBE and that’s all the calm the listener gets for a while on this offering. Akala makes his appearance with ‘Welcome to Dystopia’ an anti-social conditioning song about conforming to what he sees as society’s self-destructive trends, with references drawn from The Matrix and a number of science fiction novels (The album takes its title from George Orwell’s 1984). As he raps philosophically over the electro rhythms we are introduced to what to expect from the album “do we not all worship money? When you think about it it’s quite funny.” The opening tracks mix electro with orchestral music and big beat, best illustrated on ‘Marathon Man’. Akala’s flow here mimics the aggressive hard rapping style of most UK rappers but when listening to the lyrical content you realise it is thanks to a passionate dislike of plastic rap about guns and women that he is so aggravated. ‘Doublethink’ expects the listener to do exactly that, the first single of the album ‘XXL’ is an ironic lyric light poke at the UK grime scenes forerunners, it is easy to wonder why he choose this one as his single I suspect as a Trojan horse approach at breaking the market he is still yet to be widely recognised in.
The middle of the album takes a calmer approach musically, with a couple of Spoken word contributions including the powerful ‘Peace’ the rapper paints a picture of a world with Peace after just one last war. The theme over the middle part shifts to War and Peace or the lack of and he tackles the issues just as manfully as he does the sleepwalkers. In fact throughout this album the lyrical content is flawless it’s only the production that occasionally lets things down as the mixes sometimes mean Akala is literally battling with the tracks to be heard.
[wpaudio url=”https://www.thewordisbond.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/12-Find-No-Enemy.mp3″ text=”Akala – Find No Enemy” dl=”0″]
The end of the album challenges the gangster rap scene in track ‘What is Real’, where he argues hypothetically with the rappers he believes are selling out by playing the stereotypes. Just when you think the young wordsmith has tackled all the big issues one rapper could on just one album he takes it to the next level with the ultimate question; ‘God?’ Despite the difficult subject this manages to be one of the standout tracks on the album, the electro production is just right and Akala doesn’t attempt to give any big answers just big questions. Once your head is full of all these earth shattering issues the album ends on the track ‘It’s not that serious’ here the talented rapper puts the listeners mind at ease by proposing that things aren’t that bad really. Coupled with the classical outro it’s the perfect end to an album that might have caused you to give up on the world or at least get yourself in trouble trying to change it.
It seems that after 3 albums Akala has at last settled in his niche, will it at last help him gain main stream notoriety? I suspect not but pleasingly I don’t think he cares. His message here is a positive one and though it may fall on many deaf ears if it gets through to just a few it will be worthwhile. This is an artist who deserves to be given kudos and put on a pedestal alongside those who risked fortune for the sake of pride; if he keeps this up many years from now he might be acknowledged with the John Lennon’s, Bob Marley’s and Jimi Hendrix’s of the musical world.
Buy The Album On or Amazon
Domi (Guest Writer For WIB)