It is fairly safe to say Akala is one of THE most technically gifted Emcee’s in the UK, with his ability to deliver complex rhythms at double bpm spittin’ historical facts in an easy manner.
His recent performance at the Jazz café reflected that skill with an impressive live set. Akala’s new E.P, Knowledge Is Power Volume 2 has a very different feel to its earlier counter part, with more verbal aggression.This is a review of the live show.
Akala has stated previously that he prefers live instruments. The day saw a live band on stage, and sound timbre encompassing an almost acoustic live set. Accordingly, the set was opened with ‘Bang With Us’, a track one could say is a dedication to Hiphoppas; “We’ve been on this ting for so long now”. Well, Akala doesn’t look like he’s gonna stop anytime soon, as I’m sure the fans agree. We ain’t stopping either. ‘Mr Fire In the Booth’ soon followed, a track very politically charged and aimed at young people and the Truth,
Two aspects Akala has managed in all four of his Fire in the Booth sessions with Charlie Sloth is droppin’ knowledge with style.
As the set continued, “I’m ready for you like Sun Tzu!” arguably one of the best songs on the Knowledge is Power Vol.2 was quickly switched up to ‘Malcolm said it’ and ‘Old Soul’ seeing the stage blessed with the Presence of Niles Asheber from the Afrikan Revolution. In the Illastate fashion, the Caribbean flavors were drawn up in a freedom from struggle vibe and an introspective view of the progression of the soul. Interestingly, one could better get to know the concept of an old soul in Akala’s illustrated novel ‘The Ruins of Empires’. We also heard a well-delivered verse live from the novel on the day, which was intensely poetical.
Pompous Peterson’ the well-spoken, proper English rap was dropped straight after a Roll With Us mashup, a testament to how Akala’s style and prowess has developed in over a decade of diligent and eloquent rhymes. By This time the feel was highly anticipating and electric.
‘Murder Runs the Globe’ was a powerful heavy hitter outlining the war and bloodshed around the world. We all know it, but for some reason we can just barely have a hand in stopping it. This track gave us this expression through the performance. It was succeeded by ‘The Fall’ and guest appearance of Amy True! (Big up). Maybe we’re in the time of “The Fall of the empire”. Either way, we’re living right now through some ominous but beautiful times and we ARE the Hip Hop Nation!
Some of the tracks were met with short interludes, with Akala speaking to the audience. one thing I remember was the “sophisticated London crowd” and yeah, it seems the London heads didn’t get super amped up this evening. Everyone seemed to appreciate the message and content of the lyrics more, which gave the atmosphere a unique contemplative presence without losing any of the energy of a Hip Hop show. It could even be that London broke the barometer when asked to raise the levels.
The levels were taken down shortly afterward with ‘Time to Relax’ and believe, bringing in more of the thoughtful mood when this track came on. One hardly knows how Akala has the time to relax with everything he does. Its true though, we all gotta make time to relax. This song was accompanied with some a heart felt mellow ambiance. Ayanna Witter-Johnson joined the stage shortly after to continue with a soft, gentle presence, with the sounds of melody and harmony for the evening. It was ensued by ‘The Riddle of Life” which is a tune! Kop the album.
Once ‘Our Way, The Way’ had finished, we were joined by Mic Righteous for The Journey’. Both Emcees suffice to say, went in. The spittin’ was fire, quick and up-tempo. The bars were raw and well delivered. If something was gonna end the evening, then after this track the evening was over. “Every journey begins with just one step”.
Yet, after Akala had left the stage, someone started a “one more song chant” and we got one. Faced with immense cheers and delight, the evening was finished with a resonant rendition of “Find No Enemy”. Much respect to Akala, Mic Righteous, Niles Asheber, Ty and Amy True as well as the Illa State team who stuck around well after the show to speak to fans, that topped a fantastic evening.
By Emcee ShvaOne