Akala’s come to be known as one of British hip hop’s most philosophical thinkers, dealing with harsh and often unsavoury topics to portray his view of the intricate realities of modern life. Ahead of his show at Birmingham's O2 Institute2 on October 13th, we’ve trawled through his extensive back catalogue, searching through his words of wisdom to compile a few thought-provoking quotes from the founder of the Hip-Hop Shakespeare company.
“I don't spit what I don't know
Just the facts
No talks of rocks I ain't sold
Shots I ain't blown”
Akala has a lot to say about Hip-Hop’s social obligations, and uses Shakespeare to take a carefully aimed shot at many a hip-hop peer, dismissing and scalding the all-too-common tendency for rappers to glamourise and exaggerate crime in order to sell records, perpetuating and fulfilling stereotypes attached to the genre as they do so.
Fire In The Booth
“One too many man you know get cut up
One too many man that could’ve been doctors
End up spending their whole life boxed up”
A haunting observation of wasted potential, the Londoner notes how genuine social mobility is still inhibited by entrenched prejudices and exposure to criminal activity in rough areas.
Find No Enemy
“The only way we can ever change anything
Is to look in the mirror and find no enemy”
Often dark in his outlook, the final lines of Find No Enemy offer a philosophical conclusion, reflecting the importance of self in our dealings with the rest of the world.
“Go to Glastonbury any year
You will see, unlike carnival
It won't be crawling with police”
Using two arts festivals as a vehicle for a comparison of institutional inconsistencies, Akala notes the preferential treatment that is afforded to middle-class activities, pointing out the heavy police presence at Notting Hill Carnival.
Riddle of Life
“No beginning or end but there’s a life in the middle”
It’s good to end on a positive note, and Akala does that in his wrestle with the ultimate question during Riddle of Life. Having mused over religion and whether life has purpose, Akala finishes by suggesting that we should focus on living the life that we are given. Maybe it’s not all doom and gloom after all.
Akala will be preachin' and teachin' upon the stage of O2 Institute2 Thursday October 13th.
Words by Andrew Kemp
Photos courtesy of Akala