||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2011)|
|Birth name||Kingslee James Daley|
|Also known as||Black Shakespeare, The Rap Rock Electro Kid|
|Born||1 December 1983|
|Origin||Kentish Town, London, England|
|Genres||British hip hop, grime, alternative|
|Occupation(s)||Rapper, MC, poet and songwriter|
|Labels||Illa State Records|
Black the Ripper
Kingslee James Daley (born 1 December 1983), better known by the stage name Akala, is an English rapper, poet, and journalist. Originally from Kentish Town, London, his older sister is rapper/vocalist Ms. Dynamite. In 2006, he was voted the Best Hip Hop Act at the MOBO Awards.
Kingslee James Daley was born the son of a Jamaican father and Scottish mother and grew up in the Camden area of London, without the presence of his father. He was talented in numerous ways at a young age, including football where he was in both the West Ham United and Wimbledon youth teams, only to have his chances of playing professionally ended by injury. He was seen in the Sky Sports advertisement for Copa América 1999 performing football skills in a Brazilian-like kit. Daley was also regarded as a talented mathematician, and offered places at prestigious universities. He declined these, looking instead towards a career in the music industry.
Early career and breakthrough
Daley chose the stagename Akala because it is a Buddhist term for "Immovable", and started releasing music in 2003 from his own independent music label Illa State Records. He released his first mixtape, entitled The War Mixtape, in 2004. In 2006 he released his first album – It's Not a Rumour. This proved to be his breakthrough album, containing the single "Shakespeare" – a reference to his self-proclaimed title "The Black Shakespeare" – which made the BBC Radio 1 playlist. His work was recognised with the MOBO Award for Best Hip Hop Act. Additionally in 2006, a mixtape entitled A Little Darker was released under the name "Illa State", featuring Akala and his sister Ms. Dynamite, as well as cameo appearances by many other artists. Akala appeared for a live session on BBC Radio 1Xtra where he was challenged to come up with a rap containing as many Shakespeare play titles as he could manage. Akala wrote and performed a minute-long rap containing 27 different Shakespeare play titles in under half an hour. He later recorded these lyrics in the studio and turned it into the single "Comedy Tragedy History". In 2007 Akala followed up his breakthrough album with his Freedom Lasso album, containing the "Comedy Tragedy History" track. 2008 saw The War Mixtape Vol. 2 released along with an EP of acoustic remixes.
Doublethink, Knowledge Is Power, and beyond
Akala's third album "Doublethink" was released in 2010, and holds a strong theme of George Orwell's popular novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Doublethink contained tracks such as "Find No Enemy" and "Yours and My Children" detailing some of the sights he saw on his trip to Brazil. In November 2010, Akala headlined a live performance at the British Library, to launch the Evolving English exhibition and featured performances by the British poet Zena Edwards, comedian Doc Brown and British rapper/activist Lowkey. The live event also included Akala taking part in a hip-hop panel discussion alongside Saul Williams, U.S professor MK Asante and Lowkey. Akala appeared on Charlie Sloth's show on Radio 1Xtra on 18 July 2011, performing a "Fire in the Booth", and after the great reception it received (over 2,000,000 hits on YouTube), he returned again in May 2012 and provided "Part 2". In May 2012 Akala released a two-part mixtape, Knowledge Is Power, containing his first "Fire in the Booth", and followed that up with a promotional tour in the autumn of 2012. In March 2013 Akala announced via his social media feeds that his fourth album The Thieves Banquet will be released in May 2013, pushing back the future EP The Ruin of Empires to later in 2013.
The Thieves Banquet
Akala's fourth album, The Thieves Banquet, was released on 27 May 2013, including the songs "Malcolm Said It", "Maangamizi" and "Lose Myself" (feat. Josh Osho).
Akala began his career as a grime artist, but has moved away from the genre over time and has become a conscientious hip-hop artist, with many tracks containing heavily researched historical facts and deep messages. Akala's lyrics focus upon social class struggle, social conditioning and alienation among the disenfranchised.
In the same way that Akala has moved away from grime, he has also changed his stance on the use of the word "nigger". The word was used freely in his single "Shakespeare" and other recordings of the same era, however, Akala has publicly stated he will no longer use the word in his music and the word has been removed from all of his work circa 2008. Akala even goes as far as to "censor" his old work (such as "Shakespeare") when he performs it live, using other words such as "brother" instead.
His opinions are shared via his website, blog, articles on The Huffington Post, and YouTube. He has performed two TED talks, the first in 2011 discussing hip hop and poetry, specifically Shakespearean poetry, the second in 2012 explaining the meaning behind his "Knowledge Is Power" track on his self-titled mixtape.
He has performed at U.K festivals: V Festival, Wireless, Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds Festivals, Parklife and Isle of Wight and supported artists such as Christina Aguilera, MIA, Richard Ashcroft, Audiobullys, DJ Shadow, The Gotan Project and Scratch Perverts on their U.K/European tours.
In 2010, Akala toured the U.K with Nas and Damian Marley Distant Relatives tour, which included the British rapper Ty. In November 2010, he also embarked on his own headline tour of the U.K (20 dates).
Use in other media
- The song "Roll Wid Us", was used in the British film Kidulthood.
- The song "The Edge", from Its Not A Rumour, was used in the NBA 2K10' video game.
- The song "Shakespeare", was used on a Channel 4 advert for their Street Summer.
|It's Not a Rumour
|The Thieves Banquet
|Knowledge Is Power II
|Akala – Acoustic Remixes
|The War Mixtape
|A Little Darker (with Ms. Dynamite)
|The War Mixtape Vol. 2
|Knowledge Is Power Volume 1
|Knowledge Is Power Volume 2
- "Welcome To England" (2003)
- "War" (2004)
- "Roll Wid Us" (16 May 2005) – UK No. 72
- "Bullshit" (24 October 2005)
- "The Edge" (featuring Niara) (10 April 2006)
- "Dat Boy Akala" (featuring Low Deep) (2006)
- "Shakespeare" (3 July 2006)
- "Bit By Bit" (17 September 2007)
- "Freedom Lasso" (1 October 2007)
- "Where I'm From" (21 October 2007)
- "Comedy Tragedy History" (3 April 2008)
- "XXL" (19 April 2010)
- "Yours and My Children" (18 October 2010)
- "Find No Enemy" (31 March 2011)
- "Lose Myself" (featuring Josh Osho) (20 May 2013)
- "Akala Biography from official website". Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- "Youtube video of Copa America 1999 adverts". Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- "Akala interview on "The Situation" website". Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- "Akala – Fire in the Booth". YouTube. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- "Akala – Fire in the Booth Part 2". YouTube. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- "TEDxAldeburgh – Akala – Hip-Hop & Shakespeare?". YouTube. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- "The Evolution of the Emcee: Akala at TEDxSalford". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-03-21.
- "Akala". BBC. Retrieved 2015-02-22.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 18. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.