Akala (rapper)

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Akala
Birth name Kingslee James Daley
Also known as Black Shakespeare, The Rap Rock Electro Kid
Born (1983-12-01) 1 December 1983 (age 30)
Origin Kentish Town, London, England
Genres British hip hop, grime, alternative
Occupations Rapper, MC, poet and songwriter
Years active 2004–present
Labels Illa State Records
Associated acts Lowkey
Black the Ripper
Ms. Dynamite
Sway
Durrty Goodz
English Frank
Website akalamusic.com

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.

Early life[edit]

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.[1] He was seen in the Sky Sports advertisement for Copa America 1999 performing football skills in a Brazilian-like kit.[2] Daley was also a very talented mathematician, having been awarded certificates for being in the very top few in his age group in the country, and offered places at prestigious universities. He declined these, looking instead towards a career in the music industry.

Early career and breakthrough[edit]

Daley chose the stagename Akala because it is a Buddhist term for "Immovable",[3] 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[edit]

Akala's third album "Doublethink" was released in 2010, and holds a strong theme of George Orwell's popular novel 1984. 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 1,500,000 hits on YouTube[4]), he returned again in May 2012 and provided "Part 2".[5] 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[edit]

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).

Style[edit]

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,[6] the second in 2012 explaining the meaning behind his "Knowledge Is Power" track on his self-titled mixtape.[7]

Live performances[edit]

In 2006 Akala was the first rapper to perform his own headline concert in Vietnam.[citation needed]

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 2008, Akala featured at the South by Southwest Music festival in Texas, as well as performances in New York, Los Angeles and in Brazil.

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).

He was present at One Love:No Borders Hip Hop event held in Birmingham, England, in April 2011, with Iron Braydz from London, Lowkey, Logic and other up-and-coming U.K artists.

In August 2012, Akala performed at Outlook Festival and in November 2012, he performed at the second edition of NH7 Weekender music festival in Pune, India.

Use in other media[edit]

  • 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.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Album Information
It's Not a Rumour
  • Released: 1 May 2006
  • Singles: "Roll Wid Us" "Bullshit" "The Edge" "Shakespeare"
Freedom Lasso
  • Released: 1 October 2007
  • Singles: "Bit By Bit" "Freedom Lasso" "Electro Livin" "Comedy Tragedy History"
DoubleThink
  • Released: 3 May 2010
  • Singles: "XXL" "Yours And My Children" "Find No Enemy"
The Thieves Banquet
  • Released: 27 May 2013
  • Singles: "Lose Myself" "Malcolm Said It"

EPs[edit]

EP Information
Akala – Acoustic Remixes
  • Released: 10 October 2008

Mixtapes[edit]

Mixtape Information
The War Mixtape
  • Released: 1 August 2004
  • Singles: "Welcome To England" "War"
A Little Darker (with Ms. Dynamite)
  • Released: 4 September 2006
The War Mixtape Vol. 2
  • Released: 22 September 2008
Knowledge Is Power Volume 1
  • Released: 28 May 2012

Singles[edit]

  • "Welcome To England" (2003)
  • "War" (2004)
  • "Roll Wid Us" (16 May 2005) – UK No. 72[8]
  • "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)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Akala Biography from official website". Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "Youtube video of Copa America 1999 adverts". Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "Akala interview on "The Situation" website". Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  4. ^ "Akala – Fire in the Booth". YouTube. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  5. ^ "Akala – Fire in the Booth Part 2". YouTube. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  6. ^ "TEDxAldeburgh – Akala – Hip-Hop & Shakespeare?". YouTube. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  7. ^ "The Evolution of the Emcee: Akala at TEDxSalford". YouTubeaccessdate=2013-03-21. 
  8. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 18. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links[edit]