HAVING just finished touring a hiphop interpretation of Richard II with his production company, it’s fair to say that Akala stands apart from most musicians.
The activist, rapper and self-proclaimed “Black Shakespeare” was born Kingslee Daley and is the younger brother of Ms. Dynamite.
An intelligent, opinionated renaissance man, he kicked off his UK tour in Glasgow in assured and committed fashion. Primarily showcasing his fourth and most overtly political album, The Thieves Banquet, the title track found him offering vocal impressions of bankers, imperialists, dictators and the clergy, exhorting the audience to join in. Elsewhere he assumed the character of “Pompous Peterson”, ridiculing the UK’s supposed elite over a forceful grime beat. Backed only by a drummer, and occasionally by long-time collaborator Josh Osho – providing the soul in a heartfelt rendition of the sweeping music appreciation Old Soul – Akala has the charisma to carry even the bluntest polemic. Yours And My Children contains some fairly harrowing lyrics, but he delivers them with sustained, angry verve, while his intricate wordplay and flow particularly impressed on his cry of artistic and personal integrity, Find No Enemy. Spitting venomously through the autobiographical Fire in the Booth, he wasn’t so self-absorbed, however, that he couldn’t enjoy a bit of banter with the crowd. The heavy message, light on rhyme Malcolm Said It was the perfect encapsulation of a socially conscious performer at the height of his powers.