Let us start at the beginning, your debut album “It’s Not a Rumour”. That album was a huge success, did you really expect it would create such massive interest and credits?
Akala: I did not expect it as I never really expect anything but I hoped that it would be well received. I had set out to try and do something original and honest and felt that I had accomplished that but you still never know if people will agree so it’s incredibly gratifying when they do.
Your 2nd album “Freedom Lasso” which was released October 1st has had just as much positive publicity, how have you developed as an artist between the 2 albums?
Akala: I have developed as an artist in the exact same way that I have developed as a person in that as I experience more and grow as a human being I pour those experiences into my music. So “Freedom Lasso” is basically an elevation of all the themes and ideas (both lyrically and musically) that we’re expressed on “It’s Not A Rumour”.
One track on the new album entitled “Where I’m from” addresses the issue of gun crime and gang culture on our streets, do you think the U.K. is becoming too influenced through American Hip Hop? People are almost copying what they see in the music videos and playing it out in real life?
Akala: To be honest I feel that art imitates life not the other way round. I feel that social and economic factors play a far bigger role in the UK’s gun problem but the music is used as a scapegoat so that we as a society do not have to take any responsibility for the problem that WE have created. That’s not to say that music has no effect it’s just I feel that effect is greatly exaggerated.
You have been hailed as “The U.K.’s #1” how does that feel? It is without a doubt something any MC would be proud of.
Akala: Of course it is a flattering accolade as the standard of MC’s in the UK right now is the highest in the (English speaking) world.
Let us take our readers back before the drop of the first album and ask you, was music something you always dreamed of pursuing?
Akala: Always, the first time I performed in public I was about 7 and I have been addicted ever since. I love it more than anything in the world (except my family of course) and always have.
Who influenced you growing up within music?
Akala: Bob Marley, NWA, Public Enemy, Wu Tang, James Brown, Prince, Michael etc etc i.e musical legends!
There are many great U.K. artists out there right now flexing their lyrical skills, what do you think separates you from them in terms of your success?
Akala: I think a lot of people are just not honest, musically or lyrically and am I 100% so naturally even with the odds stacked against us we will continue to grow because it’s that honesty that connects with people.
The logo for your own Illa State Label is the Union Jack in the colours of the Jamaican flag, what is the story or meaning behind that?
Akala: My identity, my mum is Scottish my Dad Jamaican. Also I feel is a celebration of multiculturalism but on a deeper note I feel that a large amount of British-Born young black people still do not feel totally at home here and so it is representative of us that lost generation. To be honest even for a lot of white-British people (I know this because numerous people have said it to me) the regular union jack conjures up images of imperialism and therefore this one is more representative of us all.
As we mentioned earlier there is a lot of talent in this country right now, but what advice would you give to those who are just stepping out and are in need of some positive advice from someone they admire and respect?
Akala: BE YOURSELF BECAUSE NOBODY ELSE CAN DO THAT!!!
What can we expect to see from Akala in the near future?
Akala: More shows, more videos, more music.
Check http://www.myspace.com/akalamusic for details.
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us today! AKALA representing foot locker at this years urban music awards!!!
Interview for British Hip Hop courtesy of Underground Promotion UK.