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Akala - It's Not A Rumour

Akala, It's Not A Rumour

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

FROM the opening moments of Akala’s debut album, It’s Not A Rumour, it’s clear that there’s more to it than generic hip-hop, or quick-talking grime.

Indeed, the artist candidly describes much of what passes for hip-hop nowadays as “garbage”, accusing many mainstream artists of placing value on nothing except bling. His album is therefore a statement of intent, a motor-mouthed powerhouse of an album that returns hip-hop to the streets from where it was born, while simultaneously nodding its head to the rock genre.

Akala, aka Kingslee Daley, 22, is very much a man on a mission. It’s Not A Rumour attacks a lazy, retrograde rap scene from all sides, while bringing it forward and crossing genres. It deliberately crystallises everything that’s gone before it and smashes through current rap conventions.

It draws on everything from balladry and soul to trance, punk and rock, containing echoes of Jay-Z, Curtis Mayfield, Sil Austin, Naughty By Nature and cult NY folk band, The Honey Brothers.

And, for the most part, it works in spectacular fashion. Akala’s vocals may carry the brisk swagger of London and provoke easy comparisons with the likes of Sway and Kano – but his reach extends much further. Like Kano and even Roll Deep, his music has the ability to reach out beyond its genre, while its much more worthy of the sort of hype currently surrounding the over-rated Sway.

Highlights include Carried Away, a folk/hip-hop crossover that includes some actual singing from Akala, as well as some excellent guitar riffs and the sort of beat that Jason Downs or Everlast might be proud to call their own.

This Is London offers a candid look at contemporary London, updating The Clash’s anthem-like London Calling guitar riffs and dropping in some suitably emotive lyrics into the mix (single mothers dealing drugs and the ever-expanding gun culture both get referenced).

While the no-nonsense Bullshit takes a swipe at world politics against the heady backdrop of a sharp, snappy beat and some tinkling piano chords. Akala isn’t afraid to mince his words but unlike some grime artists, his hip-hop is clever enough to back everything up with some really funky beats.

There are traces of both Aerosmith and Anthrax on headier, rock-driven efforts such as album opener, Stand Up and The Edge, while Shakespeare unfolds against the backdrop of a sample of Tomcraft’s trance smash Loneliness to emerge as one of the most take-notice cuts on the record.

The album changes pace once more with the cinematic sweep of Roll Wid Us and its elaborate backdrop of strings for a record that’s every bit as effective as Dangermouse’s work with Jemini, while Cold drops a startling guitar riff that hints at the spaghetti western style of a certain Ennio Morricone.

Hold Your Head Up is a funky soul number that thrives on a smooth beat and a really strong chorus that’s delivered in supremely sassy style by Selah, while Ms Dynamite duets to incendiary effect on the bluesy, folk-infused Why Do, another of the album’s highpoints.

Many artists proclaim to be offering something different on the hip-hop scene at the moment but few do it as convincingly as Akala. He means what he says when he claims to be blowing away the garbage. It’s Not A Rumour is as smart and hip as they come on the hip-hop circuit and a downright essential purchase for any dedicated follower of the movement.

Find out more about Akala

Track listing:

  1. Stand Up
  2. Yeah Yeah Yeah
  3. Edge – Akala & Niara
  4. Shakespeare
  5. Carried Away
  6. This Is London
  7. Bullshit
  8. Roll Wid Us
  9. Cold
  10. Hold Your Head Up – Akala & Selah
  11. Why Do – Akala & Ms. Dynamite
  12. Edge

  1. I have 2 agree this album is ground-breaking, does Akala have more to offer than his sis? Yet 2 b seen but his flow, content and delivery give him a good chance

    Lewis    May 9    #