29th November 2012
Having delivered a lecture at MMU earlier in the day, Akala brings his Knowledge is Power tour to Manchester with this electric performance at Sound Control. In depth discussions in the crowd regarding the state of modern hip hop and misrepresentation in the media reveal a level of engagement amongst this fan base which matches any lecture audience.
Up first, Mic Righteous provides an intense warm up as he mixes a passionate, barking delivery with raw confessional lyrics exploring family troubles, isolation, past angers and present insecurities.
Akala begins his set with some tracks from his Orwell inspired third album DoubleThink, getting an initially reluctant crowd jumping with ‘XXL’ before bringing the tempo down with the more recent ‘Absolute Power’. After silencing one crowd member’s drunken (though well-intentioned) calls of “Free Palestine” and “Fuck the Tories”, Akala explodes into an a capella sprint, daring the audience’s minds to match the speed of his mouth as he lets the syllables fly. He gives his lungs no break as he recites his ‘Fire in the Booth’ (all eight minutes of it) to a group which follows his every word. The rapper’s appreciation of Shakespeare is acknowledged as he performs ‘Comedy, Tragedy, History’, a track consisting of the title of twenty seven of the Bard’s plays and sixteen of his most famous quotes.
The Knowledge is Power tour name is fitting and tonight plays out like a captivating lesson as Akala has the crowd calling out “Knowledge is Power” and “Educate Yourself”. “Sorry if I don’t dance enough for the radio to play my stuff” he chimes; no matter, the crowd moves for him and as they head for the doors when the lights come on conversations can still be heard about the issues he’s raised. Class dismissed.