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The Review - MUSIC - grooves with ROISIN GADELRAB
Published: 9 October 2008
24 and there’s so much more


AKALA is one of the friendliest rappers you’re likely to meet. Minutes before the world preview of his new live band ensemble at last week’s BT Digital Music Awards, he’s relaxed, chatty and genuinely happy to speak to Grooves.
The Kentish Town rapper – brother of Miss Dynamite – is so keen to introduce every member of his new band that he introduces each by name: twice.
And after the ceremony, where he lost out on the award for best urban artist to no-show Wylie, he’s still smiling.
He leaves, happily wheeling a suitcase belonging to drummer Cassell, and when asked why he’s roadying for his band he says: “We’re family, there’s no hierarchy.”
He’s clearly won the respect of his band, who believe he should have won a digital award because he built up his fanbase as well as his band through the musician’s paradise that is MySpace.
As violinist Tom Evans said: “He’s built his whole band from MySpace – what musician has done that? And he’s only 24.”
Akala is known for his love of Shakespeare, so at last week’s show he performed an old track, Comedy Tragedy History, cramming in 27 of the Bard’s plays.
Akala said: “This is an exclusive preview of what’s to come. I’m loving working with the guys, there’s a whole new energy coming from the band. The new album has been written fully live. I’m really happy to have been nominated because the digital world is important for all independent artists like me.”
The rapper, who has just released War Mixtape Vol 2, said: “I’m rapping over traditional hip-hop beats but also beats from Radiohead, Artic Monkeys, Tricky and Prodigy. There’s also an acoustic remix EP out digitally on October 13 with four acoustic remixes of existing Akala songs and two brand new songs.”
Akala no longer lives in Camden but, he said: “There’s a vegan café on the Lock called Inspiral. I’m a vegan so I set up office there nearly every day. They have really great nights with spoken word and live music.”

* Akala plays Bar Academy Islington on Wednesday (October 15)

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