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Akala

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1) DoubleThink. It’s a shock to the system - a sonic kick to the groin delivered with force and precision by someone trained in music’s equivalent of deadly martial arts. It’s not often that an album comes along that shares debts to Radiohead, Aphex Twin and Depeche Mode as strongly as to Public Enemy, the Wu-Tang Clan and Rakim, but the 26-year-old rapper, label-owner, and educator Kingslee Daley has made it his life’s work to challenge preconceptions and buck prevailing trends; and he isn’t the sort to allow himself to be fitted into any kind of mould. Breaking down the culture of cliché and stereotype that smothers the genre he loves is a major part of the mission he’s taken on, and gives impetus to this third album of pointed, perceptive hip hop music from the convention-defying emcee.

At first glance, Akala is someone straight outta hip hop central casting. The often angry child of a broken home, his schooling was punctuated by rows with teachers. After teenage years spent playing football (he was on the schoolboy books of both West Ham United and Wimbledon), he dropped out of college. Aged 12 he saw his best friend’s brother get a meat cleaver in the back of the head while sitting in the chair in a barber’s shop, a tale touched on in the DoubleThink track Find No Enemy. “What interests me, looking back now, is that nobody stopped cutting hair,” he says. “Even though I hadn’t seen that before, I just accepted. I’d heard so much and knew so many people who’d been shot or stabbed that it was just a part of life.”

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