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One listen to the tongue-twisting rhymes of "Zingy", the first single off Ak'Sent's debut album, International, and you may notice, this is not your ordinary newcomer. For one thing, this fresh-faced MC is a she. And another reason: she's 18 years old. But as anyone who gets to know Ak'Sent (Krystle Johnson) soon discovers, there's much more to this unassumingly petite girl than meets the eye.

Capitol Records recognized Ak'Sent's star power immediately, signing the then 16-year-old only a day after seeing her perform at a Los Angeles showcase. Sure, the LA native had an impressive resume for her age - dance training with Debbie Allen and Lula Washington, stints in several R&B-based girl groups - but it was her fierce flow which truly wowed the room. "I feel like rap is something that's in you," says Ak'Sent. "It's a natural thing that can't be taught. Someone can learn how to sing, but rapping is from the soul." Because of her sheer determination to do things on her own, something the half-African-American, half-Latina Ak'Sent had grown accustomed to having lost her father to gang life and her mother to welfare, she was given room to grow and experiment in the studio, both vocally and musically.

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