Author: Rowan Lees
Akala lives a full life, campaigning for social justice, appearing on news and debate shows (you might have seen him on your news feeds expertly shutting down former EDL leader Tommy Robinson) and even founding the highly successful Hip Hop Shakespeare Company. So when he announced another tour to commemorate 10 years since his debut album It’s Not a Rumour it was an honour for him to be gracing us with his time.
Clwb Ifor Bach’s third floor gig venue brought an intimate setting as the crowd were stirring to cuts of inspirational speeches from the likes of Malcom X and Charlie Chaplin. Akala takes to the stage with his drummer, his DJ and energy. Playing classics like Shakespeare, and Roll Wid Us, he rapped with impeccable precision; word for word and syllable for syllable in time with his backing track, a feat rarely matched by his contemporaries in rap music. Showing his incredible diversity of talent, he gave us a dramatic monologue premiered on his fourth Fire in the Booth from the perspective of wars. This compounded the mood with one of his more recent songs Murder Runs the Globe with especially haunting visuals to accompany the song’s pattering drums and frustration filled lyrics. The popularity of these new songs show his continuing and present, rising popularity. He even gave us a taste of his acting ability with a hilarious segment in full costume as ‘Pompous Peters’, a parody of upper class white establishment figures or in his words, “utter shites”.
Maybe it was the tiny elevation of the stage, but Akala seemed to be one amongst the crowd, often conducting conversations with shoutier audience members between songs. He gave a master class in showmanship and provided a night of immense entertainment to everyone attending. Towards the end of the gig, Akala announced that his first time performing at Clwb was nearly 10 years ago to the day and the night seemed a fitting tribute to how he had evolved as an artist over that long stretch of time. As the lyric in his closing encore Find No Enemy goes – “you can keep the charts all I want is your hearts” which Akala certainly did as he captivated a few hearts in Cardiff that night. It’s clear he’s not finished, he doesn’t want to go so keep an eye out for Akala’s next tour round Britain. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Akala’s fourth Fire in The Booth