Me & Mom Dukes, NYC, December 2012

Music My Medicine, Yoga My Therapy #OKNotToBeOK

Mental health issues were never unusual to me. In fact, they were pretty normal and still are. When I was seven or eight my cousin attempted suicide and I walked in on her crushing pills into the bathroom carpet. I didn’t know exactly what was happening but I alerted my parents by saying she was "crushing chalk." I never saw my laid-back dad move out of that bed and into the bathroom quicker in my life. Read more

Mai Khalil - 'In Between' | EP Review

UK Hip-Hop fans might be familiar with Mai Khalil as a feature vocalist -- she's appeared on tracks with the likes of Rewd AdamsIslam Jawed and H20, and was heavily featured on Lowkey’s most recent album -- but the west London singer has now dropped a long-awaited solo offering. Citing Arabic music as an influence, Mai also fuses old-school R&B sounds with a mix of dynamic beats on her 8-track debut, In Between. Read more

Ice T talks Hip Hop power & culture, 'Art Of Rap' film on Channel 4 News [Video]

The godfather of gangsta rap and hip hop legend Ice T brought his new Hip Hop documentary Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap to the UK this week; performing alongside Melle Mel and Chuck D at it's premiere screening in London's Hammersmith Apollo on Thursday (July 19).

On the promotional run, T sat down with Channel 4 news for a lengthy interview on how the film came about, working with his peers, a quick lesson in the foundations of Hip Hop culture and gives his frank opinion on gun laws in America - in light of the recent shooting in Denver - and much more. Read more

Rewd Adams & The Last Skeptik - How Not To Make A Living | Album Review

Rewd Adams might not be a household name yet, but the south London rapper, previously known as Skandal has quietly been one to watch out for; most notably since the release of his 2011 album, Rewd Awakening. His latest project, How Not To Make A Living, links him with producer The Last Skeptik, merging Skeptik's eclectic interests [having worked and DJ'd with the likes of Sway and JehstDamon Albarn and the mighty Wu-Tang Clan] with Rewd's mix of light-hearted banter and honest social commentary. Read more

Damian Marley adds second headline show to Respect Jamaica 50th festival | UK Events

Adding to the already phenomenal lineup of the Respect Jamaica 50th festival taking place at London's Indigo2 later this month, Damian Marley has added a second date to his headlining act. Read more

Darq E Freaker : Get Familiar

Tempa T's "Next Hype" was literally a next hype when the tune dropped in clubs up and down the country and came at a time when grime music was at its peak in the UK. The producer behind the track, South London spitter turned beatmaker Darq E Freaker was little known then - but his head banger of a beat put him in good stead to become one of the UK's freshest producers. Read more

Akala - 'Knowledge Is Power Vol. 1' | Mixtape Review

The last time we had a body of work from London-hailing rapper Akala was in 2010 when he released Doublethink, a sonically experimental album marrying a hip-hop flavour with elements of rock where he firmly set the tone of his musical direction with a careful mix of social commentary and the challenging of mainstream norms with intricate wordplay, information and story telling.

Fast forward two years and the emcee is back with Knowledge Is Power Vol. 1, a follow-up in the form of a 14-track mixtape. Akala's previous projects -- in addition to his various freestyles, shows all over the globe and online presence -- have garnered him a strong and loyal fan base who have waited for this latest musical offering with great anticipation.

The tape kicks off with "Fire In The Booth," which gives us a history lesson fused with witty analogies and showcases Akala's confident live performance, as the song is a freestyle recorded for BBC DJ Charlie Sloth's hip-hop show. For listeners not familiar with what Akala stands for, this might be an overbearing introduction and the double time delivery may be difficult to keep up with.

Keeping the momentum up and continuing on the theme of knowledge is "Educated Tug Shit," the first of four features from lesser-known, fellow socially aware rapper English Frank. With its dramatic, violin-led beat, the track is an aggressive and gritty record challenging the listener to re-think their definition of a thug -- reinforcing the thought-provoking rhetoric that another thread that runs through the entire tape.

Knowledge Is Power brings to life the transition Akala experienced between Doublethink and now, as well as his constantly-developing opinions and observations. This applies not only to society, though; the main differences here are the personal touches peppered throughout where he has connected that development to his own life.

On the melancholy "Absolute Power," with its repetitive "absolute power corrupts absolutely / absolute powerlessness does the same" chorus and an equally-repetitive orchestral arrangement, we get the first taste of Akala's more emotional side as he speaks of his frustrations with power structures in society.

As an interesting pick, Akala chose "The Message," featuring london singer vocalist Selah, as the tape's first official single. Talking solemnly about a subject seemingly close to his heart -- a male's role in society and its often negative effects on the family -- Selah's rousing delivery in the chorus adds to the power of an already emotive and stimulating track.

Articulating his feelings on the state of hip-hop in a satirical fashion over a grime beat by Ripperman, Akala switches up the mood in "Who's The Gangsta," which samples Dizzee and Wiley's 2003 collaboration "2 Far." Another unexpected standout track is the cocky "I'm So Cool," where he flips it and steps into the role of a "typical" rapper by bragging about his achievements, really adding character to a "conscious" tape.

Another standout is the Roberta Flack-sampling "Behind My Painted Smile," where Akala and longtime collaborator Lowkey expose their vulnerabilities behind the façade of being a successful rapper. The last verse, where they exchange heartfelt metaphors, is another welcome insight into Akala's sensitive side.

Knowledge Is Power keeps it light on features, with only the aforementioned and underrated lyricists like Durrty Goodz and Jaja Soze making appearances. With production taken care of by D’Explicit, Last Resort, Lavar, ShabanglBeatz and Engine Earz, there's a comfortable mix of soulful beats and harder sounds.

Knowledge Is Power is the perfect title, as this is a somewhat philosophical and well thought-out project that encourages the listener to think. Overall this is a mature body of work, reflective of a rapper who is confident and educated and not afraid to show it.

Akala – Knowledge Is Power Vol. 1
Released: May 28, 2012
Label: Illastate Records
Buy: iTunes GB / /

Vonny Del Fresco : Get Familiar

Just under a year ago I came across Vonny Del Fresco on Tumblr with his cover of Childish Gambino's "Do Ya Like," sampling Adele's "Melt My Heart To Stone." His chilled flow and voice, that to me was similar [in a complimentary sort of way, as opposed to ripping him off] to that of Lupe Fiasco, instantly caught my ear urging me to keep an eye on this kid. I have done - and now it's time to bring you in on the laid back sound of the Milwaukee, Wisconsin hailing 18 year old emcee known as VDF. Read more

Yuna x PS22 Chorus give acoustic performance of "Decorate" [Video]

The very talented Yuna recently linked up with the PS22 Chorus - a New York based elementary school chorus who have become something of an internet sensation following their performances with the likes of Sinead O'Connor, Kylie Minogue, Common and Tori Amos, and a Whitney Houson tribute of "The Greatest Love of All" on the Piers Morgan Tonight show on CNN. Read more

Prodigy says second book will focus on his time in prison

It's been just over a year since his first book release titled My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy, that opened the flood gates to criticism from his peers after being accused of 'dry snitching'. Killuminati P recently told XXL that his second book will only talk about his three and a half year stint in jail from October 2007 to March 2011 for criminal possession of a weapon; an aspect he left out in the first. Read more

Maverick Sabre - "I Used To Have It All" | Music Video

Hackney born, Irish bred musician Maverick Sabre recently dropped the official music video for the single "I Used To Have It All," taken from his current album Lonely Are The Brave. Read more

Akala f/ Selah - 'A Message' | Music Video

London rapper Akala has just dropped the video from for "A Message," the first official visual from his upcoming mixtape, Knowledge is Power Vol. 1. Read more

Frank Ocean previews new song [Video]

Sweet baby Jesus. In a random post on his Tumblr page Odd Future Wolf Gang Affiliate and the best thing to have come from music in a long time Frank Ocean gave us an intimate preview to the demo of a brand new song. Unclear whether it will feature on his long awaited Def Jam debut album, he posted a video with the caption 'just at home fuckin around, no judging.'Read more

Prodigy - "Pretty Thug" | New Music

Another sample of what is to come from Prodigy's forthcoming album, the third in his Head N***a In Charge series comes in the form of this new track entitled "Pretty Thug" as P stays in lane with a message similar to that of the previous "Gangsta Love." Read more

Prodigy f/ Cory Gunz - "Great Spitters" | Music Video

You gotta rate him for his work ethnic right? For what will serve as the final cut taken from Illuminati P's H.N.I.C. 3 mixtape, we now have the official video for the collaborative track "Great Spitters" featuring Young Money's Cory Gunz. Read more

Akala spits the realness in his new 'Fire in The Booth' freestyle [Video]

London rapper Akala linked up with Charlie Sloth on his weekly Monday night hip hop show on BBC Radio 1 for his second "Fire In The Booth" freestyle. In this 14-minute freestyle, Akala first puts a hurting over the beat for Nas' "What Goes Around," showcasing a variety of flows and giving us his standard schooling whilst adding some personal touches by taking it back to his childhood; then he mellows out and performs the meaningful track "Absolute Power" from his upcoming Knowledge Is Power Vol 1 mixtape.

Check it out after the jump. Read more