Akala: The Hip Hop Prophet

What is a prophet?

If you’re like me, when you think of a “prophet” you conjure up an image of an austere bearded man in the Middle East somewhere several centuries ago, shouting at passers-by in a market square. This chap is very angry and spends his time warning anyone who will listen about the impending catastrophe that is about to befall them from God, unless they change their ways.

A prophet is usually seen as one who predicts the future, hence the term “prophetic.” And according to the Bible and other texts, this is indeed a big part of the prophet job spec.

But a prophet doesn’t necessarily tell the future. He or she (despite its generally patriarchal and somewhat misogynistic outlook, the Bible does affirm that women could be prophets) is also someone who speaks about and critiques present day realities. I think of people like Martin Luther King and Omowale Malcolm X as great African prophets of the past century. Their words were like flaming arrows, telling America and the world, just how unjust and ugly it really is.

It might seem a bit outlandish, but I believe that we have a prophet in our midst, right here in north London. I’ve seen Akala (aka Kingslee James Daley) perform live a few times and I’ve also seen several of his talks and lectures and I’m always impressed by his clarity and by how deep he thinks about a range of subjects. For me, he shares the same sprit as MLK and Malcolm, the ability to speak uncompromising truth in a manner that is engaging and inspiring. He has recently released his latest album, Knowledge is Power Vol.1. More details on his website www.akalamusic.com.

I’m sharing two examples of his vision and clarity. They are two completely different audiences but in both cases, he commands the audience’s full attention.

The first is a rhyme he delivered at a school in 2011 (I think). I especially love this because of the way the young students are all hanging on his every word, even though he’s going for nearly 10 minutes… with no beat.

The second vid is a TED talk that he did on the connections between Hip Hop and Shakespeare.

Thus sayeth I and I, don’t sleep on this brother. www.akalamusic.com

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