We are not going to bore you with a beautifully crafted biography with a double dose of adjectives and extra metaphors, because you should already know plenty about the brutally conscious history lesson that you never had, Akala. (Whoops! See what we did there?) Knowledge Is Power Vol.2 is his fifth album which would be classed as a studio album, but for the independent juggernaut that is Kingslee James Daley this be a silly term.
Hip hop is many things and you can be proud if you are content with any of its aspects, but something you have to take an interest in, listen too or even just believe in, is truthful hip hop. Not just ‘conscious’ hip hop or ‘political’ hip hop, but music that makes you more aware of your surroundings and yourself. This album is exactly is that.
Now his previous masterpiece The Thieves Banquet was not just a tribute to truth and awareness, but something else which Akala is extremely passionate about, real music. Every instrumental was recorded with a live band exposed his passion for real music. But diversity is a skill and he produces it when needed brilliantly. His 2010 release DoubleThink was an electronic album, this project however is an old school boom bap album. There are some instruments over the top but its a sample driven concept representing hip hop and also his love for the art.
This platform has allowed Akala to do something which you can tell he buzzes from, release some absolute fire. This can be seen on the brilliant ‘Mr Fire In The Booth‘; a fitting introduction to this album. “They call me Mr Fire in the Booth protect your neck, cos its Sun Tzu with a hoodie on, plato with a pair of creps, use to reppin’ where there’s weapons and never a santa, we turn a stanza to a cancer with poetic banter“, is what he spits as he rips through those boom bap drums.
Once again on ‘Urge To Kill‘ he speeds up and confesses, “however much we detest, we cannot deny it, cos murder has both hurt and helped human life, and anybody, everybody has a human right, to defend themselves from oppressors with a greater might, I look around this world, such a bloody sight, I wanna know do you ever have the urge to kill?” Here, through aggression and passion, he has reinserted himself into hip hop forcibly.
If you’re a fan of Akala of course you thrive on listening to that ‘political sheeet’, do not panic this album delivers in most aspects including this one. He brings to light historical issues that will make you sit up, but more importantly he gives them modern relevance and urgency which definitely makes you listen. On ‘Sovereign Master‘ he delivers; “every kid who in the hood who living’s with a death wish, is the same as the King who kills for the bling, but he is just much more reckless, it’s the King that I’m talking about, though he is born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he is still gonna clap for the slightest of chat“. Comparing the devastating cruelty of a ‘divine’ monarch with the oppressed violence often associated with modern gang culture.
However, this album is more than just truthful concepts of what is around us and what we need to understand in this world, it’s also a key to some narratives and ideas about ourselves. One of the most admirable parts of this album is the track ‘Time to Relax‘ where Akala reminds us and also himself that we need to sleep. We need to relax and allow our bodies to recharge. He declares how important is it for us to pause our obsessive ambitions and just appreciate the world for a moment or two. He states; “however much you train, muscles only grow when you rest ‘em, yet I don’t make enough time to stop and pause for reflection, go and check my mum, talk about nothing much, on a sunny day, sit in the park, stare at the sun, feed the ducks, ride a bike, shit sit in a tree, anything to escape the stress that the city will breed“. This message is more important today than it has ever been.
This album is something that not just UK hip hop needed but Akala needed as well. Not just a brilliant passion driven boom bap collection of hip hop. Not just a truthful reality of historical events you will not know combined with harsh realities I’m sure you do know. Not just a direct album you could describe with just the title of each track. Knowledge Is Power Vol. 2 is also a reminder that if you’re so busy trying to help people and make the world a better place, you could possibly forget about yourself along the way.