Between talks at the Free Education MCR event and before he left to prepare for his concert at Gorilla, TNT Siobhan White managed to grab a few minutes with Hip hop Shakespeare rapper, poet and writer, Akala.
How important was it for you to attend today?
To be honest this was the first of three organisations that asked me to attend their event today and since I was already going to be in Manchester it made sense. I’m glad it worked out this way though because this is an important and eye-opening cause. It’s important to shed light on the kind of education young people are receiving.
Has the event met your expectations?
Well it’s different to what I was expecting, I’ve just decided I’m going to completely change the topic of the talk I’m doing in a minute but it’s great to see so many people aware of what’s going on and wanting to make a change.
“You guys have music, education and engaged youths, it’s looking like Manchester is the place to be right now.”
- What advice would you give to young people wanting to make it in music?
Just do what you have to, to get your music out there. Set up our own music label but make sure you’re the number one artist on it, even the only artist at first. And I’d say learning an instrument is key, I started late and now I’ve been trying for five years and I’m still rubbish! Can you imagine Jay Z and Nas in a session, just jamming on guitars? That’d be sick!
- Has your career panned out how you hoped or expected?
My views have changed a lot since I was a youth to now. People still talk about me being a MOBO Award-winning artist but I haven’t been on Radio One in nearly ten years. I left the mainstream and my style changed but I’m still putting music out, still have a following. I might not be selling out arenas but the gigs I do are enabling me to live good whilst staying true to myself.
- Was there a pivotal moment in your career that made you go from an angry, young grime rapper to what you are today?
It wasn’t just in my career it was in my personal life too. Some of the guys I was hanging with were bad- and I mean bad- and now they’re either dead or doing 40 [years] in jail. But there are still some that I’ve been philosophising with from day. I was a naughty boy and it’s not something I like to talk about too much when talking about my music…
Before I can press Akala on the life-changing event we are ushered out of the room where we are talking and he is instantly mobbed by a new crowd of fans wanting photos and music advice. Looks like our chat is over.