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Interview : Akir Interview
By Richard Henry on August 14, 2010

Akir first entered the hip-hop scene as an on-air personality with WNMH 97.9 (Mass.) from 1994 to 1996. In 1998, he ranked 2nd out of 50 in Howard University's Verbal Armageddon, MC competition. Akir sought to improve his musical talent and began to focus on production. Collaborating with famed producer Southpaw, he co-produced for Immortal Technique's debut album Revolutionary Vol. 1 and began recording his mixtape album Street Edition 1&2 at famed “Daddy’s House” (Diddys recording studio). Spending the next couple of years traveling to every major inner city performing and hitting every available retail center selling his cd hand to hand, Viper Records expressed interest and agreed to release Akir's debut solo album, Legacy. Akir received Source Magazines "Unsigned Hype" award in the Jan-Feb 2005 issue[1] and "Off The Radar" spotlight in the April 2006 issue

What led you to become involved in the pursuit of the educational success and welfare of students?

Well early own in my life, my father always encouraged me to do a lot of out reach. It has been something that I have always pursued on my own since high school. I chose different areas to help out in volunteering, including working with the youth. It developed itself on its own. There is a strong need to aid the youth because they are the next group of people to lead us into the future. It is an important investment.

After you placed 2nd out of 50 in Howard University’s Verbal Armageddon, MC competition, did it hit you that you would achieve success in hip hop?

I do not think that was the culminating point but it allowed me to comprehend that people would actually be interested in my music. There is a point where every artist is intimidated or nervous about what people will think about their material. I still go through it today but each and every contact with someone who enjoys your music will give you the confidence.

Your album Legacy seems to encourage a kind of action to inspire change. Explain this.

I think that currently we are dealing with so many issues as people. It is definitely our responsibility to revitalize what we have currently to prepare for the future. There needs to be a challenge to create a positive action.

How wonderful has it been to be involved in the Flocabulary project?

I was sought out by the Flocabulary group and I honestly did not know to what extent that they were making momentum. I honestly entered into it as something very momentary. I thought it was a good idea but I did not know where it would lead. As it has been growing, surprisingly, people have been inquiring about it. I am very pleased and I wish them a lot of luck and I hope that it continues to facilitate education for a long time to come.

What effect do you feel that Flocabulary will have on learning?

Well as time progresses, also does learning styles. For instant it is easy to diagnose that children of the current generation are constantly switching their attention. Many have been over diagnosed with ADD and ADHD and I think that the answer is not to drug them or try to force them to a way of learning. Vocabulary will be very effective because it has several dimensions such as reading, audio tools and hopefully they will add a video medium to it. It attaches common knowledge and curriculum with a thing such as hip hop that they have a current attachment. They are taking traditional curriculum and attaching it to hip hop.

What encouraged you to develop the political, real life content found in your rhymes?

I have to be honest and say that I have always been a champion for social justice. However, I am not the authority, nor am I the most well read but I do think that it is important to resonate on the common bonds that we do have to signify freedom. Immortal Technique was an encouragement during the Legacy album to draw all the connections to the powers that be and the struggles that we are dealing with. I definitely have to give Immortal Technique props for that.

How did your album Street Edition Vol. 1&2 help your credibility as a rapper?

They were not originally available in large chain storms. It allowed people to associate my talent with another level and start to embrace me amongst the ranks of the hip hop artists. It also gave them a chance to take a piece of me with them. It is another thing to have replay value that allows people to identify with that artist and their brand.

What separates you from some of the more mainstream hip hop artists?

I am independent. From a business standpoint it is a longer road. My thinking is that eventually I will be able to have a larger profit margin and a significant return on residual income more than my major counterparts in terms of connectivity. Because of artistry, my freedom to create freely is never limited. I would be lying if I said that major industry music is not a part of my life but it is not the direction I want to go right now. I can’t say that I am closed to it but right now it is not the way I want to go.

What do you think hip hop should be in terms of its message?

Whether it is taking you to a place of imagination or if it is helping you identify your frustration or rather if it is strictly for enjoyment or makes you want to dance. It should  allow you to be free.

In what ways has Immortal Technique been an influence in your career as a rap artist?

We have been friends since high school and he just as my other friends has been a comrade, confidant, counselor and teacher. There is a whole community of artists that I have been a part of and they all add a little bit to my comprehension. Immortal Technique specifically, has taught me a whole lot about the music business, about history, about politics and he is my brotha.

What else is in store for those of us who listen to your music?

Well currently on deck I have a mix tape, it will be followed by an album called The Plan and I am working on an instrumental album produced by the production company I am a part of called The Sound and we are working on a silent movie that will be connected to the instrumental album.

For more on Akir go to his webpage at: www.alwayskeepitreal.com

Akir Interview
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