Cultish beliefs and leftfield beats from hiphop maverick Akbar...
The esoteric teachings of the Five Percent Nation Of Islam have been referred to on many a hip-hop record, but not many MCs – apart from Rakim and Poor Righteous Teachers – have been so consumed by the lessons and ideology of the Black Muslims. Not enough to devote sizeable chunks of their albums to these beliefs, anyways. Akbar has drawn on what he learnt growing up in the Bronx and Chicago to deliver a powerful example of what hiphop really is, music-wise at least, as opposed to what record companies might think it is.
The old-school ethos of the first two salvos, the straight-ahead ‘Hip-Hop Is’ and the underachieving ‘No Suckas Allowed’, proves to be a deceptive way to lure the listener in. Once immersed in the conspiracy theories of ‘Bigga Dey Come’, and the explanation of the genesis of the universe that is ‘Drifting Through Space’, you’ll grasp the deep knowledge being imparted.
Akbar doesn’t have the best of rap flows, until he really gets going, sometimes leaving too much space between the words and the beat (as on ‘Take It There’), but he does have a way with a lyric and a soulful way of getting his point of view across.
And he would need to, to make the cultish beliefs outlined on ‘Mothaship’ believable, and to make sure the elegies for the dead on ‘Dedication’ are felt in the heart. With a production that improves as the album progresses, and beats that eschew the familiar for something left-field, yet recognisable as hiphop, it’ll be interesting to see what the future holds for him.