Akala is a man of many talents and is a successful rapper, author, journalist and political activist. Over the course of his career, he’s won countless awards for his music including honours at the prestigious MOBO Awards. Named by Powerlist as one of the 100 most influential black people in the UK, he is also an outspoken political activist regularly calling for social change and this is something he often discusses during his BAME speaking events.
His debut album, It’s Not a Rumour, was released in 2006 to huge critical acclaim. The success of this album saw him honoured at that year’s MOBOs where he was named the ‘Best Hip-Hop Artist’. Akala lists the likes of Saul Williams and Gil Scot-Heron as his musical inspirations and due to the success of his work he soon found himself touring nationwide. As well as selling out his own shows he also toured with some of the biggest artists in the world such as Jay-Z, Christina Aguilera and Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz fame. When booked as a BAME speaker Akala is able to explain to audiences his extraordinary rise to the top showing them what is possible when you put your mind to it.
However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing growing up. Born and raised in London he describes his upbringing as typical of the ‘cliched single-parent working-class family.’ Despite being a child, his mother was keen that Akala understood about racism in society and educated him on black history. Giving him a thorough understanding of racial tensions from an early age has stood Akala in good stead for his career as an activist and BAME speaker. Due to his underprivileged upbringing, for a time Akala carried a knife when out and about in London and he frequently discusses knife crime during his BAME talks.
Most recently Akala has become best-known for his political activism and he’s written countless books and papers on racism in society. His book Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire outlines how his success in the music industry is not a result of equality but instead demonstrates a system that allows a few minorities to break through while oppressing the majority.
As well as this he has set up his own music theatre production company called the Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company. The company focuses on the cultural and linguistic parallels between William Shakespeare and modern-day hip-hop and this role occupies a lot of his time.
When booked as a BAME speaker Akala can demonstrate the captivating and thought-provoking persona that has seen him published in the likes of The Guardian and Huffington Post. Always leaving a profound impact on audiences they’ll go away questioning their own role in society to combat inequalities.
Akala is regularly booked to engage audiences at events, read their latest feedback below:
“Completely engaging, and the breadth and depth of his knowledge was amazing. He was a resounding hit”- Oxford Brookes University
“He was excellent from the beginning to the end of his talk. He’s a very eloquent speaker; presented his material flawlessly.”- Kingston University
“As a Citi employee I’d like to thank Akala for speaking last week. I learned a great deal and am extremely grateful.” – James, Citi Bank