• The New Counterculture

Underground Rapper: Akai Solo 

Updated: Nov 27, 2018

Akai is a rebellious hip hop artist from Brooklyn, New York who represents the individual and is the absolute opposite of the norm. Effortlessly dismembering beats with abstract lyrics and higher consciousness wordplay, he seeks to completely eradicate the barriers that separate people from each other. Akai is also the leader of the rising collective artistic movement, "Tase Grip".

How would you describe your sound?

I like to think of my sound as an expansion of black thought that will fine tune your critical thinking. I think those receptors [ critical thinking skills] have affected black people and have been dulled. I want my music to be a brain teaser for black people and put black people in a place where they see things that are not right in the world. We as black people are put in places where we are told that we are not smart or intelligent and I want my music to overcome that. My music is a vaccine for the negativity said about black people and black music. I also want to provide another platform for black people. We [ Black people] are always told to compromise a part of ourseleves and I want to make people feel okay with being themselves.

What music influenced you growing up?

When I was growing up, hip-hop music from the South was really popular. I did not really relate to the sort of hip-hop at the time, so I gravitated towards different music genres like rock and emo. I listened to artists like Panic at the Disco and Rise Against. Hip-hop music that I did listen to, though, was Aesop Rock, Gangstarr, Mos Def and Deadlung, but one of my greatest musical inspirations has to be Kid Cudi.

What MADE CUDI’S MUSIC influential?

From high school to the end of freshman year in college, I listened to Kid Cudi relentality because he made it safe to be vulnerable in music.He made it okay for black rappers to sing. He also made it okay for dudes to peel back a form of reality. He didn’t talk about shooting or fucking any bitches, but more about how you feel. How are your finances? Do you want to buy your mom a house? It opened up an avenue to make hip -hop more genuine.

How do you feel about Kanye’s music?

Kanye made it okay to be arrogant. There is something to take from that for black people. Kanye’s blueprint is all about being arrogant. People who do not like it, could fuck off. For me, I agree with some parts of Kanye’s persona; before he was cool and now he is edgy.

What other forms of art inspire you?

Anime is a huge influence for me and my art form. I have always been a fan of animes like Fullmetal Alchemist, Cowboy Beep, Samurai Jack and One Piece.I especially connect heavily with Naruto. I have loved Naruto since the 4th grade and still do. I feel as if I actually grew up with the dude. The first manga I brought was Naruto, Volume 4, and it’s still in my house. He was like my Superman. I resonate with these types of storytelling because these characters come from humble beginnings many black youth can relate to. Anime is another platform of “what if”; an alternative lense to see what life could be.

How do you think amine portrays [black] males?

The way black people are portrayed sometimes is questionable in some animes, but black people always show up elite, nontheless. The male representation [in anime] embodies courage and being comfortable with yourself. I see a lot of these ideas enforced through many anime series. Seeing these black characters in Japanese culture gives you mind- candy and makes you think critically about its complex storytelling.

You are on Social Media; How Do you feel about the use of it?

I take everything with a grain of salt. As an artist, it has its benefits and you get the most out of these outlets by using it for your own self-interest. However,I believe the most important form of getting recognition as an artist is being at the right place at the right time. The strongest links on the chain are the real interaction you have with your fans and listeners.Social media should be the icing on the cake that allows the circulation of whatever imagery you are trying to transmit to your audience to be seen.

How Do you feel about the term “ White Ally”? What Do you think could help?

Empathy is good. On a broader platform, I feel like white allies get it , but they don’t it. At this point, black people are not asking for white people to understand; we are just asking it to stop or change. White people were not subjected to the same type of servitude.Their people were not displaced. It’s more of an internal struggle [ for black people]. We need to fight this battle on our own. That is a tough pill for white allies to get. If we were meant to be equally represented, we would be.

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