UK hip-hop artist Akala to perform in Ethiopia

MOBO Award-winning hip-hop artist, writer, poet and educator Akala will thrill hip-hop fans in Ethiopia with his unique fusion of rap, rock and electro-punk with fierce lyrical storytelling on Tuesday 16 February at the African Jazz Village at the Ghion Hotel in Addis Ababa.

UK hip-hop artist Akala will perform in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo:
UK hip-hop artist Akala will perform in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo:

Organized by the British Council Ethiopia in collaboration with Selam Sounds, the concert will launch the global Shakespeare Lives 2016 program in Ethiopia, which celebrates Shakespeare’s work and influence on today’s culture on the 400th anniversary of his death.

Also performing will be seven emerging Ethiopian hip-hop artists, who have taken part in an intense four-day workshop with Akala and his Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company, organized as part of the regional HOLLA programme that also works in Sudan and South Sudan. This line-up of local talent includes Senay Mekonnen, Jukebox and Woah, who will join the Akala to provide Ethiopian fans with an evening of great performances. 

Kingslee James Daley, better known by the stage name Akala, is a label owner and social entrepreneur. He burst onto the UK underground scene in 2004, making history by being the first unsigned artist to have a video appear on MTV UK’s popular ‘TRL’ show. The year 2006 saw him drop his first album, It’s Not A Rumour, with the trance-sampling hit ‘Shakespeare’ being playlisted and championed on BBC’s Radio 1 via the support of influential DJs Zane Lowe and Pete Tong.

In 2008 he launched the The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company, a theatre production company that has sparked worldwide media interest since its inception.The company is a touring troupe that performs Akala's adaptations of Shakespeare's work (currently Richard II) and provides writing workshops for 13- to 25-year-olds. Akala's aim is to underline the similarity between the plays and the poetry of the best rappers, or, as he puts it, "the lyricism that transcends all the revenge-tragedy, Tarantino violence".

In 2013 Akala released his fourth album, The Thieves' Banquet, after being inspired by Kenyan author Ngugi Wa Thiongo's book Devil On A Cross. Check out the video for the first single from the album, 'Lose Myself' featuring Josh Osho, below.

Entrance for this week's event in Addis is free and on a first-come-first-served basis. For more details visit the Facebook events page.



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