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” Akbar On The Battlefield “

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*All flicks courtesy of AKBAR (damn, straight up classic ones at that).

Just like many of you, the first time I heard AKBAR rhyme was on “AKBAR’S GROOVE”, from Jamalski’s well received Roughneck Reality album (Columbia 1993)…And just like many of you, I was completely stunned while listening to AKBAR thoroughly tear the mic to shreds with brutal punch lines, raw poetics, and battle gladiator bravado…

In 2001 he dropped his full length “Big Bang Boogie” on Ill Boogie Records.. Which led to him rocking numerous feature verses throughout the years..

This Chicago transplant from the Boogie Down Bronx recently released another full length entitled, “PLANET X” on Peasant Podium Records…I highly suggest that you give it a thorough listen troopers….

I recently linked up with AKBAR to discuss the current state of Hip Hop affairs, Chicago / Chiraq , Graff, and all types of other wild shit that will hold your attention – so walk with us as we drop conversation..

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HHB- 1..The first time I heard you rhyme was on “AKBAR’S GROOVE” from Jamalski’s “ROUGHNECK REALITY” album….How did that collaboration come about ?

I was livin in Chicago and my DJ P-Lee saw Jamalski in a magazine and was like “Yo thats my mans, I know him from livin in Manhattan” We decided to go to NY and link up musically. He introduced me to Jamal and we clicked. Jamal was in the midst of recording the “Roughneck Reality” LP on Columbia. Parker ended up getting a lot of production on the album. I was always hangin out @ Unique Studios while the album was being done and one day he let me go in the booth. Parker had this raw beat I was really feeling. I basically went in and spit for about 4 minutes- no hook. They cut it down to the last 2 minutes and it became “Akbar’s Groove”. I didnt know it would end up on the album.

Picture 9HHB- 2..It seems as if JAMALSKI has ventured into the drum & Bass scene as of late…Did you two ever have a plan to release an album as a group ?

Not really. After Jamal finished recording the album me and P returned to Chicago but we kept in touch. Jamal eventually moved to France and got into the D&B scene. I just kept doin my thing on the underground.

HHB- 3..At the time when AKBAR’S GROOVE dropped I was feinding to hear an album from you.Why was their a delay between that time period and your debut on ILL BOOGIE records ?

In hindsight I probably should’ve stayed in NY a little longer and networked etc. Honestly I wasn’t very impressed with the industry thing at that time. I saw Nas and the Fugees getting signed but I also saw cats getting pimped. I felt like I needed to go back to my stompin’ grounds in ChiTown and get more seasoned as an emcee and more knowledgeable about the business first.

HHB- 4..It’s obvious that you spend a tremendous amount of time crafting your lyrics….Who were some of your influences on the mic?

Have to say my 1st influence was my dad. He used to do something called toasting. It was colorful poetry sorta like spoken word. He would talk about slick cats in straw panama hats who wore rings with stones that glowed in the dark. He also played “The Last Poets” who I later studied in my early 20s. And of course James Brown. My dad became friends with Muhammad Ali after writing him a poem called “Glory be to Muhammad Ali” and sending it to him. About a month later I remember he got a letter back from the Champ inviting him to visit his estate. I was inspired by that. My other influences are Spoonie G, Grand Master Caz, and Ninja Man.

HHB- 5..Do you listen to a beat before you write, or do you put together your lyrics without one ?

Both. I never sit down and write a rhyme on paper. Ive tried doin that but its not how i create. Im what I call a skywriter. I write songs in my head and store them in the medulla oblongata for later reference. They may or may not end up on paper later. Lately I’ve been challenging myself to actually sit down and write a 16- Im getting better at it.

HHB- 6..You also get busy with the aerosol…..What was Chicago like before the buffing became so heavy in the city ?

It was like NY in the early 80’s all over again. Im one of the pioneers of that movement.

HHB- 7..Since were talking about graff, it’s only right that I mention the untimely passing of Kool Kep from the X-Men a few years back……What were some of your fondest memories of him ?

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Kep was a real dude I knew him before he got started writing. I was like a big brother. Kep had real love and respect for the culture and became a very talented graff artist in X-Men Crew. My fondest memories are goin to see him off Wilson behind Truman college just before he made the transition. We would break bread together, burn a few, share rhymes, and talk about life.

HHB- 8..In your opinion, what is the legacy of the X-Men in Chicago ?….

That would be Parker Lee’s doing. Parker and I stopped bombing hard in the early 90’s so he started X-Men to keep the northside graffiti presence strong. P used to run with a few X-Men writers back in NY so he just decided to open a Chicago chapter which later got recognized and honored by the NY heads.

HHB- 9…What are your opinions of the media coverage when it pertains to Chicago ?….Why is their usually a emphasis on the gang-banging culture instead of the other great things that are being done in the city ?

Well, one- because Chicago still gets it in and the gang culture is still very much a apart of the landscape. And 2- more importantly, if you fill the public’s mind with the problem over and over, that’s what you will continue to get- more of the problem.

HHB- 10…Views on the Trayvon Martin case ?

The media will always publicize and sensationalize these types of cases to induce fear and perpetuate a victim mentality in the minds of the masses. Black youth get murdered in the streets everyday and they remain nameless statistics. We gotta think above this and not allow ourselves to feel helplessly oppressed. The danger is real but fear is a decision.

HHB- 11..Views on current Hip Hop ?

I listen to everybody because I need to be in tuned to the present collective consciousness. I find whats good and I resonate with it- whats wack I leave alone. I’ve never liked everything that rap had to offer ever since I first started listening to hip-hop so really nothing has changed. I gravitate towards what appeals to me. I will never be one to say “oh hip-hop is dead” or it needs to go back to the 90’s sound because that’s not how things work. I move with the times and constantly re-invent myself as a leader not a follower of trends. Open minds create new ideas while those stuck in a particular era become antiquated in their thoughts and eventually fade away- this is one of the keys to immortality.

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HHB- 12..1985 or 1995?

1985 it was Kangols and fat laces. We were fresh and carefree. 1995 it was boots, Tim suits, and camouflage; we were preparing for battle.Two different states of mind.

HHB- 13..If there were 3 things you could change about the Hip Hop “industry”, what would you change ?

I dont know if I would change anything, we as artists just need to start our own industry that way we cant blame anyone else when the wackness gets pushed ahead of good music.

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HHB- 14..Most of the joints you dropped with longtime collaborator P-LEE as the Mental Giants have aged very well…Is there any unreleased MENTAL GIANTS material in the stash ? If so, do you plan on releasing it….

Yes, there are a few gems in the vault. Parker is sitting on a lot of old stuff. We’ve talked about putting some of it out but my mind is always so far into the future I’ve never really given it serious thought.

* Be on the lookout for part 2 of AKBAR on the battlefield next week….We chop it about upcoming releases, the west coast, house music’s impact on Chicago’s club scene, etc…

Below are a few choice AKBAR cuts to boost your Hip Hop morale levels….Big shout out to my Chicago / Chiraq connection, BIG MATTROCKS (Vendetta Vinyl)..

And you know I had to throw up the stellar “Poom Poom” remix for everyone out there that knows what time it is..Damn, those were the days, right ?

5 responses

  1. great interview Drasar !! nice work

    July 4, 2013 at 9:37 AM

  2. kenard jackson

    Man fam fam this is history. BIG DA FUK UP!!!!

    July 7, 2013 at 7:03 AM

  3. DOPE Blogsite Gee! Much RESPECT!

    July 8, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    • Nuff respect to all of you checking in….(I SEE YOU)..

      Be on the lookout for part 2 this week…


      July 8, 2013 at 10:09 PM

  4. Pingback: ” Akbar On The Battlefield, Part 2 “ | hiphopbattlefield

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