Page 1


23 | THE VOICE JUNE 28 - JULY 4, 2012


Miguel accidentally kicks fan


Kerry Washington honoured

AKALA Always political

24 ! THE VOICE MAY 23 -29, 2013


They’ve made a name for themselves in one field, but these famous faces have blossomed in other areas too

LETHAL BIZZLE He rose to prominence with hit single Pow, but the UK rapper is reaching new heights (and audiences) with his line of Dench clothing

RIO FERDINAND The Manchester United defender, known for his skills on the pitch, has made a whole new fan base with celebrity magazine 5 and a range of hats

RIHANNA The singer, who has her hand in so many pies at the moment, recently launched a clothing line with River Island

JAY-Z He’s a multi-million selling US rapper, so what better business venture then to buy a New York nightclub to play and endorse his hits

JLS UK boyband JLS, who last month announced they would split, raised eyebrows when they launched their own line of condoms with Durex

MARIAH CAREY With a voice and a fortune like hers, we would just sit back and watch the cash roll in. Not our Mariah, she has a line of fragrances under her belt too!

TINIE TEMPAH He’s disturbed nearly every city around the world, so it’s only right he starts disturbing other avenues too. The UK rapper launched the Disturbing LDN clothing range in 2011

THE KARDASHIANS If they can do it, they will. The Kardashian trio recently launched a line in UK fashion retailer Dorothy Perkins. Of course, this is just one of their business ventures

BEYONCÉ Mrs Carter has a voice as smooth as chocolate, so it’s only right she smells as sweet. The former Destiny’s Child star recently launched her second fragrance, Heat

TINCHY STRYDER Our ‘Stryderman’ is one astute businessman. He balances a music career with his line of popular Star In The Hood clothing

KANYE WEST He’s got a baby on the way, so US rapper Kanye West is maximising all of his revenue streams. He debuted his spring/summer fashion collection in Paris last year

JORDIN SPARKS Singer Jason Derulo can’t get enough of his girl Jordin. Want to know her secret? We think it lies in her debut perfume Because of You

P DIDDY With a lifestyle that involves lots of drinking and partying, it’s advised to rehydrate with plenty of water. Do you think that’s why P Diddy launched his own brand?

CHRIS BROWN When Chris Brown isn’t busy organising his chaotic love life, he’s spending time working on his new clothing line, Black Pyramid

LEONA LEWIS The UK singer has one of the most enchanting voices, we wonder if her fragrances have the same effect? She launched her self-titled scent in 2011

:DUVDQ6KLUH USHER He may have a very successful music career, but Usher is becoming quite the perfumer, with a growing list of fragrances under his belt!

NICKI MINAJ Everything is pink when it comes to US rapper Nicki Minaj; her hair, her album title and her debut perfume Pink Friday

UPON LEARNING that her mother had been in a car accident, Warsan Shire could only think in poems. “Every person I spoke to and every scene seemed to be happening to me in the form of a poem,� the 24-year-old said. “That’s when I realised that if I didn’t have poetry, I don’t think I’d be able to function normally as a human being – I don’t think I’d be able to experience things and come out the other side,� she added. But at the time of learning about her mother’s unfortunate

circumstance, Shire heard some other news: she had been awarded the inaugural ÂŁ3,000 Brunel University African Poetry Prize, founded by creative writing lecturer Bernardine Evaristo, also a published novelist. More than 655 entries from emerging poets were received, which was then whittled down to a shortlist of six. Shire was a clear winner. One of the judges, Sharmilla Beezmohun, described her work as “beautifully crafted, subtle and understatedâ€?.



MAY 30 - JUNE 5, 2013 THE VOICE ! 25

UK rapper Akala talks to YV’s Elizabeth Pears about turning 30, playing for West Ham and why he rejects the term ‘conscious rapper’


APPER AKALA is an artist who has made a career in the music industry by recording to his own beat. The one-time north Londoner who waved goodbye to Kentish Town and “defected” to west is far more likely to be heard calling out the government, speaking out about class warfare and racism than devoting lyrics to money, cars and women. His refreshing approach has not only won the musician huge respect, but has earned him a reputation as one of the most grounded artists on the scene, too. With his fourth album The Thieves Banquet out now on his own record label, Illa State Records, the straight-talking Mobo Award-winning artist says life has never been better. “I feel quite content,” the 29year-old admits as he reflects upon his upcoming 30th birthday. “I have got to a stage over the last decade where things

actually have a pattern. I have a fan base that allows me to put out quality music - or what I hope is quality music - consistently. There is a career here.” Success has offered some luxuries and experiences far beyond his humble inner city beginnings which Akala happily accepts. “I am very privileged and I’m conscious of that even when I’m criticising the hypocrisy of our power structures. I am in a very different position now than I was when I released The War Mixtape (in 2004) but, hopefully, my music reflects that while maintaining the same passion and energy.” Fans will not be disappointed by his latest offering which features an appearance from the super-talented, and now good friend, Josh Osho on lead single Lose Yourself. Akala’s high-energy flow is a given, but the live band he recorded the album with elevates the work to a new level, giving it a timeless quality.

It is his most developed work to date. “I’d like to think so anyway, but I’m biased,” Akala says with a laugh. “I make music that reflects my own personal tastes so people are free to make up their own minds. The title track is one of my favourites because I get to do a bit of acting in the song. I play four different characters… you’ll understand when you hear it.” He adds: “The main theme of the album is the corrupting nature and ugliness of power. I’m not pretending it’s an absolute truth. It’s just my perspective as a young African Caribbean male in Britain; reflecting my view of society and how I’ve come to see things through my life experiences, the hypocritical things I see, the problems I see and the beautiful things I see, too.” It’s easy to see why Akala is talked about in terms of being a “positive” and “conscious” hip-hop artist –

although he rejects those labels. He explains: “I’m always talking politics. Because politics is not just something that happens in Parliament, it is how we fit together in society. “A rapper rapping about Gucci is political statement it’s a choice to support an Italian corporation. Young African American men rapping about French champagne and German cars is very, very political. I made a choice to rap about issues that might be seen as traditionally political, so perhaps that has something to do with what people mean when they say ‘conscious rapper’. To me, I’m just talking about life.” Akala, born Kingslee Dale, on December 1, 1983, was probably always going to be an outspoken critic of the world he lived in. Growing up, his parents enrolled him at a Pan-African Saturday school, in Camden, north London. His stepfather was a stage manager at Hackney Empire, giving a young Akala the chance to immerse himself in shows like Sarafina! and Black Heroes in the Hall of Fame. “I had a very culturally-specific upbringing that was very musical thanks to my parents,” he points out, citing Bob Marley, Ray Charles and James Brown as early musical influences for him and his famous sister, UK lyricist Ms Dynamite. “I went to Notting Hill Carnival every year with my Saturday school and festivals like Reggae Sunsplash. I was raised on African Caribbean

culture and that is what I practise as a rapper. “You can’t see black people singing soul on national TV anymore. You can barely see black rappers anymore unless they’re wearing sunglasses, bogling and playing the stereotype. There’s a strange relationship between racism and white obsession with black culture. It’s a difficult line to tread as an artist because I don’t care what my supporters look like, but it’s important to be culturally grounded and my upbringing definitely gave me that.” Before getting into music professionally, however, Akala was a talented footballer at West Ham’s youth academy, playing alongside Premiership names like Anton Ferdinand. “I never loved football the way I loved music. Luckily, a door opened, and I walked


The Hollywood actress landed an honourary doctorate in fine arts from her former university

through,” he says simply. Clearly, he has never looked back. In 2008, he founded the Hip Hop Shakespeare Company, to “reclaim the misconceptions about hip hop and Shakespeare, using the best of both to push people forward”. This summer, the music theatre production company will showcase Richard II starring British rapper Bashy. Between that and running his record label, Akala has his hands full but he wouldn’t have it any other way. “The music industry is run by people who don’t always have the artist’s interests at heart. To be able to do what I love and make a living makes me feel like one of the luckiest people on the planet.” The Thieves Banquet is out now through Illa State Records. For more info follow @akalamusic on Twitter


The celebrity couple announced the birth of their first child, daughter Alaia-Mai


Dear Kat, I wonder if you can help me. I have a group of friends that I’ve been hanging out with for years but I’m starting to feel like an outsider. I’ve noticed that they’ve stopped inviting me places only for me to log onto Twitter or Facebook and hear that they’ve been out and about and not bothered to tell me. I don’t want to sound pathetic, but it’s really starting to upset me now. What do I do?




Our favourite veteran actor showed his age when he fell asleep during a TV interview


The Adorn star accidently drop-kicked a fan in the face when attempting to crowd surf at a recent concert

Hi K, You’re not being pathetic at all. Any way you look at this, you’re being treated unfairly and you are well within your rights to be upset. There’s obviously an issue within your crew and you need to get to the bottom of it. Ask your friends to meet with you and explain to them that you’ve noticed they are excluding you from activities. Your aim is to get to the root cause of their issue with you, because it’s obvious that there is one. Depending on what they come up with, work on ways this issue can be resolved. There’s a possibility that they will deny that there’s a problem and you can’t force the issue. Maybe the mere fact that you’ve brought it up may change things. Let me know how you get on.




Following the gruesome knife attack on a solider in Woolwich last week (May 22), UK rapper Boya Dee, who witnessed the incident, took to Twitter


““This story is not about ME And doesn't need to be sensationalised anymore by me selling my story for a few bucks"


Simple, stylis h, stunning Boya Dee


26 ! THE VOICE MAY 30 - JUNE 5, 2013


A and NAO


To access Mobil app for The Voice

SCAN ME VOTE NOW!! Email us at or tweet us @Youngvoicesmag #YVPosterBattle

Young voices akala edition  

UK rapper Akala talks to Young Voice's Elizabeth Pears about turning 30, playing for West Ham and why he rejects the term ‘conscious rapper’...