“Lyrics, somebody want lyrics?”…..a phrase coined by the legendary Krs-One perfectly sums up the main focus of Akir’s “Legacy”, the follow up to “Street Edition” released in 2004. With “Legacy” (dropped in March 2006 on Viper Records) not only does Akir bring light back to the lyrics but rather the essence of being a true emcee is catapulted to the forefront of “Legacy”. Co-signed by executive producer Immortal Technique, Akir is heavily armed with a lyrical wit that has no glass ceiling along with a razor sharp tongue that has drawn early comparison to a young Nasir Jones during his “Illmatic-era”. While Akir may be more than deserving of the Nas comparisons, when I first heard him spit on “Rites Of Passage”, another emcee who has also been linked to Nas came to mind. This emcee also happened to be the only “guest” on “Illmatic”…..AZ, Akir’s voice and rhyme sequencing sound eerily similar to that of the aforementioned AZ during his “Doe Or Die” days. Right now, as it stands the only emcee who has blown me away lyrically in the last few years has been Blu (of the “Below The Heavens” fame), I guess you could say I’m a sucker for dope production. However, Akir has made me a believer with his impressive performance on “Legacy”, so much that I’d have no reservations stating that this is one young mic controller whom you NEED to hear sooner than later.
If you had an affinity for Public Enemy, Poor Righteous Teachers, Brand Nubian, etc. during their heyday, when emcees where actually saying something that contained substance (life’s ills, racism, politics) then Akir is right up your alley. While not as….deep as Immortal Technique, Akir creates an album that incorporates what every true underground Hip Hop head yearns for: beats that keep your neck snappin’ and lyrics that provide you with inspiration and valuable insight. I’ll make this clear, way before I get a little over my head, “Legacy” is no “Illmatic”, but there are moments on the album where Akir does display flashes of brilliance. Rhyming with the same fire and hunger with which AZ unleashed on “Life’s A Bitch” Akir flows nearly effortlessly with a confidence and self assurance that is sorely lacking in some of today’s up and comers. Touching upon racism, modern day slavery and corrupt voting on “Politricks”, Akir unleashes verbal gems such as the following:
“I don’t follow the rules/They just add to my blues/Politicians and they big feets could never fill my shoes/They don’t care/Think we all about welfare…it’s hell here/Why should I vote/Like it’s ever been fair/My people in despair/They steal ballots/We hit hard like steel mallets/Mal-intentions of the foulness and they still countin’/No child left behind/Read between the lines/Ridicule/For tryin’ Ritalin junkies/What a powerful country/That keeps promotin’ all flunkies/18 years old and your brain is like lunch meat/Programmed to follow these dummies till’ the suburbs and the slums meet/Pull us over soon as they see Blacks in the front seat/So I’ma run the streets/Fu*k freaks/In cars that thump beats/Me & mine is gonna’ be fine/Fu*k standin’ in the picket line”
Whether it’s attacking racism on “Kuta Kinte” or displaying his hustle and drive on “Grind”, Akir continually lives up to the (Unsigned) hype that has been bestowed upon him throughout various publications (you call it…XXL, The Source, Vibe, Elemental) over the past year and a half. I, for one, need to be slapped square on the forehead with a yellow sticky that reads “LATE PASS” in bold black letters. If Akir is the future of New York Hip Hop, trust me, we have nothing to worry about. As for the production, the beats showcased on “Legacy” are sequenced to provide a nice even flow to the album with the majority of bangers laced by Southpaw (Akir’s brother). Other noteworthy highlights include “Ressurect”, “Treason” f. Immortal Technique (perhaps the dopest production on “Legacy”) & the soothing piano keys featured on “Legacy” f. Mas-D & Veks-One. Clocking in at 21 tracks deep “Legacy” is an album that is a rarity in Hip Hop today, an LP that you can play out from start to finish without crouching over to reach for the fast-forward button. Akir is blessed with the gift that allows him to seamlessly interwine the personal and political aspects of his life to create a phoneomenal longplay that should never be overlooked. I’m officially an Akir fan, watch out for this cat…..he’s got the potential to be one of the “great” emcees.
Editor’s Note: This review for Akir’s “Legacy” will also be my first review in a weekly series featured at Hip Hop Linguistics.Com, one of my favorite (of course) sites for checking out “what’s good” in the Underground Hip Hop world of today. Every week I will be doing a review for a noteworthy underground release that deserves some shine. Be sure to check em’ out and thanks to Nate for the opportunity!