Friday, July 11, 2008

Battle Cry

I have been listening to the new Akrobatik for the past couple weeks, and for a first encounter, I am pretty impressed. Boston isn’t really the first place that comes to mind when you think about Hip-Hop from the Northeast, but Akro holds his own on his newest release, Absolute Value, while boasting battle tactics for the conscience few.

The album really caught me by surprise. I hadn’t heard about him at all going into Absolute, but did recognize parts of the album’s entourage. The most obvious attraction was “Put Your Stamp On It,” featuring production by the late J.Dilla and tag-team rhymes with Talib Kweli, but that’s just the beginning of guests that show up. Mr.Lif and Little Brother chip in on “Beast Mode” and “Be Prepared” respectively, even legendary MC Chuck. D throws down some narration on “Kindred” ft Brenna Gethers. Akro boasts, “...check the archives, back in 95” on the title track, and on Absolute, there’s a veteran crew to vouch for him.

Akro’s delivery is loud and in your face, just like his New York neighbors, but it’s the content that hits your from a different angle. He preaches that there is too much conscious Hip-Hop afraid to pull the trigger behind the mic, and too much commercial Hip-Hop selling guns not music, and on one hand I agree, but also have to take issue with the notion of an absolute voice in Hip-Hop. Akro has a style rooted in old school greats like KRS One, which is pretty much impossible to knock, it’s when his attack slows down on the R&B tracks, “Kindred” and “Rain,” that his Absolute Value seems to run out of ammo. The last track, “Back Home To You,” is a dedication to his wife and seems out of place, but I can’t hate, you should stick around anyway for the hidden electro-funk that follows.

Like I said, I can’t hate. The album is full of huge beats and Akro stands tall with them. “Soul Glo,” “Black Hell Breaks Loose” ft. Willie Evans Jr. & Therapy, “If We Can’t Build” ft. Bumpy Knuckles, and the title track rain down like angry fists and capture Akro at his best.

With the big names like Gnarls Barkley dropping this past month, and many to come in still a young year, Absolute Value probably won't claim this year's crown, which is fine by Akro; he’s got blueprints to the castle and stockpiles of dynamite. Check this one out.

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