Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Shakespeare Inspires Me Says Rapper Brother of Ms Dynamite; Well-Taught: Akala, Brother of Ms Dynamite, Has Loved Shakespeare since School

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Shakespeare Inspires Me Says Rapper Brother of Ms Dynamite; Well-Taught: Akala, Brother of Ms Dynamite, Has Loved Shakespeare since School

Article excerpt

Byline: LOUISE JURY

IT'S a Shakespearean quiz for the hip-hop generation. How many playtitles can you spot in just one track? Rapper Akala, 24, name-checks the titlesof 27 of the Bard's works in his new single, Comedy Tragedy Historyitself a reference to Polonius's speech on actors in Hamlet.

Akala, who grew up in Kentish Town and won a Mobo award with his debut album,is a known fan of the playwright and was dubbed the black Shakespeare by someDJs after an early single named in his muse's honour.

His latest track began as a challenge from a DJ on Radio 1 Extra. He gave Akalareal name Kingsley Daley15 minutes to produce a freestyle rap incorporating the names of all the playsbar the variations on the histories.

When Akala's business partner and producer, Rez, heard the result, he insistedit must be on the artist's next album.

Two verses play on some of Shakespeare's most famous quotes with wordplay suchas "call it urban, call it street/A rose by any other name, smell just assweet".

Akala said: "There are many fantastic English poets and playwrights andgeniuses of English literature but Shakespeare is the major name on thestationery.

"A lot of people in art have a lot of hype but with Shakespeare it's justified.

The way one man shaped language in his works and impacted culture isincredible." He has loved the Bard's work since attending Acland Burghleysecondary school in Tufnell Park with his sister and fellow rapper, MsDynamite.

Akala said: "I appreciated it even then but felt the way Shakespeare isdelivered to young children especially is really rubbish. He is perceived ashighbrow and unobtainable but the audience for the Globe had commoners in thepit as well as the upper classes partying in the circle." The rapper is workingwith Big Wheel, a theatre company that specialises in education, to developworkshops about Shakespeare for young people and has backing from the ArtsCouncil. …

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