What up OK-Tho and Hip-Hop community? Today I have the honor of bringing you an in depth interview with one half of The Perceptionists, Boston's own Akrobatik.
OK-Tho - So Akro, my first question is how did you got into Hip-Hop? What was your first introduction to the culture and your first influences?
Ak - Well, I was born right around the time that hip-hop actually began, so my Mom had some of the earliest dope records on vinyl right in the house. Grand Master Flash, Sugar Hill Gang. I think that hip-hop discovered me before I even knew what it was. All the older kids were constantly bumpin' all these amazing sounds everywhere I went, and it just really got my curiosity going. Once I was old enough to get my hands on tapes, and found some underground radio shows once I was a teen it was a wrap!
OK-Tho - How'd you get your foot in the door as an artist?
Ak - College radio and a strong local following. The shows that I did at The Middle East in Cambridge is where I really made a name for myself. I opened up for everyone from Jeru the Damaga to Eminem on that stage. A few years of that and the pedigree start to spread nationally, and eventually worldwide.
OK-Tho - I love the new perceptionists album Resolution, what inspired you and Mr. Lif to come together to make another album?
Ak - Thanks so much. The project is very important to me, and musically I think it's my favorite release for the group and for myself. Lif and I have always been friends and always rhymed together. We had been talking about coming back together to do more projects for years, but until now had kept it to a song here and there. We both believe that things should just happen when it feels right, and I'm glad the time has finally come for us to reunite as the Perceptionists. I think it's safe to expect more from us in the near future, too.
OK-Tho - Why was DJ Fakts One not on the new album?
Ak - Fakts no longer does music full-time. Every once in a while he will share something new he's been working on, and we still make tracks together occasionally. He produced on each of Lif and my last solo albums. "Mission Accomplished", from Lif's 2016 MMG album Don't Look Down, features all three of us throwin' down.
OK-Tho - How did the perceptionists come together?
Ak - Fakts had a radio show at Emerson College and Papa D! (Owner of Brick Records) had a studio at the time and Lif and I would constantly run into each other at either of those spots. Eventually that and the fact that we had so many mutual friends lead to us becoming closer, and rhyming together seemed imminent from the beginning.
OK-Tho - How do you feel about the current state of the Hip-Hop scene, especially in Massachusetts?
Ak - I just try to observe, adapt, and prosper. See things just as they are and work with it. It seems that the social media era has created an environment where quantity outweighs quality, just based on the sheer number of music that is always being released and the growing amounts of people who are making music and want to be heard. That being said, there is enough music out there to satisfy anyone who is looking for anything, allowing music lovers the ability to literally tune out what they are not looking for while basking in the type of sounds they love. Sophisticated listeners will always grow with the artists they support and seek out fresh new sounds as their lives progress and evolve. As far as the scene in Massachusetts, there are so many dope young artists (check out Dutch Rebelle, Kyle Bent, Illevan, Lotus Taylor, and Millyz to name just a few), and almost all of the guys that were putting out records when at the time when I debuted (7L & Esoteric with Czarface, Edo G., Slaine and Termanology, Reks, Krumbsnatcha, Lif of course, and many more) are still out there gettin' busy as well, so it's dope!
OK-Tho - Who are some of your all-time favorite MC's, producers and deejays? And who are some of your favorite today?
Ak - My all-time favorite MCs are guys like KRS One, Chuck D., Black Thought, Q-Tip, Andre, Busta, Common, Redman, Pharaohe Monch, Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J, Nas... I could name more but those are the first names to come to mind in terms of all-time favorites. I always loved beats by Premo of course, as well as Dilla, Q-Tip, Pete Rock, Diamond D... As far as now, I really love what all those same guys are still doing. I've recently realized how incredible MF Doom is, and I also love El-P's recent production work with RTJ. DJ Lord of Public Enemy/Prophets of Rage, DJ Scratch of EPMD, and DJ Q-Bert are some of the illest DJs today and forever to me. As far as newer MCs, I try not to get too hyped on people too soon, but Kendrick Lamar is dope and has been holding it down for a minute. I think King Los out of Baltimore is real dope too.
OK-Tho - Are there any MC's producers and deejays you haven't worked with that you like to work with?
Ak - Anyone I mentioned above!
OK-Tho - Where does the group go from here now that resolution is shaking the streets?
Ak - I sincerely hope that what we are doing snowballs into the type of run that we are currently seeing from other dope duos like Run The Jewels and Czarface. A Tribe Called Quest's last album really inspired us to get in the lab more, and to hang out more, and get as much enjoyment out of these blessings as possible.
OK-Tho - What's next for you as a solo artist?
Ak - I've got a couple of projects I'm working on that were put on the back burner when the opportunity to do Resolution came about. My main focus for now is on the group, but I think that it's safe to say those solo project will probably take the form of EPs that will be released between Perceptionists releases. There is definitely more to come, and I plan to continue to take chances and evolve my sound.
OK-Tho - Do you feel Massachusetts Hip-Hop is overlooked given that guys like Guru, Edo.G, etc come out of the state?
Ak - Nah. Massachusetts is a small market. Considering the number of urban residents there are in Boston compared to so many other larger cities, I think that a pretty good amount of recognition has come to our city. And there will be plenty more. It is, however, a little different now, because of the fact that so much music is discovered online and not out in the natural world. So, Boston's proximity to the birthplace of hip-hop isn't as prominent a factor as it once was. You can be anywhere and wrangle in an audience now.
OK-Tho - Any crazy solo artist or perceptionists stories that you'd be down to share with the community?
Ak - Well, there's always the story about the time Lif and I did our "Road to the Super Bowl" tour in 2008 leading up to us spending our tour money on going to the Super Bowl in Arizona to watch the Pats lose to the Giants and go 18-1. When I got home from that I was a guest on DJ Premier's "Live From Headqcourterz" show, and every time he asked me a question, he would interrupt my answer with play-by-play of the Giants pulling of the amazing win at the Super Bowl. Still stings. Only thing I can take from it is the Patriots have won 2 rings since, Eli is now a backup, and the Giants are trash.
OK-Tho - Lastly, any advice to aspiring artists?
Ak - Make music because you love it, and make the culture better because you are a part of it!
OK-Tho - That's what it is. Thank you for taking the time to do this Sir.
Ak - Salute.