On Monday night Manchester was the scene of a crime. It was a crime committed, as the tabloids would always tell you most are, by a young(ish) Black Man, the son of one of those immigrants allowed to come to England decades ago. It was a serious crime, a crime against the state….
If, that is, by “state” we mean the blood-thirsty, looting empire-in-tatters that is the British State, (and pretty much every other state is or would be, given the opportunity.) It was a crime against compliance, a crime against complacency.
It wasn’t a crime against music and thought, it was a crime for them. It was committed by Akala, who gave a blistering set at Gorilla.
So much would be so unexpected to anyone who (unlike me) has followed the man’s career over the last ten years (all of the grime I’ve ever encountered has been before I left the house). Akala knows what he can do with words and a microphone, and he did them. Passion, mimicry, rhythm – all deployed with far more precision than the fucking bombs the British state is itching to drop on a bunch of people like you, me, your friends and acquaintances in Syria. But I digress.
So much so easy. But now for the stunt blogging part of the programme. Who did Akala remind me of? He reminded me of… wait for it…. wait for it…. Pink.
- There’s the acute self-awareness, willingness to name and own their own hypocrisies and insecurities. (e.g. Leave me alone/I’m Lonely and Find Your Enemy).
- There’s the understanding that the music industry wants you in a small and clearly labelled box, (as everyone knows), and the willingness, luck and ability to, if not play the game by their own rules, then to bend them outashape.
- There’s the general level of live performance (I’ve not seen her, more’s the pity) – Akala has her self-assurance; (according to his wikipedia entry he had a promising football career cut short by injury. Toe marbles’ loss is music and politics’ gain, I’d say.)
- There’s the ability to name some of the enemies (Akala seems more willing to be just blunt about it, though Pink’s “Dear Mr President” probably got her removed from the Bush family’s Christmas card list).
- There’s the real name/stage name thing (this is common of course). Pink is Alecia Moore, with the teenage nickname sticking. Akala, which is a Buddhist term for “immovable”.
- There’s the obsession with the causes and consequences of violence (I was struck recently by just how many of Pink’s videos involve her in physical conflict with people, including herself.) See here.
There are differences of course – although both are cashed up in the “erotic capital” department (as in, smoking hot), Pink’s videos are, necessarily, a lot slicker (I shudder to think their budgets).
Also, I’m going to be able to have Pink as my music-to-do-grunt-PhD-work by. Akala, not so much. I defy anyone to cut and paste word documents while vaguely humming along to “Murder runs the globe”…