I’ve said this many times, but those who know me, know that music lyrics are a big deal in my opinion.
Lyrics spark influence, give testimony, speak truth, empower communities, educate, and allows listeners to see from the perspective of the artist.
Akoben b.k.a. “Mr. Move Pencil” creates music that exudes all of these things.
Who is Akoben you ask? — He is an up and coming hip hop artist hailing from Troy, Alabama.
And yes, you read it right — I decided to virtually travel to the dirty south to ride the wave of this educated, hip-hop artist who’s on a path to make change in the black community perspective with his vocal art.
Akoben — it means Vigilant in West Africa. He’s a real black man. A black man who’s concerned about real, black community issues and realities we all face; known and unknown; gritty or glamorous. He addresses it. In an interview with Rated Ransom, Akoben shared moments of his music journey and inspiration through vivid, candid storytelling.
— thanks Akoben. You’re a rising star.
Hope you enjoy learning about his life and lessons.
Rated Ransom (RR): Who are some artists that have inspired you to rap?
Akoben: I’m sure I will show my age with this one — OutKast, Bone thugs n Harmony, Wu Tang, Bob Marley, Earth Wind and Fire, Duke Ellington, and Bob James just to name a few. And last but not least and most importantly of all, Queen Mother, My Earth, Kathy Lightfoot.
RR: When did you start your music career?
Akoben: I started at a very young age. My mother was a choir director and assistant band director at Charles Henderson High School. She also hustled [with her] music on the side by playing piano, and she sang for high profile gigs throughout the state and southeast. I played in concert and marching bands from 6th grade through college at Troy University, where I marched in The Sound of The South. I wrote my very first rhymes in the band room at Charles Henderson High School.
RR: Do you feel there is a difference between rap and hip-hop?
Akoben: KRS-One teaches us that rap is something that you do, and Hip Hop is something you live. And that is what I believe.
RR: What’s your music genre brand?
Akoben: We do a southern brand of hip hop. However, ReGG and I are very well rounded students of the game, ourselves, and our culture. We have a very wide lyrical range ensuring we are never confined to any box. But make no mistake, we represent the durty!!
RR: Do you consider your music rap or hip-hop?
Akoben: We are hip hop without question. We are also damned good rappers but we get out here and do the work in our communities.
RR: In the past 10 years, who would you say the hottest mainstream rap artists have been?
Akoben: Great question. I think this one is all about personal taste. For the last 10 years only one artist has remained in my playlist and that is Big KRIT. Not one act has been more consistent and true to themselves — all while still evolving within the game. Keeping up with the sounds and waves that carry the culture. Dude is highly underrated. Much like The Nu! Breed….but we will wake them up soon.
RR: Name some artists across all genres who you’d like to work with?
Akoben: I would love to do a collab with Lizzo and Rihanna. They have the culture’s short hairs right now. And the music they make transcends all demographics. I always wanted to work with Linkin Park (Rest in Power to Chester) — I can’t think of another act that blended hip-hop and rock so effortlessly. I would also like to work with Flying Lotus, The Deftones, John Legend, Damian Marley, Idris Elba, Bone Thugs, Missy, Nas, and Method Man.
RR: Advice for rising artists.
Akoben: My advice would be, get out of your comfort zone. Leave your hometown and go find new faces to [showcase] your music to. Work on your craft daily. Stop focusing on image and clout — and be yourself. Learn as much of the business as you can. And most of all, Keep God First.
RR: Your plans and hope for the community and those who’ve been there from the beginning?
Akoben: My journey has led me to extraordinary places. From hitting stages all over the southeast region to now owning my own recording studio in my city. Growing up here, there weren’t many places to grow a healthy passion for hip-hop. It is and always have been a city catering to wealthy white Dixie culture. My generation of entrepreneurs has set out to change that. I plan on continuing to show the next generation how to empower themselves through music. I hope that the city will finally embrace all of its local talent and help elevate them all to superstar status. Alabama still needs to get out of its own way at times but our musical potential is limitless. When I opened my studio I named it Akoben. The term is West African for Vigilant, and its symbol is the Warhorn. Maybe through the collective noise we make daily, we will finally kick the door in for Alabama. The difference is Akoben plans on staying because we’ve got something to say……#soundthawarhorn
RR: Anticipated Concerts/Performances?
Akoben: We have a major performance in Dothan Alabama at the monthly City Festival called Foster Fest. I also own a recording studio and several of my artists will be joining us.
RR: What are your upcoming projects? What’s next?
Akoben: I am part of the 3x Alabama Music Award Nominated group, Nu! Breed of Alabama. And we have a project dropping in November called “R.A.O.” which means Revolution Aggression Originality. My solo project entitled “For a Limited Time Only” will drop this December. In the meantime, go check out singles from the camp. You know about my hit single “DAILY ROUTINE”- MOVE PENCIL. But also grab my brother-in-rhyme’s blazing track, “DON’T SPEAK” – REGG aka ASANI ASAD. And our group single “2 MANY” – NU! BREED of ALABAMA. All works can be found on all major streaming platforms.
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