Speaking with Gabriel Akon, I knew instantly I was with an artist on the precipice of actual greatness.
The Adelaide-based rapper has been making waves through much of this year. His work as DyspOra and as a label head of independent hip hop collective Playback808 set Akon’s course early and the industry is beginning to notice.
Moving to Australia with his family 13 years ago after fleeing conflict in South Sudan and living in a refugee camp in Kenya, Akon’s struggle has definitely been the realest, but in surviving and getting through, his ethic when it comes to rising above and pushing forward has influenced his music.
“I loved music, but I probably would have spent my life – all things considered – being a doctor or a lawyer.” he admits.
“I loved music but not to the point where I was like, ‘I’m going to do this for 10, 20 years,’ until I started finding out about the Fela Kutis, about the Bob Marleys. It really attracted me. I coined this term – ‘Sonic Activism’ – seeking purpose through the music and reaching people. That’s what I’ve been really practicing to aim for and get to.”
Passionately opinionated when it comes to the progression of the Australian hip hop scene, Akon isn’t content to wait for long-standing perceptions and constructs to change for him.
His plans for the rest of this year?
“Solidifying ourselves as an independent label, we’re dead serious about this! We just put out E L K‘s single on to Spotify, I’ve got one dropping at the end of this month. I’ll have an official single out and commercially selling after seven years of giving out free music!”
“I know this might not be Australian hip hop as hip hop in Australia but either get used to it or the rest of the world will leave us behind.”