Akala, Jamie Broad: Guild of Students Cellar Bar, Liverpool

Akala at the Cellar Bar

Akala at the Cellar Bar

Finding the new venue perfect for the gig, Getintothis’ Zach Jones reports with the ultimate form of rebellion. 

Liverpool’s Guild of Students have quiet undeniably been one of the biggest forces in Liverpool’s music scene, bringing some of the most anticipated artists to the forefront of the cities nightlife and right on the doorstep of Liverpool’s student population. Whether it’s Stereophonics or Youmeatsix, LGoS know how to fill venues, and it’s normally with large names.

Tonight however is the test, one of the UK’s biggest influences in hip-hop descends on a new venue, and one with a change of pace. The Cellar Bar, is exactly that. A winding labyrinth giving away to a fluorescent dimly lit tunnel, with not light at the end of it, but a sound system to rival any in the city. It perfectly combines quality sound, quality staff and a perfect club layout with the ability to remain intimate and tightly packed. 

So first up is the charismatic Jamie Broad, who other than having a continued concerned for “how everybody is doing tonight” became the only rapper in the history of Earth to reference “those two alien things you rub together to get them pregnant” in verse. All in all the set is tight and lyrically creative. There’s been obvious attempts to step outside the mainstreams of UK hip-hop, a scene which has been massively dominated by the Grime movement of the past ten years or so. Broad is incredibly self aware, and knows that hollow threats and empty promises won’t do anything for him. Instead conducting himself with self-confidence but not cockiness.

Simply just vocals and an ipod full of backing tracks is the hardest set to pull off. When there’s no one else on stage to vibe off, you’re left hoping to be well perceived by the crowd for their energy. However a bit of scouse wit and charm keep the youngster’s head above water and by the end the crowd are eating out of his palm. To see Mr Broad with a full live band would something to give everyone else in the city a run for their money. Watch this space.

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Akala though is a master at work. Tonight he is a three piece, DJ, drums and vocals. Melody, energy and creativity.

It’s always a thrill to see home grown artists shine through, whether it is the lyrical relevance or simply something in their character, UK hip-hop always hits home with these crowds. As Akala tears through song after song forged in the depression of austerity England, the disillusion so felt by those hit hardest hammers through the sound system with a solid resonance.

He may be that perfect combination of smooth and rhythmic enough to entice your ear, and lyrically creative enough to entice your mind. As people sing and shout along, these are not just political rants but incredibly well crafted compositions. Something that only years of practice on practice on practice can earn you.

The final conclusion you can take is in world so painted as unstable, where the tabloids believe we live on a knife edge and the politicians we voted for hold it, the ultimate form of rebellion is to sing, shout and rap songs while we dance the dark nights away. For one night this year, none of the corporate establishment where invited and perhaps for their own good. A giant middle finger from Akala was raised to anyone who wants to stand in the way of equality, and we stepped closer to that goal.

Where Akala may not be a household name, when history looks back at artists who brought around social change, Akala will be included in that book and the name will be circled.

Pictures by Getintothis’ John Johnson