Akira The Don
When We Were Young
kira the Don is a renaissance man. He started his career writing really bad music journalism, switched games to produce really bad mixtapes, and (currently) puts on a hernia-inducing live show. It's safe to say Akira the Don, all four foot ten and Kevin Nash haircut of him, is a man who has a painful struggle every day to come up with product that comes even close to “adequate.” I'm not a fan.
Akira first made a name for himself, like any other mediocre UK rapper slanging mixtapes, doing the bog-standard low-level media circles. Hip Hop Connection found Donny proclaiming that we should “all communicate in rhyme,” and let us in on the fact that he adopted the “Don” suffix in recognition of his mastery of the art of freestyle.
A Borat-style send-up of other whiteboy Brit rappers? This was late 2004, the era of Jon the Whiteboy Rapper and Lady Sovereign before she adopted the “supporting star from the latest Max Hardcore epic” make-up and wardrobe, after all. And hip-hop’s a genre ripe for parody, pastiche, and a little gentle kick to the ribs.
If only. Akira the Don is painfully for real, a man more earnest than Jim Varney. His live shows feature backdrops of WAR and TORTURE and INCISIVE CARTOONS OF POLITICAL LEADERS VOMITING POO.
And the music? Well, When We Were Young is Akira's debut album proper and it's not very good. It starts off with (and features throughout) a vocal sample from “The Prisoner,” which is a half-decent (and incredibly lazy) way of pointing out that “This isn't your normal rap record.” The point is further pushed in the form of “Thank You for All the AIDS,” the song he claims got him kicked him off Interscope. “White man went to Africa with rifles and bibles / Came back in the 80s because he's spiteful” dribbles our man over a neutered JVC Force beat. At some point, Akira's comes to the stunning realization that AIDS IS A BAD THING, and proceeds to tell you this with absolutely no humor, wit, or intelligence in a molasses-thick Estuary accent.
It’s hard to know what to hate most about this Welsh-bred rapper’s long player. Is it the fact that “Liverpool” is the kind of song made by the one person remaining on this planet who didn't take their copy of Odelay to the CD exchange in 1999? Or is it that Akira has the worst rap flow since Ron Killings? Nah, it’s that Akira The Don has gained some shred of notoriety by releasing a rap record worse than Blood Money in 2006. Hats off, Don. You earned it.
Reviewed by: Dom Passantino
Reviewed on: 2006-12-06