Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Retarded Gene-Yis: An Interview with Aki Kharmicel

Akbar Sun

The Homie Alex has once again blessed us with an incredible and insightful interview, this time with San Diego's Aki Kharmicel.

    Aki Kharmicel (aka Kennuf Akbar, Akbar Sun, etc.) is the definition of a true artist. His music is raw, unfiltered and uncompromising. His voice, rhyme patterns and beats sound like nobody else. He brings his MPC with him wherever he travels and leaves it plugged in and turned on whenever he’s at home. Aki’s first release came in ’97, a tape called Saleems Self Cypher, and a plethora of albums followed, under several different monikers and covering a wide range of styles and subject matter. I was fortunate enough to get to speak with the San Diego emcee/producer about his early years, spirituality, racism, the rap scene in Diego, and a few of his many releases, as well as his plans for the future.

How did you first fall in love with hip-hop? What were some of your early influences?

    This might be a strange answer, but to be honest with you, one of my first influences with hip-hop was hearing my parents listening to Prince, and I say that because, as I get older and I get more in depth into what I do, and kind of just take a constant look at my influences, I see how that’s probably one of my biggest influences as far as what I do. To me, lookin’ at what Prince did back in his heyday – first of all, he was one of the artists that popularized the use of that drum machine called the LM-1, or the Linn Drum, which was actually the precursor to the MPC2000.  A lot of people may not know that, but it’s the truth. The “1999” song had those famous drums on it, which was from the LM-1. A lot of the different aliases that he used on production credits, for stuff that he produced, that’s something that I do a lot, as you may know. But if you want more specific hip-hop influence, when I first started buying records and tapes on my own, some of the earliest hip-hop stuff that I was collectin’ was stuff like N.W.A., like Houston, Texas rap like Geto Boys, Scarface, all that Rap-A-Lot stuff, and of course artists like Wu-Tang, Digable Planets, De La Soul, etc. So, I guess, you could say I have a pretty wide array of influences.

I read that you first learned to use a sampler in college. Can you break down how you first learned to make beats?

    Yup. Actually, the first time that I actually constructed - before I started using machines and stuff – ‘cause, I mean, I’m pretty, I’m kinda semi-old school, not like “Planet Rock” type old school. I wasn’t collecting records in the early 80s or whatever, but old school like I had a record player and tape recorder, connected. I had one of those type of joints. So, even as a youngster I would loop samples with the record player. And there used to be this older gentlemen, a lady friend’s pops, actually had an [Ensoniq] ASR-10. This was probably ’93, ’94 maybe? But when I actually got my own experience using the equipment myself, yeah, it was actually a community college called Mesa College. And they had an Emax 2. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Emax, but it’s a keyboard sampler, like the ASR-10. It was one of the earlier keyboard samplers, basically. Like the ASR-10, but a lot older.

Yeah, it sounds like you were using a keyboard sampler in a lot of your music.

    Yeah, a lot of my earlier stuff. Either I made beats on that Emax, or the Ensoniq EPS, which was one of the first pieces of equipment I purchased. That and the SP-202. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the 202, you might be familiar with the 303. The SP-202, Dr. Sample, the 202 was the original one. That was actually the first piece of equipment I bought with my own money, the SP-202. And then I got the EPS a year or so after that. And that was like, I wanna say late ’97, early ’98, something like that.

So would that’ve been around the time you recorded the Saleems Self Cypher tape?

    I recorded the tape in early ’97, like winter/spring of ’97.

And that was released under the name Nocturnal Scientists. Was that just you and Sumach, or were there other people in the group at the time?

    The Nocturnal Scientists, when we came up with that crew, there were basically like five to six of us, or so, and there were a few others that were kinda with our little click, basically. But the nucleus of it was me, Sumach, this cat named Kito, Fubar, a female emcee by the name of Judah and this other cat that went by GreenLeaf aka Marcus. And my boy Fubar was like one of the original members. We kinda came up with that, me and him. When me, ‘Mach, Kito, and GreenLeaf/Marcus, we started kickin’ it, you know what I mean, I kind of brought them into my little fold, if you will. I would say this is ’94, ’95, something like that. I was like the only one, at the time, that was making my own beats. I’m actually a little older than those cats. You see me and ‘Mach and you might think I’m the younger of the two, but I’m actually older than that cat, you know what I’m sayin’?

    The tape though, when I recorded that, Sumach wasn’t on that particular album. It was just mainly me, Fubar was on a couple of tracks, and I had a couple singers on there, singin’ the hooks – a couple of no namers. But when I recorded that album, Saleems Self Cypher, I released it as a group project ‘cause I’m kind of community minded. I was brought up that way. So I thought I was the first one to drop out of the click, so I thought put Nocturnal Scientists out. But cats kinda moved on [laughs]. It was like ’97, cats were doing their own thing. Sumach started kicking it more with Orko and them cats, Masters of the Universe, and I just went on and focused on my own shit, basically.

So after that you dropped the …Sun album, as Akbar. Is that right?

    Exactly. And just to give you a little bit of history, that was probably the only time I took a little hiatus from music. Between the Nocturnal Scientist album, between then and working on the …Sun album, I took about a little less than a year hiatus, for spiritual reasons. At the time, one of the cats that I was still dealin’ with at that time was this cat named Marcus. He was the only cat I was still kind of dealing with. I was dealing with that brother and we were both kind of going through a spiritual cleansing, whatever you wanna call it, and I was practicing, coming into the fold of Islam and practicing that. And my man, he was kind of practicing more of the, I guess you could say, the Sunni Islam, at that time, and I was more studying the Nation, at that time, the so-called 5%, NOI, etc. I don’t really get too hung up on religious sects and parties, you know, like denominations, you know what I mean? So, I was still going to the mosque and getting into debates with cats at the mosque because I was studying the Nation’s teachings.

    Long story short, with my man, in some circles in the Muslim community, they believe that music is Haram, it’s against God to do music. And he kinda had me spooked a bit. I mean, I’m a pretty practical and logical person, so we would debate back and forth and usually, I guess, my debates would kind of… win [laughs]. But nonetheless, the seed was planted in my head that bad things would happen. I started thinking, “Maybe music is bad.” So, I gave it up after I dropped that Saleems Self Cypher tape. But I started having nightmares and shit. Within that time, I basically went cold turkey, like no recording, no music, nothing. I was just beatboxing, recording myself beatboxing and shit. When you make music, you’re always gonna communicate musically in some kinda way. I was thinking about doing an all beatbox album on some Rhazel shit. But I didn’t mess with no music.

    So, anyways, I fell back on the music but I started having these dreams. I would have dreams about fools rockin’ my steez and shit, like making my kind of beats. ‘Cause let me tell you something, back in ’94, ’95, nobody was making beats off of Bollywood movies and shit like that. I stumbled on that shit by accident in ’95, you know what I mean? I don’t really recall anybody, maybe Rakim on Paid in Full (“Paid in Full” Seven Minutes of Madness Coldcut Remix). That wasn’t really Bollywood, though, but probably the closest along those lines. Anyways, I was having these dreams, but long story short, my man Marcus, he went to Africa. After he bounced, he kinda left me hangin’. He played me to the left like, “Oh, this brother, he ain’t seen me enough. So I’m cool off this cat.” But after that cat left - I think ‘Mach was in the Bay Area at the time - I was just out here dolo, like one deep. I started thinkin’, “This is kinda bullshit. This is what I do. This is how I express myself. I can use this for positive, you know?” So, that’s when, he left, and probably within a couple of months, I bought that 202 and started making beats again. That was probably late-’97, October, Novemberish. And that following year, that’s when I enrolled back in Mesa College and started recording the Akbar Sun album and also the Liquid Sunshine album. Really, the Akbar Sun, the Liquid Sunshine project, the Brazier Than Batman Lewis stuff, I recorded most of those tracks between ’98 and ‘99. That’s essentially three albums, you know what I mean? That’s how backed up I was, staying away from music that long. I was in the lab. You also gotta keep in mind that I wasn’t really running with anybody either. Just like one deep. I didn’t have a girlfriend either, at the time, none of that. Straight up loner shit, you know what I mean? And I used that opportunity to lab out. Just using that opportunity and time to record.

I read an interview with Sumach where he talked about how he experienced a lot of racism growing up, especially in the Gaslamp District. Did you have similar experiences?

    I mean, most definitely. Let me tell you something, man. Just growing up in the 70s, or 80s, right at the cusp of the 70s movement, our Nation was still experiencing a lot of that racism. There was a time when Diego was a little more blacker, but over the years the black population just kind of dissipated. Now, it’s very minimal today but at least in the 90s, we had a thicker community. But racism in school, I dealt with a lot of that in the school system. And, of course, in my adulthood, when you get into your late teens/early twenties, and you experience stuff like that. I mean, I experienced some of the most racist experiences in the workforce. Once I started entering into the workforce, that’s when I experienced a whole lot of racism. But it’s different now because when you’re in a particular part of town for so long, they really can’t fade you. They really can’t fade me, whether it’s the workforce, or going out and about ‘cause now it’s young cats patrolling the streets and they see an O.G., they don’t really bother you, I guess.

    So, yeah, definitely, dealing with that. I would even say – and maybe this is part of the reason why people like me aren’t readily spoken of within San Diego, because even within the scene, there’s probably a certain amount of that racism. And racism isn’t the same as being prejudice, just to clarify certain things to whoever may read this article. We all have pre-judgments, but racism is an institution that’s implemented, that shows that the people that’s in control, in power, act unfairly to people who are the minority. So, even within the scene, seeing that you’re the minority, and feeling like, “Ok, well, I don’t really get that respect.” I mean, even today, lack of respect has more to do with just egos than race, but these people that are in the scene, if their parents are racist, that very well may have an effect on them too. I’m just sayin’ it’s possible. Their actions will show more than their words. Racism has evolved over the years. It’s not as overt as it was in the 60s. But when it comes to getting a job and they don’t hire certain people, you don’t see any people of African descent in the workforce, you gotta wonder, is it because they’re racist? Maybe. They might not have said it. It seems like it. ‘Cause I know plenty of brothers trying to get a job. All you gotta do is just look.

    But I’m not gonna sit here and holler [about] that. I mean, evidently, and I’m not trying to charge at anybody, but I’m just trying to narrate to you, in short, situations that someone in my position might encounter from time to time. I know, in general, the scene is a little bit ass-backwards. You go to a Wu-Tang concert and they don’t have the right kind of people opening up for these artists. Like local talents opening up for an act like Wu-Tang. I mean, you think that, “Let’s show some of the rawest San Diego talent. Let’s not put some corny, wanna-be G-funk rappers opening up for a group like Wu-Tang.” You dig what I’m saying?

Well, look at a guy like Delon Deville. How is he not getting more attention?

    That’s a very good question. Delon Deville, in my personal opinion, is a very good artist. And I’m gonna give you a little bit of San Diego history and I hope whoever reads this article in San Diego doesn’t take this the wrong way, but I just wanna paint a picture. Now, Delon Deville came from a crew called D.N.A., Devil Needs an Afro – he was one of three of them - it was him, a cat called Kontroversial and a cat called Matrix aka Odessa Kane. Now I’m just gonna be honest. I think Odessa Kane is dope, but I don’t really see Delon Deville getting any kind of play or respect from these cats in Diego. And granted, he may have had his experiences where he can’t be active in the scene, but talent is talent, you dig what I’m sayin’? And you shouldn’t have to fight an uphill battle to prove to people or to get any level of support from people in the San Diego scene if people get the recognition based off of talent.

    Now, I know some cats – I’m not gonna say no names – they used to be a group. They kinda broke up – some Asian kids, right? Now, I’ve got close with a lot of Asian cats, but let’s keep it real. If you’re an artist who doesn’t come within the community - because early San Diego hip-hop, a lot of it kind of evolved in a place we call South East San Diego, which is a predominantly black part of town. Even today, that’s where I live at today, Encanto, which is a part of South East San Diego. And today, a lot of the cats in this part of town aren’t as interested in hip-hop, I guess [laughs]. That’s a whole ‘nother story. But if you’re an artist and you try to create your own scene, outside of the overall hip-hop culture - in other words, you’re only focusing on your own particular demographic – that’s not really fair. Then it’s a numbers game. You just gotta pull your ethnic identity card and you automatically get support, just because you just happen to be in that particular ethnic demographic. So, in other words, talent don’t have absolutely nothin’ to do with it. It’s a numbers game. “We’re gonna support this guy because he looks like us” [laughs]. Not because they’re dope, necessarily. And I’m not trying to take anything away from any artist in San Diego. There’s plenty of talent in San Diego. And it’s not all about race, it’s a dick-riding culture as well, you know what I mean?

Well, it seems like it’s almost a case of who’s the better business man, not who’s the better artist. Like maybe that artist doesn’t have the best business sense but there’s no support structure for that artist. Because it’s all about the music at the end of the day, right?

    Maybe it’s that too, but I don’t really see a lot of these cats making a whole lotta money, so I can’t really say business because there’s no money involved, I mean…

I guess it’s more who’s the better promoter then. Who’s able to promote and make better connections, rather than the quality of the music, itself.

    Yeah, but you know what? There’s been times I’ve met people, like, I was at a show and I asked one of my peoples, “Hey, how do I get booked for one of these gigs here?” And he’s like, “Oh, you need to talk to this cat, so and so.” So I reasoned with the dude, try to connect with the cat, but he ain’t trying to hear me. He’s unfamiliar with me on the scene, you know what I mean? I think I’ve made some mark within the San Diego scene, by crafting my own genre or style in hip-hop, even my influence on artists in San Diego - whether they admit it or not is beside the point. But they don’t know. That’s fine. But I’m like, “Yo, I wanna get in on some of these gigs.” Show him some of my videos, some of my stats, etc., who I’m dealin’ with. But they willfully ignore me to put on the people that they’re already good with. And quite frankly, it looks like a demographic thing. I hate to say it, but that’s what it looks like to me. I’ve studied culture, classism, racism, how it works. I mean c’mon, let’s keep it real. We can’t keep a closed mouth on this forever. That’s how problems don’t get resolved. That’s what they’re trying to do in South Africa. “Oh, let’s just sweep it under the rug.” These people are being oppressed. They were there before the white Africans, but yet they’re not allowed the same amount respect or equal opportunity simply because they’re black.

Getting back to your music, were Shock of the Hour and Handle with Prayer recorded at the same time?

    What happened, when I was recording Brazier Than Batman Lewis - it’s called Brazier Than Batman Lewis Part III Vol. 1 because, back in the day, before, I used to have these mixtapes that I called that. It was just a mix of some beats that I made and some samples and maybe some freestyles and stuff. And Part II was specifically a beat tape that I really just made for myself and my friends, stuff for us to freestyle over. So, that’s why I called it Part III. And it’s Vol. 1 and 2 because when I was working on that, I didn’t really intend for it to be a two part album, but I recorded so many songs I had to split it up. That’s the reason why it’s called Vol. 1 and 2

    So yeah, pretty much all those songs were recorded within the same time frame, ’98, ’99, between those two years and maybe like one track that I recorded, “All Ovr (the City)”, I actually recorded that song in like early 2000, basically on a 4-track recorder at the pad. I threw it on Vol. 1 ‘cause I really liked the song, you know what I mean? Originally I used that song for a cat named Parker Edison. He was doing a tape and wanted me to contribute. I had laced him with a couple of beats but he wanted me to put a song on there. The song that I put on there was the “All Ovr (the City)” song. I dunno how many tapes, or whatever, he released of that. But I ended up using it for the Brazier Than Batman Lewis album.

I’m not gonna touch on all your albums because we’ll be here all night, but on your album The Enemy, under the alias Ken/Off!, you worked with Orko Eloheim. Was that the first time you’d worked with Orko, and what was it like working with him?

    Yeah, The Enemy was done around 2006, around the time I got this new MPC that I have, 2000XL. And actually, Orko was one of the guys who helped me learn how to use the MPC when I first started, because he knew how to use it. And The Most High just brought us together. That was a time in his life where he was trying to focus more on family-oriented stuff. We just kind of related on that family tip, as far as hanging out. We were actually gonna release a project together, me and Orko. We had done some beats together. I shot him some beats. He shot me some beats. But we were never able to make that stick because sometimes people are in their circles. I’m in this circle, you’re in this circle. He actually ended up moving into these apartments I was living in. We recorded that song right in his apartment. He had a lab set up there. We were just around each other more, so we just built on it. You know, when two artists get together, the communication, it’s gonna be artistic. Workin’ with him? It was cool. It wasn’t difficult to do tracks with him. I’d like to say I’m an easy artist to work with. I can pretty much adjust my flavour with other people’s flavour. I can get on different topics, etc. It was a good experience, building with him, it was good.

After that, you recorded the Lonely Phantoms project. Who is DJ Showkraw?

    I dunno if you’re familiar with the Kilowattz and the Skrapez and them. He’s like the Jarobi of their group. His sound was a little different than the other cats in that group’s sound. Maybe that’s what kinda interested me. I kinda gravitate towards the odd balls, you know? The square pegs, ya dig? I actually met him at ‘Mach’s pad. He showed me some beats. I figure if a dude got some beats and he shoots me some beats, let’s not just do one track, let’s do a little collab. So we just kept recording and decided to call that shit Lonely Phantoms.

You called yourself Oggie Clog on that one. Has that ever been a problem, where people aren’t aware you’ve dropped a new project because it’s under a different name?

    Is it a problem? I don’t know. It might be a problem for those who are trying to cop all my shit and they don’t know. I don’t put too much thought into it. I just do it. If people like my shit enough, they’ll find out about it. That’s how I think about it. Like, how I approach music, it’s kinda just like an artist, almost as a painter with sounds and I don’t always feel like – I’m just like that. I mean, for me spittin’ over the Lonely Phantoms, it represents a different side. A lot of these albums, I do them like stories. They don’t necessarily represent me and my personal experiences, literally. It’s more done in a story format. Oggie Clog is like a spinoff of Aki Khalaq. I don’t wanna go into the whole backstory. Another time we’ll go into that. It’s just what I do [laughs].

Kennuf Akbar verses Amir-ikk(k)a the Great! was released in 2009, but were those tracks recorded earlier?

    The Amir-ikk(k)a album was mostly recorded in like 2000 except for "TheThieves" vocals and "Kontra" vocals that I had recorded a little later, I think in '08.

I love how a lot of your beats have that 8-bit sound, reminiscent of the NES. Were those sounds a big influence on you, growing up in the 80s?

    Yeah, definitely. I mean, me, as a producer, I always, even as a kid, experienced reality through sound and through music, so I’m constantly thinking of music. So when I’m playing a videogame, even as a kid, I’m thinkin’ of the music. So, once I started makin’ beats, I would start thinkin’ back, like, “What can I make a beat off of?” Then I’d be thinkin’, “Oh, this videogame has a dope sample, or this record, or this movie, or whatever it is.” Anything can become a beat, for me, know you? So, definitely like Nintendo, the first NES, Sega Genesis, but I would say especially the first Nintendo ‘cause whoever was doing the music to that, and the bass lines and stuff on that, really dope, man.

Yeah, when you think of how limited they were and yet they created these masterpieces that people still think of today.


I’ve heard you shout out a crew called BeetFreeks. Who is that made up of?

    BeetFreeks was a beat collective project with Kito because we had made some beats together, but we haven't released that project yet.

Can you break down how you came up with the Aki Kharmicel persona and what he’s all about?

    It’s kinda funny because a lot of the time these characters are in the back of your dome and it just takes the right momentum or experience to bring that particular side of you out. I started making those Aki Kharmicel beats around 2007-2008. Whenever I travel, I take my beat machine. Normally, it’d be the MPC – it’s just the easiest thing to carry. Now, it seems like the MPC and my 404. But I would take my machine back east, and one of my deceased late-uncles, he left behind a bunch of 45s at my aunt’s house. And I always used to ask him about those records but he never wanted to plug me with them records. But when he left ‘em behind, I was just going through them 45s and that’s how that sound kinda first started, the beats. Then going to New York, and taking those 45s with me. Like, a lot of people go to places they’ve never been to and take pictures. For me, I always think of, “That’s the first beat I made when I went to New York.”

    So, that’s kinda how the Aki Kharmicel experience started. I would always go to Maryland and Virginia. That’s like my home away from home. But that particular year, there had been previous times where we wanted to go to New York and that particular year, me and my lady went to New York. The first two songs on that album are the first two beats I made the first time I ever when to New York. So, all those beats on that album I made back east. That may seem trivial to some people, but just to give you a little history on that particular album. 

    The whole premise of that character, he travels through time. Kinda on some Back to the Future type shit, you know what I mean? It’s kinda like Back to the Future with music. I always liked Back to the Future, so maybe that’s where that came from [laughs]. For me, doing albums, I’ve always kinda done albums like it’s a movie and doing the Aki Kharmicel project, and being the embodiment of this character, ‘cause Aki Kharmicel has a particular sound that’s kinda different from my other projects. So, I just approached it and it all started coming together, so I decided, “Okay, I’m Aki Kharmicel.” I didn’t really tell anybody, I just did it. People who really support me, they started seeing the stickers and they were like, “Oh, okay. That’s Kennuf.” But Aki Kharmicel is one of the main characters that I’m using currently. But there’s other projects that I’m recording too. I’m working on a project that’s the unofficial sequel to Akbar Sun, called Film. So that’s bringin’ that whole character and that whole vibe back. The Akbar Sun vibe. I’m actually gonna start rockin’ that as a rap name, Akbar Sun.

So the AAAAk album you made a while back, is that an Aki Kharmicel album or is that Kennuf Abkar?

    It’s kinda neither. I guess you would liken it more to... it’s almost like The Enemy mixed with Akbar Sun. It’s more aggressive than the Akbar Sun shit. Akbar Sun is more laid back, slower. AAAAk’s more aggressive, more upbeat. People like MF DOOM do stuff like this, sometimes you don’t wanna put your face on this joint. I just wanna put this out and murder niggaz real quick, for lack of better words, ya dig? So it’s supposed to be like a hip-hop horror movie. He’s just killin’ fools, left and right. That’s why there’s screams in it and stuff like that. It’s like the death of your favourite rapper/producer. I’m killin’ ‘em on the beats and on the raps. It’s kinda like a horror movie for whack cats in the scene. That’s kinda the whole approach. So I didn’t really use my name, I just put it out there, like Ak, like okay, you kinda know it’s me but you’re gonna have to cop it and trust your instinct that it’s dope.

What are your plans for the future? What projects can people expect next?

    Lately, I mean I’ve been recording so much stuff, it’s really almost too much to say specifically. It’s a whole lotta stuff they can look forward to hearing. I’d say one of the projects they can expect to hear soon is a project called Aki Khalaq and the Blak Prints featuring Aki Kharmicel. It’s kinda like Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass but it’s a little rawer and a bit edgier than Harold Melvin. A lot of people don’t study that old soul, like how those cats projected themselves, even Ohio Players and stuff like that. It was almost the equivalent of what would be considered gangster rap today, because the gangsters of that day were bumpin’ that shit. It’s kinda like the Aki version of that. It’s almost like, sonically, you can kinda compare it to the Aki Kharmicel sound, that soulful vibe. The first album we’re gonna release under that name is Natural Law of Attraction.

    As far as creatively speaking, I’m the kind of person, as an artist, I’ll basically allow my environment or experiences – how I feel or where I’m at – that has a lot of influence on what my music is gonna sound like. Like, for instance, when I did the …Sun album, I was basically kinda depressed at that time. Like, super slow beats, the raps were kinda depressing. With The Enemy, I was kinda in between moods. I was in a good mood because I had the MPC, but then I was feelin’ aggressive, dealing with other emcees and the whole ego thing. Dealing with cats I know and the whole bullshit ego thing made me wanna respond lyrically, like battlin’ on some attack shit. But if you listen to that particular album, a lot of the music is kinda happy sounding, but I’m spittin’ bars, choppin’ heads kinda sorta lyrically. 

    But I mean, shoot, there’s a lot of people that use the word love in vain and I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding about love and human sexuality. There’s a lot of misinformation being projected in the mass media about that experience. And I was just letting myself be guided by that experience and allowing it to be a thing that motivates me and that inspires me. I can respond ego for ego - there’s a lot of ego driven artists today - or I can destroy the ego and just allow myself to be moved, having a certain amount of unconditional love in my heart. I mean, I’m still the rawest dude doing a love album. It’s probably gonna be the hardest, rawest love album you ever heard in your life. If you can imagine the Wu-Tang were a soul group and they were singing instead of doin’ raps.

Is the Liquid Sunshine project still on the horizon?

    I mean, it’s completed. I mean, a lot of things, you gotta kinda let nature take its course, in certain regards. If I have a vision – let me explain something to you, go a little more in depth about the Aki Khalaq and the Blak Prints project. It’s a group project. The front man is Aki Khalaq, the Blak Prints are the background singers and the feature is Aki Kharmicel. He’s the emcee on the album. The producer is The Ak. When I have a group project like that, there’s usually not gonna be a lot of complications releasing the shit. When you’re dealing with other people, you might say it’s the right time to drop the shit, but they may not feel it’s the right time. So, basically, certain things haven’t come together. The stars haven’t aligned yet for that particular project to be released. So the project is completed. I would say it’s mainly just the artwork and getting the actual music pressed up and then just putting forth the effort and energy to promote it. It’s a two-man project, so it takes both of us to put forth that amount of energy. When I have projects, the tons of projects I do myself, and when I have projects I do with other people and they don’t feel they’re ready, then it’s just gonna automatically take a backseat. If I’m dealin’ with a chick and I like her a whole lot, then this other chick comes around who likes to spend a lot of time with me, then I’ll probably end up with the chick who likes to spend time with me, ya dig?

Where can people keep up with your latest projects?

    They can check my Soundcloud. I got some other stuff I’m gonna be posting. I like putting little updates, a teaser up there from an album that might be released in the near future. Right now, I’m mainly focused on getting some kind of monetary support behind these projects because, basically, I know that there’s some label or whoever, some people with deep pockets, who would like to finance some of this good artistry, so rather than independently pushing this shit until I’m 105 years old, it’s time to start reaching out and get some money behind these projects. That way you can get some coverage so people who wanna hear this shit can support it, ya dig? ‘Cause, as an artist, when I do it, I do it for the love of it. But once you record that project, it costs money to put it out there. I will press it up if I have to but there may only be a hundred lucky bastards who get to cop the shit, or fifty [laughs], you know?

    Like in San Diego, they don’t know how to see someone on the cusp and support it. They’re not used to that in San Diego. In New York, they see an artist on the cusp of blowing up on some new shit, they support it. In Diego, how they get down is they gotta see the artist blow up outside of Diego. Then they go, “Oh, okay. He’s tight. I’ll buy his shit.” Maybe they’ll ask for it for free and listen to it two years later. Somebody actually told me some shit like that once. I think they actually paid for the CD, but didn’t listen to it for two years. Then they said, “Yo, I listen to that all the time now. It’s my favourite shit!” Took ‘em two years to listen to the CD…


  1. really need some re-up for his album cuz I missed all of em from ghetto tyylit...

    1. I would recommend hitting him up on Facebook ( and checking out his bandcamp page ( Also, stay tuned for some Aki Kharmicel albums being released on cassette through beetbak in the near future