Since he began releasing albums back in 1997, Kennuf Akbar aka Aki Kharmicel has recorded music that gives you an unfiltered glimpse into his mind. By carving out a distinctive sound, utilizing unique rhyme patterns and wordplay, and covering uncharted ground conceptually, Aki draws the listener into a world that is rich and multifaceted. Since his earliest projects, he has used storytelling - altering the pitch of his voice to represent characters and moods - to colour the proceedings and add depth to his work. Twenty years later, Aki has only broadened his array of styles and personas, and his latest project, an EP entitled TheDameRejects Part 1 (Refuge from Refuse), is a collision of many of his more recent sounds. The EP is a prelude of sorts to his upcoming full length, D.A.M.E. (Destroying All My Enemies), this EP being a collection of "rejects" from that project. But due to the high caliber of these songs, Aki has creatively spun TheDameRejects into a full blown concept.
Not long after establishing himself as the futuristic soul man and raptivist Aki Kharmicel, Akbar quickly introduced his crooning alter ego Aki Khalaq, and his back ups, the Blak Prints. Through this outlet, Aki spun tales of doomed love, pimped up bravado and heartache, pushing the soulful vibes of Aki Kharmicel into new territory. Now, under the alias "Hurt," a reference to the bluesy song of the same name, Aki delivers this EP, which contains traces of his many alter egos. Producer The Ak, still firmly rooted in soul, also delves into funk and psychedelic sounds. Aki Khalaq grabs the mic to deliver some crooning, then falls back to let "Hurt" spit his rhymes, or talk shit, resulting in an always engaging and entertaining listen.
While so many artists approach making music in a mechanical way, recording a product to sell, Aki is a good reminder of what a true artist is. Many of the songs and albums he records never make it to the public, but he is constantly creating, refining and exploring new styles, strictly for the love of music. While those who treat it like a job make music that is formulaic and uninspired, Aki keeps it pure and it shows. This is a high water mark for this unique artist and the balance of styles present here convinces me that Aki's best and most interesting work lies ahead of him. Check out TheDameRejects EP on Aki's Bandcamp and stay tuned for future projects.