On the few occasions that I have the rapper Akan live, I had often left the venue with extreme satisfaction. Even his brief showings on other peoples’ events are executed with pure class. Akan hands you excitement and awe; you are left feeling satisfied yet lingering for another dose of his live performance. In other words, Akan has mastered the art of meeting your expectations while saving himself from spoiling you.
Akan is never boring on stage. Of course, his calm demeanor is usually apparent. But through that veneer appears a spirited, well-crafted and engaging performance. These qualities were on full display yesterday at Alliance Francaise when Akan hosted his ‘’Onipa Akoma Concert’’.
Akan can be described as a cautious and calculated man who is bidding his time for ultimate recognition by many without compromising his ingenuity. Despite possessing the necessary elements that could easily warrant him a stake within the mainstream- his music is layered and thoughts provoking and his stagecraft is exhilarating- Akan doesn’t seem to need that validation.
So conscious is he of his craft that, he would rather be reluctant to share anything than do something that’s not right. This mindset of releasing excellent materials at lesser pace might sound irrational to some – after all Akan has never delivered any flawed material since his 2015 “Akan EP”. To his associates, this plan is tenable in the context since he’s carving a certain niche for himself.
One of the pungent characteristics exuded by Akan is his incredible love for tradition. In fact, he is a man of tradition; an upholder of cultural values. His music blends the cultural heritage of his progenitors- of the Akan ethnic stock- and modern day rhythmic creations. On the Alliance Francaise stage, these two elements came alive across his three part performance.
Akan Is A Son of Tradition.
Akan appeared on stage draped in a full traditional cloth, like how most Akan elders dress. Instead of heading straight for the microphone and commencing his set, Akan chose to pour libation first. With a bottle of schnapps in hand, he went pouring the drink at the corners of the main stage amidst complimentary renditions from the amazing Senku Band.
This act is significant in the context of the Akan culture and traditions. And since most conversations or events begin with a prayer, in the form of pouring libation, this act by Akan was him respecting this well preserved tradition. Shortly after this, and a few rendition of songs like the pleading “Kae Kwabena”, the storied commandeering of the Golden Stool from the sky by Okomfo Anokye was reenacted.
Akan brought onstage an Okomfo whose trance- like performance was amazing to watch, even for those who have seen such displays before. For what was to be an additional aesthetic to his performance became, in my estimation, the standout of the night. And guess what he did when he performed his hit song from the album ‘’Me Sika Aduro’? He threw out GHc 2 notes into the crowd that had formed in front of the stage.
Watch: Interview With Akan on ‘Onipa Akoma’
For each set of the three act of performances, Akan’s costume matched whatever message he wanted to communicate. For the first act, the cover cloth he wore initially was tied to his waist while performing songs such as ‘Kae Kwabena’, ‘Anokye’ and ‘’Akora Boni Asitsina’’; the two from his Akan EP.
During his second set, he wore an all-black outfit with a gold chain dangling around his neck. His final act had him dressed in an all-white apparel with a matching head band. Most of the songs he performed were from his ‘’Onipa Akoma’’ album and singles like ‘Maa Jackie Freestyle’ and ‘Konnichiwa’.
Rehearsal Is King
For almost a year, Akan had been performing his songs live, backed by the Senku Band. The two have developed great rapport over the months. This silent relationship was evident last night. For the long period- over an hour- that Akan was on stage, the mantra that, an artist’s performance is as good as his band he plays with was confirmed.
The level of coordinated understanding between the artist and his band on the night was flawless. Every feature from Akan, and every note of music played by the guitarists or the drummer signaled a move to either continue or switch his style up. This level of harmony was demonstrated during the performance of “Akoma Nu Abuagumu” (Manhole). They did a rock, hiplife and RnB/soul version of the song. So seamless was the performance that those who may not be familiar with the song might think it was a medley of various songs. The masterful tact exhibited by Akan reminded me of Blitz The Ambassador whenever he’s on stage: the performance is always next to impeccable.
One advantage of live performances is that, the artist has the license to re-create his songs to further the experience they wish to offer. That is, the artist can bend the music towards any direction they want and get away with it. Judging by the overwhelming display of excitement from the audience, Akan’s execution was perfect. Like my cousin who was hearing and seeing him for the first time told me after the show, “he (Akan) is a complete artist”.
‘’Me twa me ho aba sesia’’ (I’ll be right back) became a signal to end his set. Instead of leaving the audience with nothing to engage with, Akan screened a compiled video of comments from producers, artists, bloggers and fans comments, one year after the release of ‘’Onipa Akoma’’.
Sequence of Performances
A downside of the few concerts I’ve attended over the years has been the poor sequencing of performances. The usual rule is often to let ‘underground’ artists perform first; a move that either dampen the enthusiasm of the audience or drag the show. The top acts usually have to do more to rekindle the enthusiasm of the bored audience when they took their turn.
When I arrived at the venue, Maayaa had begun her set. She performed two songs – “Perfect’ and ‘Ride’, off her impressive EP, “Chapter Red”. Her soulful display was the perfect spring board for the more boisterous outings by those who came after her. Worlasi, who had performed “Ride” with Maayaa, came back to perform a medley of his top songs- mostly from his “Outerlane” album; capping his renditions off with his hook on M.anifest’s “Okay”.
The built up enthusiasm was capitalized on by A.I. Performing without the band, A.I. proved once again why he’s such a bankable performer. From dropping acapella to running into the crowd, he made sure his presence was felt. AYAT, who was being waited upon by the two guys who sat behind me came to prove why he’s the deal. He could have left his “Guda” hit song for the fans to sing and all would be okay with it. Yung Pabi and Daney King Eli whose set I missed didn’t disappoint according to reports.
Akan has capped the year the best way he could. The “Onipa Akoma Concert” which began in February saw him stage pop-up events at different venues; and also toured some campuses as part of connecting with fans and promoting “Onipa Akoma”. One can understand the frustration of a section of his fans who think a talent like his should be more visible. But, Akan has always been the guy who does things at his own pace.
Whoever it is that Akan studies for his performances, we praise you. If it’s a gift from Providence, we ask the Odumankoma (Supreme Being) to bless him with more. A talent like him deserve our collective protection. And whenever you hear Akan is performing at a venue, don’t hesitate to attend. Based off the spectacular performances Akan continues to offer, we shall forever remember him. Y3 b3 kae Kwabena!!