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A BAFTA and MOBO award-winning rapper turned social activist, Akala is among the most popular diversity keynote speakers around. Accompanying his music, he spends much of his time fighting for social change and justice and has authored a number of books on the topics of race, oppression, class and privilege. At his speaking events, he can engage with audiences of all kinds helping people to broaden their minds, see things from the perspective of others and demonstrate how all of us can help in the fight against inequality.

Growing up in a working-class, single-parent household, Akala was aware of his race from a young age. An inquisitive and curious young person, he spent much of his time reading books and articles from some of the world’s most prominent black thinkers. Life wasn’t always easy, and growing up in a neighbourhood renowned for crime, he even carried a knife at a young age. All of these experiences shaped the man he is today, and as one of the most sought-after diversity keynote speakers on the circuit, he’s able to highlight to audiences what life was like during this time.

Music has always shaped Akala’s life. His step-dad worked at the famous Hackney Empire, and a young Akala would often accompany him to performances at the iconic venue. This inspired him to release his own music, and in 2006 his debut album It’s Not a Rumour was released to critical acclaim. Since then, he’s gone on to release five albums and a whole host of singles, and in 2006 was named the ‘Best Hip Hop Act’ at the MOBO Awards. Akala’s music has also seen him head up his own nationwide tours, appear at some of the UK’s biggest music festivals and become the first-ever hip hop artist to headline a concert in Vietnam. At his speaking events, he regularly discusses his rap career with audiences, as well as the messages he hopes to convey through his music.

Despite his musical success, Akala is perhaps best-known for his social activism. This sparked him to write the semi-biographical book Natives. Here, he explores themes of race, class and human exploitation. He gives an in-depth look into his own career successes, summarising that his rise was nothing to do with talent, more to do with an unequal system that allows a few, almost random, people to succeed while leaving the vast majority behind. The book also cites many of his friends and peers who have been victims of structural racism in a range of professional and creative fields. In his capacity as an event speaker, he’s able to elaborate on these views, fascinating audiences with his perspective on a variety of societal issues. 

Now, Akala can be found spending much of his time on activism work. In 2009 he formed the Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company, an organisation that explores the similarities between social and cultural issues today and the works of William Shakespeare. Plus, he frequently appears on a number of TV programmes and political panel shows where he discusses and debates current affairs and issues affecting society.

One of the best diversity keynote speakers you’re likely to hire, Akala can be booked for your next event by getting in touch with Evolve. Simply call us, or send us an email today.

Topics and Themes

  • Diversity
  • Music Career
  • Social Justice

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