Conscious Knock Out
Boston boasts deserving champions as the Celtics have proven, but there’s one more contender in an entirely different game. Underground rapper Akrobatik’s second album Absolute Value melts conscious rhymes, battle-ready verses, classic East Coast production, and a slew of legendary guests in a hip-hop pot of much deserved props. Akrobatik delivers like an early Xzibit, but spreads the knowledge a la Immortal Technique. The album opener “A to the K” featuring Cypress Hill’s B-Real has Akrobatik reinforcing his spot in the rap game after a 5-year absence of new material by laying down an anthemic first verse leading to an expletive-laden war chant for a hook.
In “Put Ya Stamp On It” a triple threat ensues with Akrobatik playing host to fellow conscious rapper Talib Kweli and heavily influential late producer J Dilla, who is remembered by Akrobatik. The bittersweet violin samples house the emceeâ€šÃ„Ã´s package and “put a stamp” on the excellent lyrical delivery.
Dilla-influenced producer 9th wonder and his ex-group Little Brother provide another star-studded collaboration with “Be Prepared” touching on themes of coming up and surviving in the current state of hip-hop.
Akrobatik must’ve done something right to collaborate with the grandfather of political rap Chuck D to open the imagistic narrative “Kindred.” Akrobatik poetically becomes the embodiment of African slavery and links the atrocious imagery to the recent American tragedy that was Hurricane Katrina.
Conscious hip-hop or not, Absolute Value raises never-tired issues while pulling its weight as a solid, rhyme-strong, and beat-heavy rap album.