Boston is not known for being a place where Hip-Hop lives, on a mainstream level anyways. Most Hip-Hop heads can only name Benzino and Ed OG as being cats from that area. There is actually a pretty solid underground that is peeking its head out of that neck of the woods. One of those mastadons is Akrobatik, an MC many might consider "underground", but he is more than that. He is 1/3 of The Perceptionists, with long time collaborators and friends Mr. Lif and DJ Fakts One. He has a quality album in stores, Balance, where he truly shows the differing sides of a man, an MC, and a human being, guts and all. He is currently working on a new album, but took the time to bless us with news on what to expect, as well as his views on Live Hip-Hop shows, who he considers some of the superheroes of the game, and other odds and ends...
khal: First off, congrats on all of the props you have received for the Perceptionists’ Black Dialogue album. How does it feel to have one of your albums deemed one of the best of 2005, as well as have been up for a Plug Award?
Akrobatik: Thanks a lot! It was definitely hot to get the recognition we did for that album. It was a long time coming, and we really hoped it would be well-received. I'm glad we got together and made the project happen, and I look forward to doin' more joints as The Perceptionists.
Akrobaitik: Yeah, I feel that way, too. That's why we went with the artwork design that we did for the album. Our influences stem from that era where content was important, and we wanted to make an album that we thought would get respect from the cats that we look up to as well as the new fans and cats that been down with us since day 1.
khal: You’ve been dropping tracks on various labels, from Detonator and Coup D’etat to Rawkus and Def Jux. Recently, you signed with NYC’s Fat Beats for the release of your upcoming album, Absolute Value. Why’d you sign with Fat Beats, and not stick with Def Jux to put out your album?
Akrobatik: Well, Def Jux is a quality label, without question. But they have their hands full with artists that have been holdin' them down from jump, so I needed to set myself up in a situation where I would be top priority. Fat Beats definitely gives me a chance to spread my wings, expand my audience, and get the attention I feel I deserve as a soloist.
khal: Can you give us any insight as to what’s going on with the Absolute Value LP? Is there a central theme/concept throughout the album? Who’s on the beats? Any guest MCs?
Akrobatik: Well, as of now it's still a work in progress. The concept is a loose one. My focus on this album is to have end-to-end bangers that are gonna kick ass when I hit the road. I'm definitely not trying to be super-conceptual with this album. I prefer to go against the grain. Absolute Value is gonna be a headbangin', ass-movin' LP, with hard beats and rough rhymes, just the way so many hip-hop heads love it. I got beats from Illmind, Beatminerz, Therapy, J-Zone, Fakts One, 9th Wonder, all types of cats. B-Real from Cypress Hill, Freddie Foxxx, Mr. Lif, and a few other special guests will stop in, too...
khal: Take us into the studio with you: how do you come up with your tracks? Are you bringing a full book of rhymes to the studio and working out those ideas, or do your songs come to fruition when you hit the studio? Also, does your process differ when you are working with the Perceptionists as opposed to doing your solo tracks?
Akrobatik: A lot of producers are probably frustrated with me, because they give me CDs full of dopeness, and I only end up choosing one or two. I listened to thousands of beats while I was writing this album, and I really only picked beats that told me they needed me to write to them. In other words, I listen to hear a song out of a track before I even write anything. I don't keep books full of rhymes; I just think I stay ready to write "THAT" song to "THAT" beat. With the group, I think the process was similar, but it's cool to have someone to bounce ideas around with.
khal: I was on another blog the other day, where they were kind of dissing Hip-Hop live shows for not being innovative and what have you, with that being the reason as to why most Hip-Hop artists don’t make as much loot on shows as opposed to Rock acts or what have you. What do you try to do live that separates your show from the next mans?
Akrobatik: It's funny you ask that, because I am in the process of a complete overhaul of my live show. I'm really gonna try to make my show worth well beyond the price of admission. I totally agree that a lot of shows are lackluster. I think I do a good job as a soloist, but I've always felt it could be even better. That's definitely a focus of mine. As I get older, I'm realizing the importance of cardiovascular health. I wanna be out there 20 years from now still doing this if I want, so I'm just trying to master breath control and pacing myself. Aside from that, I just like to be personal with the crowd, and make sure that everything I say can be heard clearly. I treat Emceein' like a sport, and the shows are the big games. I try to show up and and do my best every time.
khal: You’ve got a lot of classics tracks, from "SayYesSayWord" to "Remind My Soul" to "Internet MCs" and the "Fat Shit" tracks with Lif. What is YOUR favorite track that you’ve done? Why? Do you have any tracks out there that you are not so happy with?
Akrobatik: I think my favorite track is a joint off my new album. It's the first song on the album, and I think it's gonna go down as my signature track. It's just gets me hyped as hell. Throw that shit on, and my adrenaline starts flowin' immediately. But as far as joints that I have previously released, it would have to be "Remind My Soul". I have other songs that I think I like more, but that one has effected so many people in so many positive ways that I can't overlook how much it means to me.
khal: What’s good about Hip-Hop these days? What’s something that you wish would be kept out of the scene?
Akrobatik: What's good about Hip-Hop is that there is an audience out there large enough to keep independent artists alive and relevant. Also, Hip-Hop remains to be our most powerful voice. It's a shame that so many abuse that, but that doesn't erase the fact that the vessel is still there to be used for the greater good. For me, I would love it if the whole crack dealer/gun runner shit would die out. It's played and not really believeable anymore. So many people are tryin to be "THAT" dude, that the creativity is leaking out of Hip-Hop. But, I think there are enough creative and talented cats out there keepin' the real shit alive. Even in gangsta rap, you have plenty of dudes who still approach the shit as emceein', and that's all I really ask.
khal: You’ve connected with plenty of artists out there, but it’s a big world out there. If you could do an EP with ANY producers/MCs/artists out there, who would you choose and why?
Akrobatik: I wanna do an album with Illmind. His beats are incredible. I would also love to put together a supergroup of black superhero emcees like Ghostface, Doom, Pharoahe Monch, Bumpy Knuckles, Black Thought, and myself. Although I realize that would be putting myself in very exclusive company. Those guys are all some of the all-time greats.
khal: Your success has taken you all over the world on tour; what state/city/country has the livest crowd? On the flipside, what’s the WORST experience you have had during a live show?
Akrobatik: I love Paris. I love album release shows in Boston. Crowds in Baltimore have always been live for me for some reason, too. Internationally when you do the festivals, those are definitely the livest crowds. Illest show I've ever done though was at the Bonnaroo Festival in '05. It was Perceptionists, RJD2, and De La Soul. 10,000 people in a tent whilin' for hours. Mad fun...
As far as the worst experience, one time I was doing a show in Berlin. My DJ threw on the vocal version of "SayYesSayWord", and when I turned around to let him know, he had his back turned diggin' through records.
khal: Most people know you are a Boston head, and are into sports heavy. What’s going on with your Patriots this coming season?
Akrobatik: Ahh... I can't say I'm not disappointed about losing Vinatieri, McGinest, and Givens. But we drafted well. I trust that the organization will once again field a product that cats can be proud of. It's a tough league though. It could be decades before another team accomplishes what the Pats have done in the last 5 years.
khal: I read in XXL a while back that you are seriously into WWE, and wrestling in general. Who would you say is the superstar that is most like Akrobatik, and why? Do you think you could take any of the WWE stars in a match?
Akrobatik: I guess I would have to say John Cena. Aside from the Hip-Hop thing, the way he does a lot of his slams and stuff like that is similar to my style in the ring. He bounces around a lot, and I'm the same way. Charisma-wise, though, I'd say Stone Cold Steve Austin. He's the man.
khal: Which MCs (dead or alive) are in your top 5?
Akrobatik: Man that's NOT easy. Here goes, no order:
ya know what I'm not gonna do this. There are too many dope emcees to narrow it down to just a top 5. And what are we basing greatness on?
Ain't no best.
khal: Let’s wrap this up; do you have any final words and/or shout outs to drop?
Akrobatik: Just check for me when the album drops in October, and on the road this summer! Hit me up online at Akrobatik.com or www.myspace.com/therealakrobatik