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12 May, 2003@12:00 am

    After making noise on the indy 12″ scene with his Eastern Conference certified banger “Internet MC’s”, catching some attention from his 2001 EP, and sharing the stage on Mr. Lif’s live album, the latest to emerge from the Boston scene (one that mirrors a late 80′s NYC) is Akrobatik, with his graduation to full-length status on Balance. Following J-Live’s All Of The Above (also on Coup D’e Tat), Akrobatik has a lot to live up to, and for the most part, he delivers. 

 While this isn’t exactly the 2003 equivalent to J-Live’s All Of The Above, it comes damn close, as people will definitely call this perhaps the most honest hip-hop album of the year. Ak is focused, and the main theme that runs concurrent through the album is of course that hip-hop lacks a sense of balance, as he laments on the vibey title track, “you either a nerd or a thug.” But Ak’s here to walk that fine line with his commanding street-bred delivery and his classroom education, dropping jewels that both cats in the ghetto and geeks on the internet can relate to. 

  Ak shows his versatility on Balance, whether he is ripping mics with vicious battle raps along with Mr. Lif (“Wreckdem”), or subliminally weaving in a moral to the story (“Cooler Headz”). If it’s hard-hitting lyrics you are looking for, check “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle”, where Ak catches wreck over Edan’s horny horns sounding like a classic Beatnuts banger, or the hard-hitting Boston-banger “Bonecrusher”. Meanwhile, Ak respectfully salutes the ladies on, “Woman Part II”, a gorgeous narrative propelled by smooth Dres (of Black Sheep) sample and laid back beat. But Ak’s at his best when he’s in reflective mode – peep “Front Steps”, where Ak observes a day of goings-on in his neighborhood; also check the wonderful “Remind My Soul” a lusciously smooth joint that might make Mos Def & Talib Kweli jealous, where Ak laments “Remind my soul (about) the time we were great before the self-hate…”. ; and finally, the back-to-back tracks that examine what we do with our limited lifespan on this earth on each “Time” and “Here And Now “. Altogether, there is some great stuff on this project….

    However, Ak’s debut isn’t completely unblemished – since the man is such a diverse emcee (teacher, battle rapper, picture painter), at times, when the production changes up to match the mood he’s in, his debut seems all over the place. Other times, some tracks fall into mediocrity, such as the disappointing “Feedback” w/ Diamond, or the equally bland Beatminerz produced “Always Bet On Ak”. However, while Ak’s album may not change the face of hip-hop, this is a good enough album that it will get him the much deserved attention, and hopefully at least bring some Balance to the game.

  Mixtape D.L.
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