"Life" featuring Akir ( Always Keep It Real)
“Life” featuring Akir
Life has always been one of my favourite tracks. From the way it all came together from the track, to the video all of it. It’s especially my favourite track because it features one of my all time favourite artists and friend Akir.
I met Akir in 2004 on Vans Warped Tour. Akir was traveling with then label mate Immortal Technique. Akir and I just clicked from jump street. He handed me his CDs Street Edition Volumes One and Two and I was blown away at the brothers butter smooth flow that spread just like his butter smooth style and persona. His live performance was cake. He was flawless and faced the crowd like it was second nature. He is from Washington, Heights and I hail from Brooklyn but I spent a lot of time in Washington Heights back in the day I know my way around. We had a lot in common. He was living in Brooklyn when we met as a matter of fact. I was held up in Jersey where I had to parole to in 2002. After Warped Tour we without question linked up back in New York.
In 2005 I approached Akir about getting on a track for my freshman album which I had recently started. I first planned to have no features but I made an exception when Akir agreed to jump on. The beat was produced by a good friend and colleague of mine Dj Emergency. I still remember the day he delivered the beat to me. It was exactly what I had been looking for at the time a piano heavy joint. Though I pound a lot of actual prison industry, and behind the walls facts within my bars overall the entire track is a metaphor. The track and album was and is heavily saturated with prison innuendos and influence. Keep in mind Akir stands for Always Keep It Real. When we were in the studio Ak was vibing to the track but he turned to me and said he wasn’t sure he could write to it because he had never been to prison. I asked him, could you give up hip hop right now forever? Give up writing, rhyming, recoding, performing just living hip hop could you give that up today, right now, forever? He said no, I said hell no, because we are sentenced to life without the possibility or chances for parole. We are doing time in this game as they like to call it now. We both busted out laughing like someone just dropped a gem at the barbershop. From their Akir took about an hour to go from mental, to pen, to paper to tape. He’s an amazing artist to work with. Very down to earth just no stress at all. A secondary meaning for me personally is my involvement in the struggle. I will remain on the front lines of the struggle till victory or till death and the same goes for living within the Hip Hop culture. A life sentence, no parole just like the MOVE 9 locked up in the hole.
The album wouldn’t be released for another 5 years. I did a lot of touring, traveling I was literally on the run. Within those years Akir and I did do some things. We performed together a few times I would support all his shows within the Tri-State area and did the same for me along with label mates at times. I was booking shows for sometime in the Tri-State for a few years and even booked Akir when I could.
In 2009 I was in the process of moving to Norway. I was traveling back and forth from Norway to the US every 90 days for over a year trying to get residence. On one of my 90 day US stays I linked up with Akir in Lower Manhattan where he was working for some youth program working with at risk youth. This center Akir worked at had it’s own recording studio. I forget who built it it was someone that was pretty famous. If I remember I will update ha. Anyway I visited the studio and we filmed some footage for a video to launch with the Life track. Note the track was actually recorded in Jersey ay my personal studio at the time. We didn’t have a whole lot of time, we had no lighting no nothing just a camera and a camera holder. The footage was raw lets just say that. After catching some shots in the studio we went out and caught some street shots. Lower Manhattan is like the belly of the beast. Built on slave graves, nourished in blood while being motivated by greed the business and courts district thrive partly because of the prison industrial complex. Some of the clips were filmed outside the very building where they sentenced Luis Felipe to Life plus 45 years to in prison be served in solitary confinement. A slow execution. His is one of the most oddest sentences by a judge to date who added a stipulation that he personally oversees the imprisonment of Luis overriding the authority of the Department of Corrections. It has never been done before in criminal law history. I reference Luis Felipe on the hook trying to bring light to his case and to pay homage to me brother. Luis Felipe no matter what the powers that be say about him has undoubtably been there for me in countless ways. He has helped me through some really difficult times in my life and he was without a doubt a huge inspiration behind the core concept of the song. Laced within the facts and prison innuendo are digs on the unjust treatment of Luis Felipe. I was trying to bring light onto his case, pay homage yet doing so cunningly remaining within the metaphor concept.
After filming Akir and I just kicked it on park bench remembering good times and bidding farewell. I believe I was leaving to Norway the next day or the following day for what became the last time. Oh and of course I couldn’t leave New York without getting one last parking ticket. Like $200 because I placed my parking receipt on the dash upside-down fucking New York. Couldn’t contest it from outside the country so I had to fit that bill into my already zero budget.
The album finally dropped on May 19 of 2010 Malcolm X’s bornday. By then I was building with graffiti artist and videographer Forshow from Drammen, Norway. We had met on one of my earlier stays in Norway. We met at the Protest Festival in Kristiansand. Forshow agreed to edit the footage for Life that I had compiled. He added a lot of the B-roll footage on his own and even thought to throw in visuals of Luis Felipe he found online. Forshow was intrigued by his case and supported my stance on it. We launched the video on December 4, 2010 on YouTube. There was some discussions as far as the quality of the video but under the circumstances under which the footage was gathered it was the best we could do so we ran with it. Fuck we underground. I was and still am a little disappointed that the track hasn’t done better than it has. I pushed it for a while but it just never picked up a momentum. I think it was slept on as far the the means that we pushed it to. But, the track and video are still very much alive. The album just got re-issued and digitally distributed world wide having been off the grid for nearly 5 years. And the video is forever a work of art I will cherish and pass down to my seeds.
Life is a great chapter in the book of my life. So much has changed since 2010 when it was released. Forshow ascended in 2015 and haven’t seen Akir since he was last in Norway in 2012 but we remain in contact. I have been in hiatus for nearly 5 years while still in self exile here in Norway. And yea I now have a beautiful 18 month old son. A lot of change.
A lot of great memories come up whenever I hear the track or see the video it gets no more underground if you ask me. Props and mad love to everyone that was involved in making this vision into a reality and have supported it
Peep out the video, please subscribe to the YouTube channel and if you will please comment, rate, hate and share the mutha fucka. Let’s put some life into Life. The track is also available on all digital outlets Spotify, Deezer, iTunes, Tidal for streaming and downloading and the physical copy should be up in out store. Peace, Love and Progress all.
Capital X "Life" featuring Akir. Produced by: DJ Emergency