Viper Records recording artist Akir is back with his long-awaited album, The Plan. Akir is an acronym that stands for “Always Keep It Real”, and that credo is on display throughout The Plan. The album is produced mostly by Akir alongside his partner in The Sound, Ty Steez. Also providing tracks to The Plan are Omen and Deborah’s Son.
The Plan features appearances by TL Cross, Swave Sevah, Poison Pen, Lo Diggs, Sheena Grier, and Viper Records founder Immortal Technique. Akir will join Immortal Technique and Brother Ali as part of the War & Peace tour this fall in addition to the east coast dates of the Rock the Bells festival.
Akir spoke to Examiner.com about heading out on the War & Peace tour with Brother Ali and Immortal Technique, his position on the country’s gun debate, and his new album, The Plan.
SS: The Plan has been talked about for years. How does it feel to have it finally ready to be released?
Akir: Oh man, amazing. I went through quite a bit of trials and tribulations to see it in its final stages. It’s nothing like being able to cross that finish line so I’m ecstatic.
SS: Explain the title of the album.
Akir: The Plan is essentially a working strategy toward me progressing as a man; different pieces that are reminders of what to improve on consistently to take me to the place that I want to be at. I just want to be the best man I can be, friend, father, brother, artist, mentor, what have you. These are working pillars so to speak for me to achieve my end goal.
SS: What makes The Plan different from Legacy?
Akir: Well, Legacy was more a commentary of contemporary issues between generations. I noticed that there was a huge generation gap and a perpetual distance fed by media that had us not communicating with each other. The elders are scared of the kids and the kids are disrespectful to the elders and feel abandoned. It was just bringing that dialogue into light and provoking a larger discussion and signifying that there was a need for change. That was what Legacy was about.
The Plan is now stating that once we have those communications and now that I’m talking to my elders and finding out their life experiences and how I could possibly have a more clear path toward mine, what is it that I really want and how can I achieve that and set up my legacy for those to come?
SS: You produced a song on the album called ‘Bear Arms’. The right to bear arms has been a controversial topic over the last few months. Why was it important for you to write that song?
Akir: To be honest with you that song has been in progress for quite some time now. I think the issue at the point that I wrote that song was the shooting in Virginia. As time progressed other events took place which made it even more relevant. I think it’s interesting that it’s coming out around this time especially after Trayvon and the current laws in Florida. It’s a necessary dialog because every man and woman should be able to protect their family and their property and whatever they’ve amassed for their family. Obviously it’s a difficult decision. I’m not prepared to take a man’s life but I am prepared to defend my family and my home. We hear about vets that are coming home from war and are having Post Traumatic Stress because of the things that they’ve had to encounter with violence and weapons.
If you listen to that song closely you’ll hear the gun shots in the hook and the aggressive nature of the beat itself but each verse has a different perspective on it. Mine is a cautionary tale whereas Swave’s is more aggressive where he’s saying, “Don’t test these boundaries because it can happen to you, especially if you’re talking about hurting my family.” Long story short, I think it’s appropriate that it comes out at this time. I hope that people can comprehend the subtext that’s in it versus giving it one listen and thinking it’s about aggressively being reckless.
SS: What’s your relationship like with Viper Records founder Immortal Technique?
Akir: That’s my man. We came up together as teens. He was my rhyming partner. That’s who I was excited to hear his new verse and try to challenge each other to keep our brains sharp. We’ve been travelling the world together in this Hip-Hop sh*t and he’s opened up a lot of doors for me and I hope in my own way I’ve done the same. It’s a natural match. I get to make money and music with my homeboy so it’s a dope relationship.
SS: You’re going out on the War & Peace tour with Brother Ali and Immortal Technique as well as Rock the Bells. What do you have in-store for fans that come to see your live show?
Akir: Well, they’re used to certain material from me from my Legacy album. With Focus and The Plan as well I have an extended catalog. I’m able to run through various projects which all have different tones. I like to make sure that my shows have a beginning, middle, and an end. I want to make sure it has peaks and valleys because I like to take them through an experience. It might sound kind of cliché but I make sure that I plan my set so that it’s effective that way. In the beginning I come out with a blast, we have fun and then I take you to an exciting space and then we bring it down to something a little more intimate.
In the end I remind the people to have fun and not forget that even with all the sh*t in the rhymes that are negative and overwhelming at times be a human being and enjoy your life because it’s very precious. It’s a very enjoyable experience. A lot of people have told me recently as I’ve gotten better at my craft and have been more diligent in touring that the most becoming aspect of it is I now am having fun and a lot of these lyrics that I wrote when I was a teenager or a young adult I’ve now fulfilled them in a different way. The context means so much more and I’m able to deliver it in a much more concerted and assured way.
SS: What can fans expect to hear September 24 when The Plan drops?
Akir: Wow, growth, significant growth and all around respect for being able to say that I made it here and I’m looking forward to being here for a long time. A lot of the music I made prior was when I was a young adult and I feel like I’m fitting into my shoes. I’m able to experiment more. Even with ‘Future’ that background piece is me being tired of people sounding the same on Autotune and just wilding out on some Bobby McFerrin sh*t. I’m just having fun with it now. I hope that along with the dense lyrics and content I hope that people are able to vibe with me more in terms of the music that I’m producing as well.