With so much negativity in the world, young rapper, Ackurate The Wise shines a bright light on the future of hip hop culture. Growing up in East St Louis, Ackurate rises above the mindset of his upbringing. He takes on a positive mentality, holding strong to the knowledge that anyone can rise above the negativities of the world with faith and determination. He dedicates his debut album, Soul Misfit to his late grandmother, incorporating powerful messages and clever wordplay that speak to the soul on a deep intrinsic level.
We chat to Ackurate about his latest project, how he incorporates spoken word into his music, and the process of dealing with depression. Ayla Dhyani writes.
You just dropped Soul Misfit, tell us what the album means to you.
It’s a journey. My grandmother actually past away on June 9th 2015, and pretty much every track on there has different pieces of information and wisdom that she’s given to me throughout my life. So, basically I’ve just tried to utilise those words in a format where it’s more relatable to the hip hop culture.
You incorporate spoken word into your music a lot as well, do you find that the words come before the music in your writing process?
Of course. I mean it depends. Sometimes you have a particular topic and then find particular production that goes with it. Then other times the beat would speak to me first.
You collaborate with your sister, Jane G33, as well…
Yeah, that’s it. You know what’s funny… she’s not even my real sister (laughs). Our chemistry together is just incredible. For us we really don’t need to collaborate with anybody else a part from ourselves. We’ve been doing some great work together for a long time. The funny thing about us is that we’ve only met one time.
Really? How does that work?
We actually met on a rap forum. With the Internet we send things back and forth to each other. We talk a lot on the phone. We Skype a lot as well. We just keep each other lifted up.
As a young rapper with such deep lyrical content, where does your main source of inspiration come from?
Well I guess I can break it down like this… I’m a very open-book person. I don’t really have a problem talking to people. There has been many times where I’m just conversing with someone and I can come up with whole topics and write songs just based on whatever conversation I was having with that person. I love words too. I graduated from college with a degree in English. I read the dictionary almost every day. There are also particular artists that I listen to from Mos Def, Pharoe Monche, Elzhi, stuff like that (laughs). That’s pretty much where my inspiration comes from mostly. And being a student of the game, I always look for information and not think that I know it all. I’m still young.
Tell us a bit about the Incredible Niche Collective.
It’s basically a collective of artists, from producers, emcees, engineers, videographers, photographers, graffiti artists, pretty much name it. It’s pretty much just a collective based around people who enjoy the art and the process behind it. It’s a whole idea of expression. My last EP, which I dropped in 2014, was called Verseology. That was my first project through the INC, they were happy to put that on the act as part of their collection of artists, which is very cool to me. But it’s an incredible collective in so many different ways. It’s a family and it’s a way to stay active and communicate with other artists.
You’ve also shared that you dealt with depression throughout your life, has creating music changed you as a person?
Yeah, of course. I chose a different path in my life. I could have ended up on the streets. I had a lot of family members who were on the streets. I could have played sports or what not, but I chose the more educational path and intellectual path. I wrote a lot and read a lot, and then when I got into poetry I really became the black sheep of the family. I was being called soft and all sorts of things. My grades were high and my teachers were very proud of me, but I was getting ridiculed because of that. It really messed with me and put me in a state of mind where I really stopped talking and lost my voice – physically and spiritually. So from really a lot of praying and writing my problems down and expressing them through poetry, I found my voice again. And after finding my voice, as an artist, it was just a revelation of who I wanted to be. Hip hop and writing and the act that goes with it is a very important part of my life because it brings me back to get in tune with myself. I’m really in tune with my mind, body and spirit now. It’s a process and in due time everything comes together for you if you want it to.
Any new projects that you’re working on at the moment?
Yeah, I’m actually working on Soul Misfit 2 right now. Also I enjoy just the whole craft of being an artist and I’m trying to put together a small project basically with the listeners. [I'm going to] ask the listeners what they want me to rap on. I’m going to pick 12 people to do 12 different beats and then I’m going to have social media vote on the best 6 then create something out of the best 6. Just to keep my mental process focussed but also show that I have total respect for the people in this industry.
What moves you?
I think what moves me is seeing the environment that I grew up in. I’m from East St Louis, Illinois, which is a very negative environment. I was kind of lucky to move to New York and live out there and get a firm foundation of who I am as a young man. Then to come back out here and try to be that light in the darkness and try to show people you can get away from the negativities of the world and make something extremely positive out of it if you want to. Because it really does come down to whether you want that life. If you don’t want to have a prominent life, it won’t happen. It’s up to you. Nobody can make it happen but you. I could have easily given up, but I kept fighting and that’s the big thing. Falling down is one thing, but standing up is a whole other thing that’s even harder than falling down. So I just want to give people hope, keep faith as high as possible, keep high spirits and just remain in that positive rhythm and get away from that negativity. And if you do wind up being in a negative place, just jump back as hard as you can into that positive state of mind. That’s my purpose.