Akala and Katibeh Khamseh at RichMix, Friday 19 June 2015
Event compared by Kayo Chingonyi
Eminent UK hip hop artist Akala will be headlining a unique show at Rich Mix featuring Palestinian hip hop group Katibeh Khamseh and hosted by spoken word artist Kayo Chingonyi, for the Celebrating Sanctuary London festival during Refugee Week UK.
The MOBO award winning MC and founder of the Hip Hop Shakespeare Company is recognised as a visionary on the UK hip hop scene. Pushing radical politics, poetry, social awareness and activism to the fore, Akala is a modern day chronicler of the global struggle for equality. He weaves together the history of Imperialism, race and poverty, immigration and social conditioning, and the power of modern corporations. Within this narrative are themes on everyday racism affecting those people who have fled persecution and arrived here to seek sanctuary. Akala challenges the misinformed tabloid and political rhetoric targeting immigrants and refugees/asylum seekers, making him the perfect headline artist for this year’s Celebrating Sanctuary London 2015.
Joining Akala on the bill is the London-based Palestinian hip hop group Katibeh Khamseh featuring MCs, a beatboxer, and a graffiti artist. Katibeh Khamseh’s history is pivotal to this year’s theme set by the festival producers Counterpoints Arts: ‘Displaced’ – looking at existence in areas like Refugee Camps, Detention Centres, the migrant crises in the Mediterranean and cross-border movement.
The group were formed at the age of fifteen at a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon before arriving in the UK. From the start they have reflected these experiences on their first album ‘Ahla Feek Bil Moukhayamat’ (Welcome to the Camps), which gave an account of living conditions in the camps, corruption in humanitarian aid organisations, Israel & Palestine, and the war in Iraq.
Katibeh Khamseh’s music brings together loops from Arab melodies and electronic instruments with hip hop beats. Their lyrical direction is based on fighting the oppression and occupation that so many Palestinian’s face, international revolution and freedom & justice. They are happy to set themselves apart from mainstream narratives of commercialised hip hop with their articulate socio-political activism and commentary. The strong support they receive from their community indicates that through their music they are sharing crucial stories that so many connect to.
The host for the evening will be Zambian born poet Kayo Chingonyi. Kayo’s spoken word commentaries explore themes like race, heritage, urban life and the search for understanding between people.
Music and musicians affecting social change is very much alive today – and in this special show the artists are very much proof of this.