Hip-hop artist Akala to give FutureBook keynote

Hip-hop artist Akala to give FutureBook keynote

BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip-hop artist, writer/poet and historian Akala is to give a keynote address at the FutureBook Conference (4th December).

Akala will follow Annette Thomas, Susan Jurevics, and Stephen Page as the fourth morning keynote at what promises to be a ground-breaking publishing conference that will challenge delegates to re-imagine publishing in a broader digital and social context.

Akala is a label owner and social entrepreneur who fuses unique rap/rock/electro-punk sound with fierce lyrical storytelling. In 2009, Akala launched the ‘The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company’, which reinterprets the bard for a modern audience. Akala has also featured on numerous TV programmes across Channel 4, ITV2, MTV, Sky Arts and the BBC promoting his music, poetry as well as speaking on wide ranging subjects from music, youth engagement, British/African-Caribbean culture and the arts as a whole. He has also published a book of short stories, a graphic novel, and is currently working on an audiobook project, A Conversation to Freedom.

Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller and programme director for FutureBook 2015, said: "I'm stunned that Akala has agreed to keynote at this year's conference: Akala is a musician, writer, poet and publisher. His approach has been driven by a unique understanding of the way his audience wants to interact with him: he is the embodiment of new kind of storytelling not limited by format and amplified by the digital era. It will be an exceptional and uplifting conclusion to the morning keynotes, and a remarkable start to the conference. I am particularly grateful to Crystal Mahey-Morgan for her introduction to Akala, as well as to Akala's management team for carving out a space in his diary during his UK tour."

Akala said: "It's a really exciting time for artists. The nature of the internet has given a lot of artists the opportunity they never had before—I could never have built my career like I have 10 years ago. The internet changed everything, but it also means that Apple now sells 75% of all the music sold on planet earth, because they saw and understood the digital wave in a way music publishers did not... My mother treated the word can't as a swear word: when I think about doing something I don't feel daunted by the prospect of failure, I just get on and do it, but with respect for the form."

A full interview with Akala will be published in The Bookseller next week. In the meantime, Akala's ‘TEDx’ talk about the Hip Hop Shakespeare concept, can be viewed below.

This year's FutureBook Conference takes place on 4th December at the Mermaid Theatre and brings together the best of indigenous thinking about publishing with external perspectives. Akala joins Springer Nature's chief science officer Annette Thomas, Susan Jurevics, Pottermore c.e.o., and Faber chief executive Stephen Page as morning keynotes. HarperCollins UK chief executive Charlie Redmayne will close the conference with a manifesto for the future of the book business. For more information or tickets visit, click here.