Akrobatik Balance

[Coup D'Etat; 2003]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: underground hip-hop
Others: Edan, Mr. Lif, J-Live

Album covers may be the most revealing aspect of an artist. Many artists work hard at producing an album cover that reflects the subject matter, musicology and knowledge put forth on the release. This is evident by such hip-hop artists like El-P and Jurassic 5. Looking at El-P’s Fantastic Damage cover tell a story of chaos and confrontation; both of these feelings are evident throughout the record. J5 do the same thing with their cover of Power in Numbers, showing us harmony and togetherness, something that they’ve excelled at throughout their entire career. So when I picked up a copy of Akrobatik’s Balance, I was immediately confronted with an understanding of what this album could be bringing to the game. Unfortunately, my outlook was grim.

At first glance, the album cover seemed simple. Perhaps simple was good, bringing it back to the old days when everything was about the game. But as I ventured through the album tracks, it became evident that the album cover portrayed something else. The only word that came to mind was ‘hollow’. As I stared at the picture of Akrobatik, I could see through him and his image seemed to be faded. His stature appeared to be in the background of something more important. And to be honest, hasn’t Akrobatik’s career been in the shadows of many prolific underground hip-hoppers? Balance only seemed to amplify that Akrobatik’s status is inconclusive as a principal emcee in hip-hop.

Akrobatik may be best known for his work with Mr. Lif. But as the two collaborate, it is clearly evident that Mr. Lif is the foremost emcee of the duo. “Wreck Dem” is the duet by Mr. Lif and Akrobatik; one listen to the track shows accurately who shines with his poignant lyrics and subject matter. Mr. Lif’s lyrical skills outweigh Akrobatik and his delivery is resilient, electrifying anyone who wishes to listen. It is noticeable that Mr. Lif on “Wreck Dem” overshadows Akrobatik, but unfortunately for Akrobatik, “Wreck Dem” is the best track on the entire album. Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a ‘Mr. Lif is the best’ review, but it is apparent that Akrobatik has certain elements to reconsider. His lyrical content is impressive; his ideas are truly note-worthy but his desire seems overdone and preachy. Perhaps the production is flawed, including too many producers to create an unstructured flow. Overall, the album that is about ‘balance’ only creates confusion and cynicism. 

To reach the top of the hip-hop game, Akrobatik will have to go back to the drawing board. His ideas are worth mentioning, but his position is too far back behind far superior emcees. Akrobatik must step up, move away from the shadows and create a stronger ‘balance’ on his next release. He has the right elements, including his subject matter. All that he needs is to focus and to remain focused throughout the entire album. And perhaps his next album cover will be clear and concise, showing us a more conscientious emcee in the game of hip-hop.

1. Prelude to balance
2. Balance
3. Hypocrite
4. Hand that rocks the cradle
5. Remind my soul
6. Front steps
7. Feedback
8. Cooler heads
9. Wreck dem
10. Bone crusher
11. Woman II
12. Always bet on AK
13. Limelight
14. Time
15. Here and now