Aklesso Beats the Odds of Culture, Tragedy, & a Broken Family to Make Music
Aklesso wasn’t supposed to be an artist. Growing up in Miami in a Haitian family, his “future” was either as a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or a businessman. Anything less than these would be considered a failure. In fact, the 25-year-old rapper wasn’t even allowed to listen to hip-hop in his home. So how did he get here?
Last week, an article on Aklesso talked about his brilliant 2018 into 2019. Now we’ll take a look back on the events that made Aklesso who he is as an artist.
Growing up in a strict Christian home, rap music was a no-no. Aklesso had to use a torrent such as Limewire to get his hip-hop fix. It was there that he was exposed to Kanye West, Drake, and a slew of other artists that would influence his music. In a neighborhood full of culture, he’d listen to “stick and jook” music.
“It was very dance-oriented and party music. The younger people would be stickin and jookin. It influenced the way I rapped,” he explained. “Also being in a place so full of culture. Not every black person is just black. They are either Jamaican, Haitian, Bahamian, African. Not every Hispanic is Mexican – Cuban, Colombian, Dominican, etc.”
The spark was lit by Aklesso’s aunt and uncle. They bought him sound equipment to use and along with two friends started Fresh to Death Entertainment. He was around 11 or 12 years-old.
About a year or so later, his father left. He remembers the date vividly, January 24th, 2007. Aklesso began immersing himself into sports and music because of it.
As stated before, it was expected that Aklesso would get a good job after school. He was doing music for fun. After high school, he received a scholarship to the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, Rhode Island. The plan was to go there for one year and then go to the Naval Academy in Maryland.
While at the prep school he made a friend named Julian Turner. Turner encouraged him to rap. Shortly after, Aklesso recorded his first song for real at age 18. He then felt the call to do mission work and got a scholarship to Liberty University.
Now at Liberty with a track scholarship, a roommate named Darius Dixon further pushed the music issue with the young emcee. They trained together and ran with the same circle of people. Dixon became Aklesso’s ear. As he would write and record music, his roommate would hear everything first and critique it.
The response was always, “Bro, you’re going to make it. You’re going to go far.”
Tragically, on December 7th, 2013, Dixon died in a car accident.
“It wasn’t until he died that it became the moment that I was going to do this for real,” Aklesso revealed. “I ended up just writing and put out a mixtape in 2015 called Dark Days of Martin and Coretta.”
That is when he began his pursuit of taking Virginia by storm with free shows. Read about this in part one.
Now Aklesso is well on his way with a bright future ahead of him. He fought against the odds of his culture and tragedies of life. He used the heartache as fuel to build momentum.
“Everyone is on a journey. For me, I want to speak the truth of God that’s intricate. People are not singular beings. We are all complex people,” said Aklesso. “God has made us so unique, our stories aren’t going to be the same.”
He wants his fans to grow closer to God with him. That growth is reflected in his music.
“I feel like my music is really for everyone. I feel like it gives a message of hope and positivity,” he said. “Sonically it gives you an experience that’s different from what’s out there. I think my music relates to a lot of people across the board. Even if you don’t experience the same situation, there are people in our lives that will experience it.”
Another way that he shares with his listeners is through his platforms. Aklesso represents himself well and speaks on what he can when he can.
“I don’t think every artist should speak on every situation. One, they may not be versed in it and two, it may not be something that burns in their heart. There’s some kind of injustice that may burn in your heart and if it does, you should speak on it. I’m not saying to be a pastor – just talk,” he stated. “If you don’t like that babies are being killed, speak on that. If you don’t like that young black men are being shot, speak on that. You can’t be quiet about injustice. There’s always someone to fight for you whether it be God or someone else.”
He continued, “You need to leave behind a legacy. If people say, ‘Yo Aklesso is the best artist ever’, then I failed. If I’m remembered just for my music and not the things I’ve done, the people I’ve helped, or the communities I’ve helped restore, or the message of God, I really failed. It’s going to be shameful. [I’ve felt this] Ever since Nipsey died, this is a man overcoming obstacles that left a legacy.”