Aki Kharmicel claims he hasn't stopped recording in 17 years. He likes to make beats, and he likes to record. He likes Texas rap records. He says he developed his slow, murky sound purely by "accident."
He lives on a quiet street in a single-family home. He has a yard and a lawn. His house is gated with an old Mercedes Benz sitting in the driveway. It's welcoming, though tucked behind a waist-high gray fence. The interior of his house is neat and organized with dark wood floors. Just through the kitchen sits "The Boiler Room," his man cave; a relaxed sound studio with shelves full of tapes, records and recording gear, a couch for company and a TV. It's his home studio that looks and feels like the most lived-in part of his house.
A non-stop rapper and beat maker, he hasn't taken a break from recording since a yearlong hiatus in 1997. He likes to produce on drum machines -- admitting that he owns a total of eight -- but says, at the moment, his favorite is his MPC 2000. It's the drums and the way the 2000 allows him to loop them. They come out smoother on that machine. It's a process he says he stumbled on by necessity.
Wanting to make beats but not knowing how to loop sounds, he taught himself how to chop samples and in the process, he was able to find his own voice.
"In all honesty, a lot of the s--- that I did was just an accident," he says. "Just being in the studio with samples, f---ing with s--- and then from there it's like, 'Oh, I like this s--- that I just made, I'm gonna make more s--- like that.'"
As an artist, he's dedicated and as a fan, he's been into music for as long as he can remember. In high school he says, "I got a lot into Texas rap." After buying an early album by Houston's Scarface, he was all in. Finding other Rap-A-Lot artists to listen to, like the Geto Boys, and his favorite, Gangster NIP. Eventually, he went on to buy most of the label's catalog. He's a completest and it's evidenced not just in his Rap-A-Lot stories but also in the music collection that lines his studio walls.
He doesn't just have Redman's first album. He has most of them. Not just one Wu-Tang album -- but all the Wu-Tang albums. So too is his own musical output, with work that comes in volumes; full albums complete with aliases, story lines, and "aka's." There's early work under the name Akbar Sun. The rap-centric projects as Kennuf Akbar. His "Brazier Than Batman Lewis" series -- volumes one and two -- and lately he's even taken to singing about love as Aki Khalaq & The Blak Prints [watch here].
But on his most recent release, "AAAK!" as Aki Kharmicel, he's all smoldering rap grit and compound syllables -- rapping over slow, muddy samples and distorted kick drums. It's an album void of any hint of love, rather full of piss and vinegar. One that finds Kharmicel with little time for the timid and no compassion for the weak. If Aki Khalaq is him in search of love, than "AAAK!" is its polar opposite. It's 'no cares given,' and his best 'F-you!' persona.
He explains it like this: "I kinda patterned it as a B-budget horror movie, because I feel like my beats and rhymes is killin' n-----, so the 'AAAK!' aspect of it is the screams of killin' wack n----- style."