We asked Akwasi about his 16 most important inspirations:
1. Mother – my first and last inspiration. She brings light.
2. Father – the man.
3. Family – hey, sorry, I’m just a Family Guy.
4. Bram Vermeulen – my spiritual mentor, my mr Miyagi.
5. Salvador Dali – Someone once told me I reminded him of Dali. I’m not sure why, but Dali does inspire me. His surrealistic ideas and images trigger to have a different view on the world. To imagine, let go of rules and to recreate reality.
6. Marcus Garvey – my teacher in black history. He taught me to be proud to be a black man. What has happened with my ancestors is not right, but it’s importantant to look ahead and be confident of the future.
7. Kanye West – There is no other artist I studied more than this guy. Analyzed his lyrics endlessly.
8. Tupac Shakur – The first hip hop artist I ever heard of. Even though is not here anymore, I still hear him.
9. Kraaiennest – My home forever
10. Osdorp – a part of me as well
11. Ozwald Boateng – I’m one of the greatest admires of his style, and his suits.
12. Leeroy en Hayzee. – The boys I started making music with – on a real level. The three of us make ‘Zwart Licht’ (Black Light’ red.)
13. Racism – without racism there would be no ‘Zwart Licht’, so there is a purpose for it in a way… Turn your poison into your medicine.
14. Teju Cole – Wonderful writer. Represents me.
15. Travelling – Wherever. This year I saw half of the globe, but that wasn’t enough. I would love just to see a continent each three months. Travelling makes you wiser by the second.
16. Dan Blazer – director of Blazhoffski. One of the most awesome persons I’ve met this year. I call him my mentor because in a short time I’ve learnt so much from this man. Hopefully, in the future we’ll get to make great things together.
The concept DE16VAN
The term ’16’, as known in the hip hop scene, is intended to get to know the skills and style of a singer, rapper or other kind of musician. People who play musical instruments know that a very common number of lines in one verse is sixteen. Four bars, sixteen lines, then the chorus. It is the basic element for artists to start writing songs with. A poetic number it seems. A number that explores someone’s thoughts, inspirations and roots, maybe.
Akwasi asks the speakers in the videos ‘their 16’. This way he gets inside their heads to find out who they are. Even though this number is inspired by hip hop, it can be applied to other scenes as well. The concept was originally meant to connect hip hop and theatre, but now has a much broader meaning. It is about being inspired and creating deep conversations, to get to know basically anyone. It doesn’t have to take long to get there, just one good question and an honest answer: what are your sixteen?