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Ak'Sent Biography

Ak'Sent Biography

Signed to a major label when she was only 16 years old, MC Ak'Sent grew up quick thanks to a rough childhood. Her father, an aspiring rapper caught up in a gang lifestyle, was killed in a shooting when she was only four. With her mother unable to support her on her own, Ak'Sent was sent to live with her grandparents in L.A.'s South Central, where her African-American/Latino background had her wondering where to fit in. Adding to her challenges, rap music wasn't allowed in her grandparent's house, but as Ak'Sent learned more about her father's hip-hop aspirations, she decided she had to carry on in his honor. She eventually spent time in several R&B-based girl groups and began dance training with Debbie Allen. One showcase at the age of 16 had the young multi-talent signed to Capitol and working with the Jugganauts production team. Ak'Sent was especially excited about the Caribbean-styled beats the Jugganauts were working on, and soon she was writing a series of dancehall numbers. One was the future hit "Zingy," featuring guest star Beenie Man, who Ak'Sent herself had chosen because she was a huge fan. Her debut, International, landed in 2006 with a Spanish-language remix of "Zingy" and an ode to her departed father titled "My Life."

Ak'sent's debut, International, landed in 2006 with a Spanish language remix of Zingy and an ode to her departed father titled My Life, these are taken from her first studio album, International. As well as various mixtapes, her first album was ready to sell. International is the first Studio album from hip-hop artist Ak'Sent. However, it was only released in Japan.It features the first single, 'Zingy'.

One listen to the tongue-twisting rhymes of "Zingy", the first single off Ak'Sent's debut album, International, and you may notice, this is not your ordinary newcomer. For one thing, this fresh-faced MC is a she. And another reason: she's 18 years old. But as anyone who gets to know Ak'Sent (Krystle Johnson) soon discovers, there's much more to this unassumingly petite girl than meets the eye. Capitol Records recognized Ak'Sent's star power immediately, signing the then 16-year-old only a day after seeing her perform at a Los Angeles showcase. Sure, the LA native had an impressive resume for her age - dance training with Debbie Allen and Lula Washington, stints in several R&B-based girl groups - but it was her fierce flow which truly wowed the room. "I feel like rap is something that's in you," says Ak'Sent. "It's a natural thing that can't be taught. Someone can learn how to sing, but rapping is from the soul." Because of her sheer determination to do things on her own, something the half-African-American, half-Latina Ak'Sent had grown accustomed to having lost her father to gang life and her mother to welfare, she was given room to grow and experiment in the studio, both vocally and musically. "I told myself, I'm not going to sound like everybody else," she says. "I'm not just another female rapper. I want to set a tone." To help her find the sound she was looking for, Ak'Sent teamed up with an undiscovered, Miami-based production team, The Jugganauts, on six of the album's tracks. "They had a real Caribbean feel," she explains. "So most of the album is percussion-based -- a lot of drums." The pairing turned out to be the perfect fit, as the addictive dancehall beat of "Zingy" proves. "I took the track home to see what I could come up with," Ak'Sent recalls. "The next day, they added the hook and it was so freaking tight. It was exactly what I wanted: something I'd never heard before." It was Ak'Sent's idea to recruit Reggae icon Beenie Man to round out "Zingy," as it was to enlist a choir of neighborhood kids for the title track "International." "I was a really big Jay-Z fan," Ak'Sent explains. "I loved how he had kids singing on 'It's a Hard Knock Life.' I really felt that innocence that you get from kids so early in their life so I got some local 10-year-olds into the studio and they were psyched. I told them, 'You guys are going to get a check when the album comes out, so you better start thinking about saving your money!" Also contributing on International is the legendary DJ Quik, who blessed Ak'Sent with his production skills on the aggressive vibe on "#1." As far as featured guests are concerned, enlisting big names wasn't a priority for Ak'Sent. "I really wanted it to be about me," she says. "That's why I did the majority of background vocals. Unless it's a male voice, everything on the album is pretty much me." In life, as in her music, Ak'Sent has been flying solo for as long as she can remember. At age four, her father died in a gang shooting. He, too, was an aspiring rapper. "Back in the days of pop-locking and the big gold ropes, that was his era, he was into all that," she says. "He was influenced by the streets." But Ak'Sent is careful not to glorify his lifestyle of choice. "I think there's a lot more going on in our neighborhoods than who has the best shoes and the biggest chain. But it's hard to face the truth, to understand why women are throwing their kids in the trash can or prostituting themselves." Simply put, says Ak'Sent, "I saw a lot of things I didn't want to see." In what was certainly a difficult decision for her mother, Ak'Sent was sent to live with her grandparents in LA's South Central district, where she was raised on gospel music (rap and music videos were frowned upon in the house) and church values. But with that change in environment came a whole new set of challenges. "Being Black and Mexican in the hood, that was a struggle," she explains. "I had coarse hair and looked different and wondered where I fit in." But my two cultures both taught me all about the importance of family and to appreciate what you have. To tell her story, Ak'Sent penned "My Life," a song she dedicates to her dad. "He inspired me to pursue rapping after I began reading all his rhymes and stories that we saved. This is my chance to help my family start a new life outside of the struggles we all went through." But even with a record deal in hand, Ak'Sent acknowledges that being a successful female rapper in today's hip hop world is no small task. Still, she's up for the challenge. "It's not easy being a girl in a man's business like Missy Elliott or Queen Latifah," she says. "Guys have always dominated hip hop, while girls tend to go more R&B. But there are so many Beyonce out there right now. I'm really proud of myself for sticking with hip-hop." But even more important to Ak'Sent is that she be a good example "without being too negative," she adds. "I think there are other ways to get your point across. Besides, I wasn't raised like that. I think my grandma would be proud."


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