78°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Roots in Dorchester: The professional rap career of Akrobatik

Akrobatiks+album+cover+for+Built+to+Last%2C+which+will+be+released+this+month.

Akrobatik’s album cover for “Built to Last,” which will be released this month.

Local MC and Professor’s Assistant at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Jared Bridgeman, most commonly goes by his rap name, Akrobatik.
Akrobatik describes his style of hip hop as “reflective”—he explains that “life” and the backdrop he’s working with work to inspire his music. Akrobatik admitted to being inspired by many things, ranging from his environment to other MCs. He revealed that the beauty and ugliness of the world inspires him, but he was also very inspired by some of his favorite MCs, which include KRS-One, Public Enemy, Rakim, and LL Cool J.
At the age of 10, Akrobatik knew that he wanted to pursue a career in hip hop; by 14, he was writing hip-hop songs of his own. During this time, his older buddies, who recorded their songs in a studio, were willing to give him the last half hour of their studio time so that he could get a feel of recording rap music. This was soon followed by Akrobatik’s first public performance ever, which took place at the Katz Plaza in Roxbury when he was only 15 years old.
Just one year later when he was 16, Akrobatik had his first big show, where he performed amongst hip-hop artist Rob Base (of the well known song, “It takes two to make a thing go right, it takes two to make it outta sight”). Along with this performance, Akrobatik has had many proud accomplishments in his rap career thus far; but if you asked him, he would tell you that his real biggest accomplishment was his opportunity to teach a class on “The History and Practice of Hip Hop” here at UMass Boston.
This class is instructed by Professor Rachel Rubin and Akrobatik. She came to him with the idea of this class after he had come in as a guest in her pop culture class in 2011. Akrobatik comments on how important it is to teach kids the fundamentals of hip hop in order to fully understand it, saying, “having mentors in your life are a big part.”
“I wear that as a badge of honor,” the MC explained. “I can’t express enough how special it is being part of the UMass community.”
Akrobatik never had the full college experience himself, although he spent a little time at Northeastern University and completed one semester here at UMass Boston. This had given the young MC time to travel the world in pursuit of his career. He explained that “seeing the world” was an accomplishment all on its own.
Akrobatik discloses on his new album, “Built To Last,” which is expected to be released sometime this month. What makes this album different than his prior albums is the fact that he is releasing it independently, meaning he is not going through a record label to promote his album.
Instead, he is using a website called SPITdigital.com. The website states, “With over 40 years’ experience, SPITdigital is in the business of taking artists to the next level. At a time when major labels have cut back to nothing, and Artist development is nonexistent we believe there needs to be a place where Artists and their music matters. SPITdigital is that place.”
Akrobatik points out that using this website will make his music more visible than it has been in the past. However, most of Akrobatik’s music is available on iTunes and can be listened to freely on the “Akrobatik” Pandora station.
With the development of music on the internet, the hip-hop world has changed dramatically. Akrobatik described that “reputation was everything” before the internet took over, and that the internet “levels the playing field” for everyone out there trying to be an MC. He admits that nowadays, “college radio is old news.”
Akrobatik says being an MC from Boston has held him back in his career, explaining that most of the shows in Boston are “all imported talents.” He expressed his frustration on Twitter: “It’s a perfect example of how being FROM here makes it more likely that you will be overlooked, and the perfect forum to say goodbye.” In the tweet, Akrobatik was referring to a fellowship at Harvard University that he had applied for but unfortunately was not chosen. He further explains on Twitter: “If what I bring to the table can’t get me recognized in a scene I helped build, what chance does anyone else have? #Boston #Harvard.”
Akrobatik’s music has appeared on HBO’s “The Wire,” ESPN’s “Playmakers,” and in films such as “Date Movie” and “Wholetrain.” He is also featured on Snacky Chan’s album “Part of the Nation,” as well as in the games NBA Live ’06, Frequency, Need for Speed Most Wanted, and PlayStation 2 game Amplitude, where he raps in the song, “Out the Box,” as well as providing voiceovers for tutorials. Akrobatik’s music is also going to be featured in a new 2014 video game which has not yet been disclosed to the public, so keep your ears out for it!
Akrobatik’s albums are listed here: