BOOYA! It seems I have turned up in a couple of end of year polls. Both at number 9. Weird.

CMU FAVOURITE ALBUM OF 2006 #9: Akira The Don - When We Were Young (Something In Construction) I can say for certain that I first came across Akira The Don via Mr Eddy Temple Morris, who played the brilliant single 'Clones' on his Xfm radio show aeons ago. From there I stumbled on the now somewhat legendary Akira The Don website, where I would regularly access his always good mixes, often spot on rantings and occasional bootlegs, while keeping an eye (well, ear really) on the slowly growing catalogue of original Akira tracks. With talk of a deal with US mainstream hip hop giants Interscope around about this time last year, I started to get rather excited about the prospect of a full length Akira The Don album, and a major label funded marketing campaign that would get Akira's brand of hip hop to the masses, certainly here and possibly across the Atlantic too. And with the right marketing campaign Akira should be huge, because he makes the kind of hip hop that has real mainstream potential (his tunes are always infectious, invariably dance-able, and more often than not a lot of fun), but with a lyrical attitude (and subject matter) that would ensure credibility (OK, on tracks like 'Thanks For All The AIDS' the latter might hinder the former, but in the main that's not the case). But alas, talk of a major label deal fell by the way side, though the good news was that release plans for the debut album went ahead anyway, and so we here at CMU were finally able to get our hands on the debut Akira The Don album. And boy what an album. Bringing together some of the tracks we'd sampled on the aforementioned website over the last eighteen months, but with a number of brand new tracks that are really special too, this is exactly the kind of album that the hip hop genre needs - and, to be honest, if anything the US scene more so than ours. Of course, the independent release, without a major label budget, meant that despite the mainstream potential, this album is yet to enjoy mainstream attention. That said, with the combined influence of the album, his live shows, and the aforementioned website, this is a man with a growing fan base, and a very dedicated fan base at that, so it wouldn't surprise me if the mainstream don't latch on here, eventually, through good old fashioned word of mouth rather than Universal's hip hop budget. Frankly, the mainstream are missing out until they do so. We caught up with Akira just as the album was being released a couple of months back, and if you missed the interview, check it out here and get yourself converted to the Don of UK hip hop.

Read our interview with Akira The Don at: http://www.thebeatsbar.co.uk/albumsoftheyear

Playlouder ALBUMS OF THE YEAR 2006: #9 When We Were Young Akira the Don

Nobody knew quite what to make of Akira the Don, and they still don't. While the focus seemed to be on the David and Goliath relationship the boy Adam had with the all-powerful Interscope, many took their eyes off the ball and forgot to give the music the attention it deserved. Idiosyncratic, honest, funny and occasionally tragic, 'When We Were Young' vividly mirrored the life of an artist, and was so real you could almost grab it.

Should you wish to, you can vote for the aforementioned opus in PlayLouder's reader's poll here.