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Let him work it 

Akil Dasan is not your usual reality TV star — he won’t fade into oblivion now that his show has aired. You can trust us on that one.

Some may know Dasan from this past winter’s UPN reality spectacle, The Road to Stardom with Missy Elliot. The show featured 11 ambitious artists living together in a less-than-stellar tour bus, traveling the country and vying for a contract with Elliot’s record label. It was an “urban” American Idol on wheels. Dasan didn’t win the competition, but his versatility as a musician was evident throughout each of the show’s challenges, battles and performances.

The TV exposure seems to have jump-started the budding star’s career by giving him a prime-time national audience, but by no means does it define him as an artist.

The Philadelphia native began his career as the lead emcee for L.M. Mental, a Philly hip-hop group that was featured in XXL magazine and nominated in Philadelphia City Paper as one of the top three local hip-hop acts in 2000. Now living in Harlem, Dasan regularly plays at some of New York’s most popular live venues — including Harlem’s Apollo Theater, the jazz club Smoke, Irving Plaza, Joe’s Pub and the Nuyorican Poets Café — with his backing jazz band Somanetic.

And while Dasan has much of the usual energy that its hip-hop devotees flock to, this kid’s live shows are anything but typical fare. Aside from his layered rap-meets-beat-box-meets-guitar musings, break dancing is a trademark of Dasan’s shows. He’s been known to get down on even the most questionable of barroom floors. Crowds love it.

As it turns out, not winning the development deal with Elliot was probably a blessing in disguise. He’s already shared the stage with such luminaries as the Roots, Black Eyed Peas, Jill Scott and Blackalicious. Besides, Dasan’s music doesn’t neatly fit into the narrow vision that reality TV embraces.

Dasan’s road to stardom? Color it less traveled.


Friday, May 13, at the Trolley Stop, 8820 Pelham Rd., Taylor; 313-292-6464. 18 and over only.

Braden Ruddy is a Metro Times editorial intern. Send comments to

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