The rise to international acclaim that Omar Akbar (AKA Labtekwon) has achieved in his long career as rapper, writer, and producer is an impressive story. Originally known best for what Alternative Press called "Old-school feelgood hip hop as heavy on the funk as on the lyrical science," his highly successful 2002 album Song of the Sovereign (Mush Records) compiled 17 tracks from his entire back catalog of selfreleased CD-Rs. After years of hard work, the huge nationwide tour for that album, along with cLOUDDEAD, and three other Mush artists put him on the U.S. map. Action Man insightfully noted at the time that he had "accomplished something sought after by many artists: integrity, respect and an underground following." Lab could easily have given in to the pressures of success and signed away his future to the label that had helped bring it to him - but he refused, not wanting to "cash in" on a caricature of what he was doing at that moment in time. Instead, he walked away to pursue his vision: a constantly evolving musical art form whose vibe is an unusual balance of beat-making, lyrical art, metaphysics, political context and afro-centric power. In the less than five years since that time he has created nearly ten more albums of material, including 2003's groundbreaking Hustlaz Guide to the Universe, which incorporated more free form jazz and more politicized lyrics, and 2004's Avant God, which explored hip hop's roots with live drums and an even angrier political stance. 2005 found Labtekwon dropping his first DVD, The Ghetto Dai Lai Llama, which offered up a 6-song sampling of stark streetscapes and graffiti narratives of Baltimore, and commentaries that showcased his unique hip-hop aesthetic. The DVD utilized inventive videography that stretches the boundaries of the medium, but more importantly it treated listeners to a visual component for his already acclaimed musical skills. For many of them who hadn't previously attended a live performance, this represented a first time to see him in action, including some of the hottest footage since 1982's acclaimed hip-hop culture documentary Wildstyle. After the release of the DVD, Labtekwon took more than a year to remix and complete additional tracks for The Ghetto Dai Lai Lama v.777. The final version includes new versions of four of the six songs on the DVD: "Real Emcee", "Uhnnn Huhnnn", "Black Boogie", and "Ghetto Wildflower," along with 19 other tracks, all clocking in at just over 72 minutes. With this CD, Baltimore's most internationally acclaimed MC makes his groundbreaking jump into experimental urban mainstream. After nearly twenty albums, Labtekwon still insists on doing things his way. Respect.