The Rise of Meaningwave Music

How Akira the Don created a powerful, new genre

Joseph Parrish
4 min readMay 11, 2019
Image Source: Rebel Wisdom

One of the latest, musical genres is Meaningwave, a branch of the wider Lofi style of music. By taking metered speech and mixing it with background hip hop, often of an original composition, we suddenly find that even lectures and famous speeches can become engrossing songs. Invented in large part by Akira the Don, whose works draw from the sayings of Alan Watts, Jordan Peterson, Elon Musk, and many others, Meaningwave allows listeners to get their musical fix while also consuming content that is uniquely informative, intellectual, and inspirational.

Although the genre is fairly novel, Akira has been in the music industry for a long time now. He made his first break as early as 2004, with Akira the Don’s First EP, which featured his famous “Drinking Song” that took the Internet by storm on Newgrounds. He continued his work as a rapper and a DJ, later releasing a collaborative album in 2006 with some of the most major names in the rapping industry, called When We Were Young. Despite enjoying modest success early on, his major claim to fame, over a decade later, is his pioneering work in the genre of Meaningwave.

Consciously or not, Meaningwave draws on multiple stylistic elements, which might be summarized as two parts nostalgic and one part modern. One part of the nostalgia comes from the lofi umbrella itself, whereby the “low fidelity” and scratchiness of the tracks is reminiscent of old tapes, radio broadcasts, and records. This is a kind of perennial nostalgia, something that is felt by the young and the old, holding a place in our collective memory similar to that of the trans-Atlantic accent and jazz.

The other piece of nostalgia is more relevant to millennials who constitute a major part of Akira’s audience. Meaningwave bears a striking resemblance to the old Toonami promos of the late 90s and early 2000s. These were strangely riveting commercials, largely because they were genuine musical tracks assembled with a high degree of professionalism. Perhaps the holy grail of these was Toonami’s Dreams, which, like the other promos, consisted of clips and dialogue from the programming block’s line-up of shows that were deftly weaved alongside a hip hop tune that evoked a pensive, ethereal wonder.

The modern element comes from the explosion of the popularity of podcasts. By drawing on source material from respected, intellectual figures, a full album of Meaningwave is not unlike a standard podcast of long-form discussion. With musical attributes carefully added, speech that might come off as stale or be worth only a single listen can become quite catchy and possess a great deal of replay value. Thus, when people are craving something like a Joe Rogan interview but want a dose of rhythm with it, there is now a product waiting for them. By utilizing so many appealing qualities so seamlessly, Akira has emerged as a new titan of the music world.

Akira credits the rise of media technology to much of his success. He has noted how the Internet’s favorable staging grounds for new creators allows the experimental (like Akira’s work) to reach a large-enough audience to sustain their creativity, bypassing the traditional oligarchs of the big music labels and the mainstream media generally. In a recent interview with his beloved Jordan Peterson, he noted on the irony of it, that even a figure such as PewdiePie, who is the biggest name on one of the biggest websites, is treated as “underground.”

He also attributes the success of his genre to a natural pendulum swing of the times. He senses that the rapid changes in technology, often faster than humans can adapt, has led to a rise in nihilistic thinking. Meaningwave, to Akira, is the antithesis to this, or at least an antithesis to this. Listeners not only get to groove to his songs; they can also ponder bigger questions of philosophy and science in the process. In this sense, Akira has the unusually dualistic role of creator (of his music) and distributor (of his chosen speakers). His fans can escape the usual, low-paying tedium of the post-2008 economy and the social unease of the post-9/11 world and can get a taste of the meaningful “good, ol’ days” that are evoked by the nostalgic elements of his music.

He is not done either. Akira is constantly producing more content, having released another Peterson remix only yesterday. While other artists of comparable fame are yet to be seen emulating the new style of music Akira has put out, it is clear that this Briton of humble origins has made a lasting impact on the musical tastes of this generation. Where the Intellectual Dark Web has typically consisted of traditional academics with Ph. D’s, Akira has instead made his entry into this pantheon as an outstanding artist.