Akinyele can't keep from chuckling while answering questions over the phone. On his way to Miami, he's not feeling any of the usual artist-turned-road-warrior stress.
Maybe it's the 15 exotic dancers he's rolling with on his tour bus. Maybe it's the thought of meeting up with 10 more when he reaches his destination ("I have girls in every town," he says).
"This is every weekend," laughs Ak, who's out promoting his new album, Anakonda. "Straight adultism. Lil' Bow Wow and Romeo can not get on this bus! Right now, my whole gimmick is staying on the road and running with the girls."
Ak, who said he owns a "ghetto fabulous" strip club in New York, keeps a smile on his face by staying constantly surrounded by women, whether in or out the studio.
"I'm just having fun right now," he said, laughing again. "I went from Akinyele to Aknel (his abbreviated nickname) to Benny Hill."
The native of Queens' Lefrak City neighborhood has indeed undergone a metamorphosis since debuting in 1993 with the underground classic Vagina Diner. Filled with conceptual cuts like the tale of domestic abuse "No Exit" and freestyle battle-rap tracks like "The Bomb," Ak and his crewmembers which among others consisted of producer/MC the Large Professor and a teenage, pre-Illmatic Nas gained reps as some of the deadliest newcomers. However, like Nas would learn a year later with his debut, sometimes the greatest rhyme-book material doesn't translate into record sales.
So Ak discovered a new niche instead of the gutter, the MC directed his lyrics toward the bedroom.
"I knew [Vagina Diner] was supposed to blow up, but it didn't. Then with the "Put It in Your Mouth" song, ... I go everywhere and I can perform it."
Ak's referring to his still-popular 1996 oral sex anthem that proved you don't have to get major airplay, push units or chart in Billboard to have a major hit on your hands. Off the strength of the underground mix-tape circuit and club play, "Put It in Your Mouth" rejuvenated Ak's career and established his new mic modus operandi: sex songs. Still, he hasn't totally abandoned his earlier approach.
"I first came out with 'The Bomb' and all that, ... [and] when it comes to that type of stuff, I still love it. I feel like I'm the best at that. That's my forte. I'm about to work on another album like that with my man Large Professor called Strictly Platonic. I'm gonna give them one more album of serious rhyming before I get out of this sh--. That's gonna be the last one."
Ak's also evolving into somewhat of an entrepreneur. Anakonda, which is the name of his album and its accompanying home video of concert footage and music videos, is the first release on Ak's Aktapuss Records and the second release from his Go-Rilla film company (the first was his 1999 comedy "Aktapuss").
"I'm not one of those artists that get crazy radio play," he said, "so the independent route is basically for me. Everything I done been on my own, so I was like, 'Let's get paid for it.'"
With titles like "Eat Pu---," "Bomb Pu---" and "Spread Your Legs," Nyele isn't fooling himself that his July 24 release is going push 7 million units like his St. Louis namesake. But he does know that as the boss of the company he makes a higher percentage of the dough.
"I have my own film company, so it ain't costing nothing to throw these things up," he said nonchalantly. "I'm a franchise player right now."
Ak recently added porn legend Heather Hunter to his team. He plans to release her rap record early next year.
"Big had his Lil' Kim, the Firm had their Foxy Brown, Trick Daddy has his Trina, and Ak needs his f---ing Heather."
Fittingly enough, Ak said the two met at a brothel last year after Hunter performed one of her sex-laced shows.
"She said, 'I'm thinking about rapping,'" Ak recalled. "I said, 'Sh--, do you want to sing [sex] songs? I could help.' Who better to talk about that than her? It's self-explanatory why she was hand and glove with me."
As for just how close the two actually are, Ak said they're just friends. He joked that he's got a rule "not to f--- the help, financially or literally."