In the world of Hip Hop, it's usually a "who has the biggest mouth" game, spitting lyrics mostly about hating, banging, drugs, whatever. Every now and then we get someone like Talib Kweli who has real mainstream potential AND writes lyrics that speak about faith and hope in things other than selling drugs. Don't get us wrong, we love a good jam on lollipops or whatever. But let's just say, to hear the debut album from Raashan Ahmad is like a breath of fresh beats.
"Can't we get a real hip-hop show?" spits Raashan, and even during his intro track (appropriately titled "Hello") we're thinking; we might just be getting one. You might recognize him as the resident MC of the jazz hop group Crown City Rockers (they kind of remind us of The Roots). And this album could be a Black Thought solo project with it's airtight rhymes and brilliant flow, but the production values seem to be a style that is strictly Raashan.
Previous Jurassic 5 MC Chali 2na makes an appearance on "City Feel Proud", and Raashan takes off in directions we've never heard before. It's kind of like a witch doctor beat, tribal and simple, but still really potent. And of course, the rhymes are so smooth the words melt together. And everyone has to nod to the "giggity giggity" in the middle. That's just good stuff.
The whole album continues on this note, with Raashan taking it up and bringing it down with poignant rhymes and effortless beats. Tribute tracks like "Give Thanks" move just as hard as the rest of the album, even though similar sentiments fall flat on other records. When Raashan spits hope and love, it doesn't sound corny or trite, it sounds cool. And the beginning of "Yusef" isn't canned... the song is a tribute to his son's birth, and the beginning features a soundclip from the actual birth. Little Yusef is going to have a funny story for his friends when he gets older.
But he is lucky as well, to get such a sincere shout out, and to have a current hip-hop trailblazer as a dad. Fans of CCR will find plenty of the flow you know and love, as well as something different and unique. And if you think that Lil' John is a good rapper, besides needing counseling, you need check out the "real hip-hop show." You'll be happy you did. -joe puglisi