Wednesday, October 28, 2009

REVIEW: Raashan Ahmad Soul Power

This one's straight off the press via This prolific Crown City Rocker is out with the solo album. Breathe in the Bay Area ether will ya?

Raashan Ahmad

Soul Power

Raashan Ahmad has released one of those interim albums. You know, the ones that musicians record while they’re on tour promoting another album (in Raashan Ahmad’s case his debut album The Push) because they’re tired of performing the same old ish. This new album, Soul Power, is weirdly orchestral and weirdly Oakland; the beats are more like instrumentation, and Raa’s sporadic delivery just screams “Bay Area.” All this makes Soul Power a regional album, diggable for the Hip-Hop world at large, but only truly appreciated by the natives.

Newly branched out on his own, Ahmad has seen much success as a solo artist. In Soul Power, he carries on the tradition of his old band, Crown City Rockers, with the album’s symphonic production. Tracks like “Celebrate” shy away from the drum-heavy beats that characterize most Hip-Hop backdrops. Ahmad rides that particular cut with some charisma—I refuse to say “swagger”—giving a playful touch to the track’s major scale horns. Lyrically, Ahmad provides colorful content that teeters the boundary between poetic and absurd. In “Patience,” he rhymes, “Since Mission One with my main man Mo/ Roxbury, Boston, freestyling in the snow.” His words have a childish sincerity, profound in their simplicity.

Raashan Ahmad does slip up at times. He suffers from the “I have delusional grandeurs of making club smashes” syndrome that afflicts its share of alternative rappers. An example of this is the song “Lambda” with those discordant alarms that mainstream heads like these days. This joint is deplorable for the simple fact that Ahmad willfully participates in this whole “snap your fingers” phenomenon. The wannabee status results in fast-paced flops like “Cornbread,” which sounds like “Boots” Riley doing a soundtrack for insert name of 70’s blaxploitation movie here. Needless to say, the track may leave some listeners underwhelmed.

Still, with all its drawbacks, Soul Power offers an enchanting listen. The album stays true to its theme and bumps with a classic feel almost all the way through. Even Raa’s throaty delivery is endearing. So, to whom it may concern, Mr. Ahmad does still have a career.

-Sidik Fofana

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