Amad-Jamal: Barely Hanging On: The Chronicles Of A Brotha Like Rodney King

Amad-Jamal: Barely Hanging On: The Chronicles Of A Brotha Like Rodney King
Los Angeles rapper, Amad-Jamal has a backpack pedigree. He is named after jazz legend, Ahmad Jamal. He attended Clark Atlanta University with Speech and Saul Williams. His debut album, Barely Hanging On: The Chronicles Of A Brotha Like Rodney King, features live drums and bass. With all that said, it’s no wonder Amad-Jamal is drawing comparisons to artists like Talib Kweli and Mos Def.
Amad is obviously not interest in spitting typical rap lyrics. Even a track that sounds like it should be gangsta like “Hood Tales” is far from it. On “Hood Tales”, Amad-Jamal showcases his storytelling abilities. His storytelling reminds me of Common‘s “Testify”. On the track, Amad-Jamal tells a tale of a robbery gone wrong, but unlike Common’s song the outcome is a little more sunny on “Hood Tales”. Of course while telling this tale he also references Billie Holiday, the everglades, and his melanin, just to make sure you know he is educated.
While Amad-Jamal has some storytelling chops, I still do not think it is his strong suit. My favorite track on the album is “Believe That”. The track features fellow Los Angeles rappers, Dilated Peoples. The track is basically about California and its just nice to hear the three proficient emcees painting a picture of the west coast over a well produced beat.
Maybe it is just me, but on albums that feature atypical rap lyrics, I occasionally miss a little of modern hip hop swagger. Sometimes it feels like Amad-Jamal is going out of his way to not engage in any braggadocio and it just seems to me that it would not hurt. But besides that minor complaint, Barely Hanging On: The Chronicles Of A Brotha Like Rodney King is a more than proficient debut album. The album does everything a debut should: it showcases Amad-Jamal’s skills while defining who he is as a rapper and a person. It’s nice to see a rapper with such a clear vision of who he is.
Rating: 7.7/10
MP3: Amad-Jamal featuring Dilated Peoples “Believe That”
Buy: iTunes