Hasan Salaam – Children of God review

Hasan Salaam: Children of God

8.5/10

written by James Smith

In today’s hip-hop climate, it’s very rare that an emcee truly expresses himself without delivering their material in a pretentious or contrived manner. Enter Hasan Salaam.

In 2005, he released his debut album, Paradise Lost which was very impressive; however, you could tell that he was a naturally talented artist that still had room for growth. After excessive touring and releasing mixtapes, Salaam is back with his stellar follow-up, Children Of God.

The gravely-voiced emcee once again narrates tales of racism, oppression, and maintaining his Islamic faith with sharper concepts and better executed songs compared to his first release. Angel Dust featuring Brand Nubians’ Lord Jamar is an immediate favorite with its laid-back but bouncy beat matched with a catchy hook. He tells of a troubled woman who resorts to stripping and prostitution to get what she wants out of life. Children Of God seems like a continuation of the aforementioned song which deals more with the consequences of how the woman lives her life. The melancholy piano loop definitely adds to the mood.

Songs such as Kingdom of Heaven and The Reign (Wudu) is where he openly shows his vulnerability to the listener by expressing his struggle of maintaining his faith in Islam without sounding presumptuous. He remorsefully confesses the wrongs in his life and his striving to become a better person by practicing his religion. Someplace is another serious cut that deals with gentrification, oppression, and assimilation. He raps: “We’ve just become a clone of our oppressor, assimilate to their ways and settle for lesser.”

To be frank, there are too many well-written songs on this album to describe. The lyrics are completely well thought-out and the beats simply bang with crunchy drums and head-nodding loops but, of course, every album has flaws. Suga is a generic love song that could have been left off. It seems as if the artist tried a bit too hard to round the album off with the usual “chick song.” Also The Downrock just ruins the mood of the album for some reason. Salaam and his Fifth Column affiliate, Rugged and Raw, rhyme in almost double time to catch a fast paced beat but it just doesn’t work and the hook sounds a bit amateurish at best. Simply put, it just seems out of place.

Despite the very few shortcomings, Hasan Salaam delivers a sleeping giant of an album. I once had the opportunity of interviewing Salaam after his release of Paradise Lost. I remember asking him what his immediate plans for his next album were. He responded by saying that he wanted to take his songwriting skills to the next level and release an even better project than his last. He definitely delivered while exceeding my expectations.

Hasan Salaam - Children of God review

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