Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Amir Sulaiman - The Medinan Openings (Review and Free Download)

If you want to hear intelligence, humility and strength manifested through the art of rhyming
and story telling from an incredibly gifted MC, then Amir Sulaiman is for you.

It’s hard to tell if Amir Sulaiman is a poet or a rapper. But he harkens back to a time where the line was always blurred. Rakim comes to mind. KRS-One comes to mind. Wu-Tang Clan comes to mind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing him to them, not at all. But the energy is shared. Sulaiman brings that same energy that makes you question the limits of this incredible art form. Let’s be honest, kids today and perhaps in the future won’t be reading as many books, they’ll be listening to music. And this artist is blurring the lines, bridging the (perceived) gap between poetry and rap, putting his own flavor into the words he says and the manner in which he says them. As an architect draws a line, as a carpenter chooses his tools, so Amir Sulaiman devours a beat.

Sulaiman’s voice is powerful. Whether angry or sad, his voice is powerful. Among the plethora of emotions aside from anger or sadness, he is also celebratory. He’s celebrating the occasion of bringing his message forth to you, the listener. And it’s a symbiotic relationship. He relies on your energy just as much as you rely on his energy. The Medinan Openings is an album I’d like to see live, because it is a rich experience listening to it. Sulaiman commands your attention to the music and to the words.

Perhaps Sulaiman’s album is great because there’s nothing that sounds like it. He’s not mimicking anybody else. He is carving out his own lane, his own sound and style. Which is the essence of Hiphop: it is poetry, it is spoken word, but you have to have style. With this in mind, Sulaiman is not lacking any tools to bring forth his perspective. It borders on spoken word all the while walking the line of spitting great bars, rapping and talking to you as if you’re sharing a cup of coffee or a beer at the café or bar around the corner. But he’s not talking at you. He’s opening the dialogue, sparking a conversation, talking with you in mind.

On the opening track, “Secret Art,” Sulaiman raps: “Only if the human beings knew who the human beings are, my Lord.” And after that line, it is clear Sulaiman is on to something. He could easily fall prey to the pompous spewing of “knowledge” that he claims to have and assumes the listener does not possess. Yea, he could easily have done that. But instead, he continues humbly including people who he feels attracted to. He continues: “I’ve got a soft spot for widows and killers, for orphans and oracles, for saints and sinners, for prophets and niggas, every shore is a picture, every boat is a sentence, every sound is a scripture.” With those few lines, Sulaiman lets you know his heart is focused on unity, resilience and togetherness. He’s not shouting from the mountain top. Rather, he’s in the trenches, he’s letting you know who he feels affinity for, therefore who he represents and who he’s speaking to.

On the Brother Ali assisted track, “Herenow,” Sulaiman says, “I ain’t God, but his image. It’s in my genes true religion, true and livin.” With that pun, it is clear Sulaiman has studied this art form. He’s student. He’s teacher. This track also hosts the best hook on the entire album. This is where his voice reminds me of KRS-One. Sonically, it also sounds a bit like Rick Ross. So there’s some familiarity with his voice. But that’s not a comparison (again). His sound is his own. I can’t say that enough. There was nothing like his sound that existed anywhere in Hiphop until he did it. By now it is apparent that Sulaiman cares not what label you throw at him. Poet? Rapper? Song writer? Whatever you want to call him, it is clear that his main goal is quality. With a product this great, does it matter what box he fits in?

 What is the downside of this album? Every track has 5 stars in my iTunes, so that should say something. What is the point of that engine sound on the beginning and conclusion of “Catatonic”? There are a few occasions where I felt like the rhyme strayed from the overall meaning of the track, like he said it just to rhyme. But I’m reaching. There is no filler. At 9 songs, that is a given. There is no song you can put on in the background while you’re doing something else. Is that a downside? I suppose it depends on who you ask.

I don’t want to sound like I’m working for Sulaiman or just trying to get you to download this. But really, I can’t find many faults with this release, and I did search. I enjoy being inspired, challenged and provoked. If you’re like me, you will love this album. If you’re not like me, and you need background music, steer clear. But if you enjoy charisma, soothing and intriguing beats, and high energy rhymes, this is for you. Follow the link below and you will be able to download this and his previous releases if you hear this one and are left wanting more.

Some highlights:
“If I don’t have peace with me, how can I have peace with God?”

“Everything in this life is cursed except for those who remember, so I open the universe and wrote a poem in the center, a post-it note, you’ll hold it close like your coat in the winter”

“Call me a lyricist, but I’m a synthesis. Between an abolitionist and a quantum physicist.”

“I’m a master without P, I’ve got no limit.”

“A load this heavy make Atlas look like an actress”

“If you’re broken hearted, it’s fine sweetheart, here, use mine”

“When it’s all done, my life will sit between awesome and arson”

“Knowledge reigns supreme so my mind’s still criminal”

“They know the power of language so they tap my line”

“Sweetheart, I’m from a class of men, and in this class of mine, the mind is sacred, we true n livin’”

To download Amir Sulaiman's "The Medinan Openings," for FREE, click here.

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