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Album Review: Hasan Salaam ‘Life In Black & White’

Posted: May 4th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Independent | No Comments »

Hasan Salaam Life In Black And White ArtworkWhen it comes to race it is a subject that people are afraid to discuss. It has been a topic that naturally draws lines between people and divides them. This causes many to decide to put issues involving race out of their minds for fear of saying the wrong thing and being viewed as a bigot especially in our judge-first culture. However, by not speaking about something there is no motive to push forward and grow. This creates a situation where philosophies and attitudes become stagnant as no one will take a chance. No one, that is, except Hasan Salaam.

Life in Black & White deals mostly with race. The album begins with a unique intro, “Definition” that has several different voices, offer definitions and connotations for the words black and white. This immediately sets the tone for the kind of societal questioning that is in store.

The next several songs delve more into this main idea including recent examples such as the descriptions of police shootings in the song, “Jericho”. The track that really strikes the listener is, “Half Breed”. Although it is just twenty-six seconds it perfectly illustrates an overlooked type of racism for people of a mixed race as they deal with prejudice from both blacks and whites. In addition, the track not only deals with the main concept it leads right into the next song, “Father’s Day” with the mention of the narrator’s family.

After, “Father’s Day”, the album begins to take on a new life. In the proceeding songs, societal problems are put on hold for a little while as Hasan just focuses on putting together line after line of lyrical excellence. “#OGJM” is a great example as he has a memorable chorus followed by verses of solid rhymes.

Once, “Like Silence” starts the album begins yet another phase. During this song, Hasan escapes the usual sound of the album with a different approach. This includes the strumming of a guitar and the terrific vocals of Kendal Good. It is a track that definitely stands out from the rest and one can only hope that these two collaborate again in the future as they complement each other well. Following this, Hasan goes right back to rapping about an array of problems he sees in the world. From, “Modern Warfare” showing the glorification of war to, “UnOrganized Religion” pointing out the hypocrisies in religion, it is all incredible. At the end, “Scars Over Scars” Hasan wraps up the album by saying that although there are problems in the world and his life he is grateful for everything he does have.

Overall, this album is enjoyable and thought provoking. The first five songs epitomized the title of Life in Black and White very well after that the central subject seemed to get lost at some points. It should be noted, though, that while Hasan was not talking about race he was discussing how war affects the nation as a whole or the unfair treatment of women in religion so it is not so much the lack of societal awareness, just the consistency of it. Even on the tracks that did not have the weight that others did they were still amazing listens. In the end, Hasan mixed rational discussion of sensitive issues with great raps and beats in only a way that he can achieve.

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