|Supreme Aftermath by Blak Madeen|
This album, that was released in January by label Rhyme Dawah, was without surprise completely ignored by pop music culture and even left tragically undiscussed by many recognized hip-hop outlets for similar reasons. The Islamic Boston duo made up of Al-J and Yusuf Abdul-Mateen are known for their socially progressive ideas and their exposure of real world ills, many times initiated by the U.S. and its allied countries, so do these facts have anything to do with what seems like their commercial gloss-over? Yes indeed, and it's truly a shame because Supreme Aftermath is classic hip-hop fire.
To say that Al-J and Yusuf are backpack rappers would be just wrong. Blak Madeen have backpacks, belt bags, cargo pants and utility jackets with extra pockets packed with rhymes that would make Drake and J. Cole crap themselves. The two spit hardcore verses that are amazing and outstanding, easily said here but not easily made or put on wax the way these pros have done it. They are focused on building independent minds in themselves and in their fanbase, ones that cannot be swayed by the media and typically corrupt politicians. Not only that but it's extremely refreshing how they address foreign affairs, international conflict and religious disharmony, things so few emcees in the game rap about.
Al and Yusuf shine light on the hard harsh conditions of the oppressed classes around the world in "Long Way To Go" and the overbearing, outlandish actions done by the continental mega powers of this Earth to peoples in the Middle East in "Blood of Our Brothers." In "Words in Red," Shabazz The Disciple of Sunz of Man on the hook raps frankly and courageously on the hate and derision between the ill informed of various religions, and in "The Worst Part," the ultimate climax, they do what so many hip-hop heads wish they could hear more of and rap on a lot of interesting global phenomena: Sandy Hook, Hurricane Sandy, Obama's drone attacks, Israel fighting the Palestinians, the love for family and much more.
There are so many great lines here that quoting a few won't spoil the appetite of soon-to-listen readers. Just take a minute to think about the following ones: Coco Chanel won't deflect the flames in hell, mainstream media don't fight fair, I ain't watchin' CNN when I'm looking for the truth, the world don't move to the beat of one drum, murder and genocide in places you never heard, you can be my brother whether Jew or Christian. Do they hold any weight? It's impossible for them not to. Blak Madeen are shocking but compassionate also. They are dedicated to uncovering the truth as much as seizing upon the goodness there can be in life.
The heavily rock-based production sounds are the perfect match for the album's power lyrics. Skin Ced serves as the main producer though Teddy Roxpin, Sicknature, The Arcitype, and golden era notable Divine Styler from Brooklyn provide variety with fast intriguing piano, hard jazz and other samples, styles and flavors. The guest list is a little longer. In order of appearance, Blacastan, Gift of Gab, Cyrus Deshield, Divine Styler again but in guest mode, Planet Asia, G. Dot & Born, Shabazz The Disciple, Red Baren and Krumb Snatcha go bar for bar with our two main heroes and match their vocal unbelievability line for line in their respective tracks. Galaxies away from being radical Jihadis or anything of the like, Al-J and Yusuf bring a fair and enlightened Muslim perspective to Supreme Aftermath that takes their subgenre to the next level, over philosophical planes established by Sunz of Man, Army of the Pharaohs, Jedi Mind Tricks and a few others, groups that are also persuaded towards theories of the Mid East and Near East regions. In Supreme Aftermath, Blak Madeen tell us what is really going on in the world exactly how they should tell it.
5 out of 5 stars
(Review by Alex originally appeared on Examiner.com on March 7, 2016.)