It’s very unlikely you’ve missed the chorus of voices alerting you to why the upcoming solar eclipse is important and special. One of Portland’s most exciting hip-hop artists, Rasheed Jamal, has a new batch of songs and plans to use this momental celestial event to drop his new album INDIGO CHILD (U Ain’t The Only 1!) on this day of darkness and light. If you’re familiar with hip-hop at all, once you hear Jamal, you'll be able to tell how much work goes into his songcraft.
After a time of relative quiet since his 2015 record, Sankofa, Jamal found life pushing him to share his unreleased artistic labors with the world. When explaining the universe’s pull on this next project that was to become INDIGO CHILD, Jamal writes, “I’ve had about six close deaths occur this year. Ten-plus over the past five years. The most recent being my little cousin, Kquagie Green, on June 26, 2017, and my homeboy, Derek Duvall, on July 8, 2017. At this point I just feel like letting go of some of the music I have had on my laptop along with some new emotions I’ve tapped into recently. To be honest with you, I think I’m such a perfectionist with this music because I do so much of it on my own that I end up shelving myself. I have a lot of people that look up to me or find inspiration in things that I say or do, so this is like cleaning out the closet I guess.”
It turns out Jamal’s closet is really cool.
The record sees Jamal revealing new work with former Portland resident Glenn Waco on “Muddy Waters.” Of it, Jamal says, “I wanted to do something that incorporated the popular electronic sound that’s defining this current phase of rap music. I’m fan of Pablo Picasso and he had phases. Yellow. Rose. Etc. So, I tend to view music from the lens of trying to push certain expectations out of the way. I don’t place limitations on myself.”
“Muddy Waters” was recorded at Momentum Studios in SW Portland with friend Zebulon Dak, who has a long history with local hip-hop. Wanting this track “to be freewheeling,” Jamal says, “I finished this song last summer and it only had my verses on it. I hit up Glenn [Waco] to drop a verse on it while he was in L.A., so he hit me with a reference track via text, and did exactly what I knew he would do. Give these mfs hell on a verse to close it out!!”
The track production features a deep bassline—the kind that feels good to the gut while adding extra backbone to the drum kicks. The synth line dances eerily back and forth while the tastefully arranged trap hi-hat tactfully hammers out its triplet pattern. It's the perfect palette for Jamal’s truths, slant truths, slant rhymes and perfect rhymes alike. As he belts out, “I’m intelligent, so I ain’t gotta act hard, grew up fist fighting, body slamming in the backyard, yeah,” it’s a clear declaration of his prowess and passion as an artist that goes hand-in-hand with an ironclad dedication to his fighting spirit.
Jamal is ready to use his new album as a means to illuminate and inspire the world starting with himself. “INDIGO CHILD (U Ain’t The Only 1!) is going to drop during the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, because I wanna be able to have that conversation with my family and friends when I go home, and I’m also deep into metaphysics, astronomy, astrology, and all that good shit,” he explains. “I feel like there are people out there who will use this time period to wreak havoc on the aetheric plane in order to warp the minds and spirits of Americans and the people within its borders, so we have to do our part by being proactive in creating our own narrative and using the science of the cosmos for the greater good. That’s how I’m feeling,” he laughs.
“Maybe I connect dots that shouldn’t be connected, but the constant headlines about ‘fire and fury’ and with those poor, young, misguided white gentlemen marching with those cute torches in VA smells like a fire ritual to beat the drums of some impending conflict that is the result of manipulation of our most trusted industries and offices,” he continues. “So, I’m going to use my life force and lightsaber to uplift the proletariat. I’m more of a spiritualist and philosopher than a political guy as well, so when I say real shit, I’m aiming for your heart, not your pockets—even though they need to pay me every time on time because the game is to be sold.”
Listen to “Muddy Waters” now, and after you watch the moon swallow the sun this Monday, find and listen to the rest of Rasheed Jamal’s new album and let it inspire you to make your own narrative. Dark times can be an eclipse and an eclipse can be an awakening.