Amad-Jamal has been a part of the LA hip hop scene since the early ‘90s, first recording as part of the Soul Survivors along with DJ Khalil and RaSudan Daaood. After recording with groups and on other artists’ tracks, Amad-Jamal has finally been given a chance to shine as a solo artist. It may have taken him a while to get here, but he’s displaying plenty of staying power with this album.

Amad-Jamal has worked with Dilated Peoples before, and his album definitely fits nicely alongside their work. The production features a mixture of sampling and live instrumentation. Much like DP, it oscillates between a menacing G-Funk sound and a laid-back soul/gospel feeling. Jamal finds a good balance with all of it, and there are only a few tracks that don’t quite mesh with the rest of the album. For the majority of the album, though, I found myself turning the volume up and driving around to a groove that forced me to nod my head, which is always a good sign.

As an emcee, Amad-Jamal quickly establishes that we should have been paying attention to him for years. He’s a smart guy, and he uses this album to address issues like race, police brutality, drug trafficking, sentencing, and the music industry. He’s got a cadence that reminds me of C-Ray Walz, delivering lots of short phrases and using a call and response structure. However, where C-Ray often crutches on this style and doesn’t always make coherent songs, Jamal puts together some great narratives. He doesn’t play into any clichés, and engages in a lively dialogue when talking about subjects like the intersection of race and drugs. That he manages to cover all of this subject matter without sounding preachy and provides a personal emotional connection as well speaks to his talents as an emcee.

While I’m disappointed that Amad-Jamal has been working in relative anonymity for all this time, I’m glad we finally get this chance to know him as a solo artist. He’s got plenty say, a good head on his shoulders, and a way with a groove. Don’t sleep on him any longer.