Shaheedullah and Stereotypes

Artist: Ali Shaheed MuhammadTitle: Shaheedullah and StereotypesRating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jozen Cummings

If there were anymore proof that Hip-Hop needs to get A Tribe Called Quest back together, then look no further than Ali Shaheed Muhammad’s solo debut, Shaheedullah and Stereotypes. The former DJ for Tribe and R&B super group Lucy Pearl has finally ventured out on his own and the results are less than impressive.

The problem with Shaheedullah and Stereotypes is not the music itself, but rather the artists he chooses to use to put his work on display. You would think that someone who has musical relationships with artists like Q-Tip and Raphael Saadiq would have a higher standard for artists, but unfortunately with a roster of no-name artists, the album falls short in every possible way.

What Ali attempts to do is blend the styles of both his former groups into one album, and in both areas he doesn’t even sound close to a replica of his younger days. When he goes Hip-Hop on songs like “Tight,” rapper Kay sounds unremarkable as he attempts to spit positive rhymes using an incomprehensible flow. When he goes R&B with newcomer Sy Smith on “(They Can’t) Define Our Love” Ali makes a case for needing to make peace with Lucy Pearl’s songstress, Dawn Robinson.

Shaheedullah and Stereotypes is nothing more than Muhammad’s attempt at making a musical statement he can truly call his own, and unfortunately it will fail to resonate with any Lucy Pearl or Tribe fan hoping to hear a reincarnation of Muhammad’s former groups. But perhaps it isn’t entirely Muhammad’s fault. Today’s backpack rap is now a music industry stock-and-trade, and it is a style that Muhammad pioneered with the help of Q-Tip and Phife Dawg. Which forces us to bear the question: Should an album like Shaheedullah and Stereotypes be chastised because it doesn’t come close to old Tribe?

The answer is no. Whether you want to compare Muhammad’s debut to his work with Tribe or Lucy Pearl, it is a disappointment, period.

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