Band of the Day

2012.02.24

Raashan Ahmad

Intimate, innovative and versatile flows from a Californian MC
Crumbs look like buffets to poor folk, but knowledge is the wealth and that ain’t no joke.
lyrics from Fight

Raashan Ahmad is an MC based out of the Bay Area, California. Born in Trenton, New Jersey, Ahmad and his family moved to Los Angeles, California at a young age. It was here that he began listening to local hip hop stations, which inspired him to start a dance crew called Battlekatz. The crew shortly turned into a rap group, with Ahmad as one of the MCs. In 1996 he moved to Massachusetts, where he became involved in the local (Mission Hill/Boston) hip hop scene. However, he soon moved back to California after being invited to be the MC for Mission/Crown City Rockers, a 5-piece hip hop group based out of Oakland. The group is known for playing old school hip hop with live instrumentation, similar to groups like The Roots and N.E.R.D. After establishing himself as an MC for Mission and Crown City Rockers, Ahmad released his first solo debut, The Push, on Om Records in 2008. Known for his innovation and versatility, Ahmad has collaborated with artists like Aloe Blacc, Chali 2na (Jurassic 5), Gift of Gab (Blackalicious), and Greg Errico (Sly and the Family Stone). His most recent album, For What You've Lost, was released on A Champion Sound in December 2010. Ahmad is currently touring and working on his next album.

Some rappers make a big show about “keeping it real” and staying true to their roots, when they actually couldn't be further removed from their fan base. These are the kind of rappers who flaunt their luxury cars, their designer clothes, and their diamond-encrusted grills. Luckily, Raashan Ahmad isn't one of those rappers. Just take a look at his Facebook page, and you'll see him constantly interacting with his fans on a personal level. The MC, currently based out of Oakland, California, has been performing since the mid-'90s. After establishing himself as an MC for Mission/Crown City Rockers, a 5-piece hip hop group, Ahmad released his first solo debut, The Push, in 2008. A mix of old-school hip hop, soul, and even hints of electro (thanks to Ahmad's brief rave period), The Push is an accomplished and versatile debut. If you think “Weight” sounds eerily familiar, it's because it samples the song “Pressure Point” by The Zutons. Ahmad comes in with a yowl that would make James Brown proud, before slipping into a flow that describes a man who can't seem to catch a break: “Even Vaseline give me no shine!” If you're looking for a song to woo that special someone, look no further than “Close.” Produced by Crown City Rockers, it's is a sexy electro-infused jam that mixes '80s-style synths with Ahmad's intimate flow. What really stands out about Ahmad's lyrics is that he's not afraid to put even his most heart-wrenching emotions on the line. In the first line on “Cancer,” Ahmad admits that, “It's crazy hard to write this” before chronicling the last year of his mother's life, before she passed away from cancer. It's not often that a song, hip hop or otherwise, can bring tears to your eyes, but “Cancer” does just that. Ahmad loops wailing and screaming sounds, so that you can feel his agonizing emotional pain throughout the song. You can almost hear him choking back tears as he continues to tell the story, and one of the most powerful points is when he screams out, “F*CK CANCER!” Two years later, on his album For What You've Lost, the hurt over his mother's passing still comes through in the lyrics for “Pain On Black.” By using his music to deal with his emotional pain, and letting the audience into his mindset, Raashan Ahmad skillfully establishes a very human connection, and refreshingly so.