Like a thief in the night

June 8, 2007

Amir Sulaiman - Like a Thief in the NightMy birthday was Tuesday, and, although I told my wife not to get me anything, she insisted. đŸ™‚

Amir Sulaiman’s latest: Like A Thief In The Night was on my Amazon.com wishlist. So, she ordered it for me, and it came probably a week before my birthday. She assumed that it was the correct CD, but when she gave it to me and I opened it, I found Isaac Hayes’ Shaft in my hand.

How on God’s green earth do you mistake Shaft for Amir Sulaiman? It’s not like the CD covers look remotely similar.

Anyway, she complained, and they sent the correct one, received yesterday. SubhanAllah, it takes me back to my roots. Hard hitting, east coast beats under fresh, pleasantly poetic lyrics. He transcends boundaries of race and religion and delivers exactly what the dying hip-hop community needs. It is rich with a tapestry of self-reflection, calls to action, lamenting the suffering of the down-trodden, and foretelling of a victory for the righteous. Absent is the typical lyrical bravado and self-aggrandizement of most rappers (even many Muslim rappers).

Make no mistake about it, he is Muslim and apparently a lover of Ahlul-bayt (peace be upon them), and it’s not unusual for him to fall into the ecstasy of his own lyrics and start chanting “la ilaha il-Allah (there is no god but Allah).” In that way it has the symbolic texture of classical Islamic poetry…as though it were the modern-day qasida or ghazal.

Still, his lyrics are also very political, very pro-black, and very anti-oppression. He is part of the new wave of hip-hop artists trying to reclaim the culture that was abducted and molested by the mainstream music industry. And with guest appearances by cultural pioneers such as the Last Poets and hip-hop reformist and fellow Muslim Mos Def, the message certainly hits home.

The only complaint I could really have about the CD is that it’s not enough. I’d like to sit and pick this brother’s brain for hours, and unfortunately, I only get a little over 50 minutes. May Allah reward his efforts and purify the bounties that he receives through his jihad. I give Like A Thief In The Night a five [change gonna come by the fire by the gun by the word by the deed by the heaven by the street]…out of five.


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