There are probably a dozen rappers who send out press releases or album promos or free okayplayer albums every day, and most of them are decent but not much more than that. Then, sometimes, there are guys who are pure genius. Guys who, if radio still mattered, would be huge. Guys who just need a voice–a place to land. Haji P is one of those guys. Earlier this year, Haji released a series of singles through routinefly and other sites that, collected, he called “Home Repair.” (You can cop it for free here.) What made the Home Repair EP so out-of-the (and extra-) ordinary was the variety. Haji’s flow is pretty similar to Wale, but he’s got a little more bounce and joy in his step. His styles shift, albeit subtly, from Chicago sex-and-girls romps to East Coast storytelling to San Francisco bombast, but unlike other artists who shift styles just to prove to labels that they are versatile, Haji P’s voices are organic. He just moves, like he can’t help it. Like he needs to. In his riff over the Fresh Prince of Bel Air beats, he tells you why: He’s from all over. Haji has lived in Hawaii, New Jersey, North Carolina, and (now) the Biggety Biggety Bay Area.
More recently, Haji P released his first solo full-length (he’s been associated with Brown Co. and Rec League). The best part is that, as good as Home Repair was, the Neighborhood Kid album is even better. The producer, DJ MF Shalem (also from Brown Co. and Rec League) completely gets a guy like Haji P. The beats are playful but hard enough to back hardcore rhymes. The lyrics, over the course of the record, tell Haji’s life story, which is another thing that sets this record apart: It’s actually an album, not a collection of disconnected rhymes to show versatility and back a few singles. Standout cuts: El Segundo (an update of my favorite Tribe Called Quest song), Mockingbird, and the single, Good Grief. Hell, the entire album is freakin’ amazing. Available on iTunes and other digital outlets.
I haven’t been so into a new rapper since I found Hollywood Floss late last year.
Video for Good Grief: