A true rags to riches story: Isa Muhammad was a homeless rapper who threw a freestyle up on youtube. Rick Ross saw it, and Isa Muhammad got signed to Maybach Music.

His album, Diabolical Bastard Billionaire Genius is a dense, fast-moving collection of conscious rap, gangsta adventures, and some “true from the heart” autobiographical tales. It’s one of the most heartfelt releases I’ve heard in a while–feeling like a marriage between the likes of Kendrick and Schoolboy Q with more indie-minded rappers like Jay Electronica and STS.

And buried under layers of raging against the machine, there’s lots of humor as well. “Tell those muthafuckers I got hooked on phonics!” His anger is completely understandable: How does a guy this smart, with this kind of command of the language, end up homeless in America?

His delivery is amazing, too. Whether it’s the build-up on tracks like “Doors,” or the matter-of-fact delivery of “22 Inches,” or the way he throws down challenges and boasts between heavy concepts like how black lives haven’t mattered since slavery…

Guest spots include Rick Ross and A$AP Rocky, among others, but Isa is the real star–and most of it is him.

You can hear it on Soundcloud, or cop it now off Datpiff. But don’t fall in love with Isa. As quick as he was finding success, he retired from the music business claiming that his faith in Islam would not allow him to continue to perform–but it looks like the real story is he has conflict with Rick Ross and would rather not play at all than play for Ross’ label.

Hopefully more to come.

Standout tracks: Isa Mane, #blacklivesmatter, Lazer Etched, Turkey Bacon & Triggers.

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