Father Jah
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Father Jah

Louisville, Kentucky, United States

Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Band Hip Hop R&B

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"Hip Hop Is Dead But We Can Still Party"

Music Review - Father Jah: Hip hop is dead, but we can still party

By Matt Herron

"Hip hop's been dead," said Jah, a.k.a. Father Jassiem Allah, 31, an elder statesman of Louisville rap. "Nas didn't make no great revelation."

What killed the genre is a generation gap between artists like Grandmaster Flash and Run DMC, and the rappers of today, who are more preoccupied with image than imagination.

As frank as he is, Jah explains hip hop's slow, painful death like a man bent on resurrecting it.

"When you listen to the message by Grandmaster Flash, when you listen to Kool Moe Dee, then you listen to Rakim, you can see the progression in the art, in the writing and in the cadence that the rappers use," he says.

"Compare Rakim to Young Jeezy: The growth ain't there. A lot of cats didn't build on the foundation that was already laid because of the way the media chose to show rap. Watch 'Rap City' lately? Every video's like snap music funk shit. Hip hop ain't been the same in a long time."

Even rappers like Tupac Shakur had commercial hits as well as singles carrying political and socioeconomic messages (hear: "Brenda's Got a Baby"). To hear Jah talk about it, such artists now are absent — or ignored — from the commercial hip-hop marketing machine, a machine that exists because rap is now a product, not just an art form.

"Rap wasn't necessarily a product 10 years ago," Jah says.

Jah got into rap because of break dancing, because of films like "Krush Groove," and most of all, because of Run DMC. "Run DMC is the greatest group ever. When I heard Run in there, that was it. The rhymes just took it to another level," he says.

Rap seduced Jah with its rebellious attitude. "I loved everything there was to it: the attitude, the raw grittiness of it. It didn't sound like the music we heard our parents listen to."

As a teenager, Jah, who was born in South Bend, Ind., but went to school in Louisville, used to shop for every rap and hip-hop record he could find at places like King's Records on Poplar Level Road.

The hip-hop section at King's consisted of 10 or 20 records tops. "You could really own everything," he says. "The game wasn't all flooded and crazy. Every record you bought was different."

In 1992, at age 16, Jah took all the money he saved from a summer job, went into a recording studio and made his first album, Countdown to a Beatdown. He handled all of the packaging, the pressing and the selling himself.

"The best thing about the rap game is you can be wherever you put yourself," he said. "I know some grown men who still can't do some of the things I did at 16."

Part of the reason is that today, most rappers have their destiny laid out
for them.

"There is a formula for how you market a rap record: You have to have a club cut, you have to have a cut for the ladies. You need gold teeth, gold chain. Matter of fact, you're gonna make a new dance."

He laughs after that last comment, not necessarily because it's funny, but because it's true. And disturbing.

"We're unbalanced right now,"
Jah says.

Jah plans to bring balance, and a little fun, to the hip hop faithful in the form of his new album, Philosophies of a Modern Day Mastermind, to be released under his own label and promotion company, Unstopable Sound Agency.

As cynical as he is about the national hip-hop scene, Jah remains hopeful about the bumper crop of Louisville rappers.

"I like the fact that a lot of the younger cats are being aggressive, and they're opening up some new doors," said Jah, who listens to locals Hurricane, a female duo called Queendom Come, Wreck D. Mic, Diamondbacks, Kommittee and Sandolla. "The music that is coming out of Louisville is very versatile. I see cats in the street selling CDs, I buy two of 'em."

- Leo Weekly


Discography

1992-COUNTDOWN TO THE BEATDOWN (EP)
1993-THE UNDERGROUND SINGLE
1993-UNDERGROUND SHIZNIT (MAXI-SINGLE)
1994-REASON 4 PARANOIA (FULL-LENGTH)
1995-CROOKED SEED
1996-STRICTLY UNDERGROUND (EP)
1997-YA BOY NEM
1998-GRAPHIC EAR FANTASY
1999-THE BLACK SUNRISE (FULL-LENGTH)
2000-MUDD NIGGUHZ EP
2001-THE,REBIRTH,THE REZZEREXXTION,THE MUDD NIGGUHZ (FULL-LENGTH)
2002-THE REAL NIGGUH BIBLE (FULL-LENGTH)
2003-WE ARE THE UNDERGROUND (FULL-LENGTH)
2004-MIX CD SERIES
2005-MIX CD SERIES
2006-CUT ME IN OR CUT IT OUT (MIX CD)
2007-THE STREETS MOST WANTED (MIX CD)
2008-THE PHILOSOPHIES OF A MODERN DAY MASTERMIND (FULL-LENGTH)

Photos

Bio

�..And Hip-Hop was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the underground . . . and out of that darkness came a GOD for the Hip-Hop Universe that begot a man . . .his name . . . was Father Jah. That is just one of many introductions that can be given to this self-made entrepreneur known simply to the world as Father Jah. With more than 10 yr. of dominating the underground music scene, Father Jah has truly paved his own way in this world we now officially call hip-hop. Father Jah, a.k.a. Hen X the Stile, was slangin his packaged tapes of original music as a young teen in the early 1990�s, already working towards the goal of becoming one of industries next top Hip-Hop Moguls. Father Jah is said to be the most self sufficient underground artists in the Midwest, mastering everything from, rhyming, producing, engineering, graphic design, artist development, retail, marketing, and promotions, as well as being a Hip-Hop Historian. In 1992 Father Jah, then known as Hen X the Stile, made his first six track EP, which he co-produced and wrote himself, entitled "Countdown to the Beatdown". Since then, Father Jah has created several albums and worked along side numerous artist in the underground hip hop circuit. Though based in Kentucky, Father Jah has toured independently all across the United States collaborating,building, and chopping game, while simultaneously building an unstopable resume that would include collaborations with nationally known artists such as Lil Jon, Nappy Roots, M1 of Dead Prez, Imam Thug, Native, Kingpin Skinny Pimp, Dinco D of Leaders of the New School, and Shawn J of Field Mob, to modestly name a few. Father Jah is best known for 4 unique bodies of work, "The Black Sunrise" (1999), "The Mudd Nigguhz"(2001), "The Real Nigguh Bible"(2002), and his most recent offering "Philosophies of a Modern Day Mastermind"(2008). Each of these albums documents his growth in writing, producing and arranging.By taking heed to trial and error, Father Jah has created his own formula for success based on networking, planning, a strong work ethic, balanced with an unyielding drive to out perform himself.

On his latest CD, the concept album "Philosophies of a Modern Day Mastermind", Father Jah blesses his listeners with a double CD worth of material (24 tracks total), where he uninhibitedly pounces from song to song articulating struggle, joy, progress, and pain, while still managing to cleverly quench the thirst for QUALITY hip hop entertainment. In addition to just music, the CD cover is also accompanied by the "Bad Nigguh Philosophies 1-10" which covers topics ranging from defining yourself, community/hood empowerment, snitching, hustler's unity,usage of the word nigger and what is a "bad nigguh".

In closing, what Father Jah brings to the table is a glimpse back to the era in hip hop culture when MC's sought to present their thoughts to the world, and still be fly, yet unique. With his unparalleled writing ability, commanding flow, and in your face live performances, coupled with his experience and a powerful, yet comfortable sense of identity,Father Jah might be the missing piece to today's hip hop puzzle.