Review Summary: Soul Khan makes one of the strongest releases I've listened to this year, proving to be a force to be reckoned with.
** TL;DR? Point Breakdown below.
Soul Khan has done something few other could do, and that's to come from the likes of Smack and Grindtime and make two mature, thoughtful albums without losing the sense of fun that listening to battles has. On "Soul Like Khan" he showed us listeners how hip hop should be, a coherent album with varied subjects and nothing but dope rhymes. Coming off a release like that isn't easy as it's hard to keep up with it, but Soul does it no problem with "Acknowledgement".
Acknowledgement, the first album of a set of 3 collaborations with producers, is based around the theme of self-worth. Soul hits that topic hard from multiple perspectives, and each time he rips up the track. Starting out strong, he comes with "Meant To Be" F. Akie Bermiss. Akie's talents here as a singer really come out as he belts out soulful lyrics over a track with a Michael Jackson kind of feel. Khan makes a pledge to his listeners and fans here that he'll "Die before I ever let you put your dream in reverse". He comes with the most obvious interpretation of his theme, the supportive pick yourself up by the bootstraps kind of temperament. All throughout the first verse he has a sick flow that words just simply can't do justice to. Also, he tells an interesting idea:
"To the females that made me a fool
and to every bartender that gave me a stool
might of been a long trip but you gave me the fuel
so I can stay fly like the avian flu."
It's a cool concept that doesn't come out much in rap these days, and that is to thank those that gave him the will and the hurt to let his feelings and stories out in his raps. This portion of the song really stuck with me. Coming off of such a moral high-point Soul starts to brag a bit, and to present himself as a kind of super-hero. Akie lends his vocals here too and shows off his broad vocal range, with a simple guitar and drums background. Soul spits some powerful rhymes here too:
"He could'a made the world into a comfortable place
life gave him lemons so he threw a punch in his face
we all have been told that power corrupts
so whatchu gon' be when your hour is up?"
Next comes the main song off the album, with a powerful backbeat and horn section: Black Hammer, White Lightning feat. Marv Won. This is a real braggadocio track, and Soul comes out as a proud of myself and f*ck the rest idea here. The collaboration with Marv Won doesn't work for me, but it's likable and definitely unoffensive at least, so it does nothing really for or against the track in my opinion. There's one line that just stuck out to me though, a scorching diss to the mainstream.
"I should crossover?
Please homie, crossover to what?
That's just a nice way to tell me to openly suck."
Ouch. Next up, Alec Baldwin. This track reminds me of GZA's Liquid swords album, quiet children singing in the background, an old movie quote to open up and it's just haunting. It's a really big compliment to the DJ here (Deejay Element) that his tracks compare to the RZA. Soul's throwing his cards on the table, and with a sample that says simply "I am God.", you can't mistake his intentions with the song. Lastly, Soul reps the DJ Booth, with "Khan Wilkes Booth", a good track that ends with a funny and interesting idea where Soul shouts out to everyone from Jay-Z and Russel Brand to the man that takes his trash out, and thanks them for helping him out on his way up.
That sums up the new material off of his album, but the 6th track "Soul Like Khan" is really from the release of the same title. It's the edited video version, a nice addition for buying the EP. All in all, this is probably the best use of $4 you'll make in a while. I can't recommend this album enough.
Lyrics - 5
Music - 4.5
Overal - 4.5
But wait! Why not round to a 5? Because it's not REALLY an album, the EP length leaves a little to be desired, even if it's a good thing that I'd like more there.
If you need a link, you can find the album at http://soulkhan.bandcamp.com and make sure to check out his battles on youtube. Just search Soul Khan and you'll find 'em. I'd recommend not watching his battle with Fox unless you like to see baby seals get clubbed, Fox didn't deserve the effort.