REVIEW: Raashan Ahmad’s “Ceremony”

Raashan Ahmad photo RaashanAhmad_cover_zps52fb57ee.jpg Ceremony (Jakarta) is the new album by MC Raashan Ahmad, and in everything he has done in the last 15 years or so, this is an album that is a demonstration of not only his worldly travels, but the internal travels he has gone through recently and perhaps throughout life. Musically, the different cultural textures of the album makes it come off like a cross between Malcolm McLaren’s Duck Rock and Paul Simon’s Graceland, and yet one is able to grasp the fullness of Ahmad’s stories simply by placing it on their stereos or slipping on headphones and being able to sonically travel that way. The goal for Ahmad, I’d like to think, is to let people know that the first step in those travels is making that first step forward. As I’m listening to these songs, I was reminded of the photo of Osibisa that was in the gatefold cover of their debut album. It seem to speak of brotherhood, of family, or in Ahmad’s case, different aspects of himself divided in song form, and uniting as one for the sake of showing that oneness he hopes to pass to each listener.

At least that’s what I’m getting through Ceremony, an album that seems to celebrate different aspects of what he witnesses and experiences, be it music, children, family, or simply living. It sounds like someone who has been to the places he has talked about or if he hasn’t, it’s on his bucket list. It’s a positive album, the type of hip-hop (and hip-hop album) that should be celebrate by the masses but aren’t. I want the kind of music that takes me places, especially when I’m unable to at a specific moment, I want to hear the journey from the beginning to the end. While not a concept album, it does have a running theme where the ceremony in question may be at each place he goes to or raps from, or maybe it’s the eventual ceremony he hopes to have waiting for him once he makes it back home. What I also love about the album is that at times his voice seems worn out a bit, specifically as the album moves towards the end. I’m not sure if he recorded these songs in order of appearance, but it comes off as the weary traveler, affected by the weather and his surroundings. That’s another thing too: it’s hip-hop that sounds like it has spent time outdoors, like many of us did as kids. It’s a way to let the youth know “open the door” to whatever you want to see. Read a book, walk to the park with friends, head out of town if you can. It was A Tribe Called Quest who released an album called People’s Instinctive Travels & The Paths Of Rhythm and this is some of those rhythms that detail Ahmad’s path. I’ve loved what he had done during his time with Mission: and Crown City Rockers, and I’m certain that there are many more paths for Ahmad to take from here on out.