Rasheed Jamal, Indigo Child (U Ain't the Only 1!) (FRSH TRB Republic)
[RAP OF ALL TRADES] If you finish listening to a rap album and your first thought is, "This guy needs to do less," the problem is never talent. Portland-via-Arkansas MC Rasheed Jamal clearly has that. More often than not, he spews his words at a mile a minute, and switches up his delivery relentlessly enough to back up his brag, "Got enough flows to rap the mundo." One second he's a dead ringer for Pusha T ("Never Die Alone"), the next he could pass for at least half of TDE's roster ("Lxrd Finesse"). Indigo Child shows that Jamal's capable of doing whatever style he wants. He just doesn't narrow his scope enough to make it a unique and compelling full-length. If you're looking for a highlight reel that echoes the most universally acclaimed, undisputed hip-hop from the last two decades—think OutKast, A Tribe Called Quest and Kendrick Lamar—look no further. It's at least interesting to hear the worlds of '90s jazz rap and modern sophisti-trap collide with little context. But Jamal's autobiographical content and wide-ranging societal observations could gain more impact with sharpened aesthetics and a more vibrant persona. Indigo Child's lyrical gymnastics and well-produced beats ensure that it's never a slog. But without something tying everything together, it's hard to separate it from the pack.
SEE IT: Rasheed Jamal plays Mic Check at White Eagle, 836 N Russell St., with Glenn Waco and Trox, on Thursday, Oct. 26. 10 pm. $7. 21+.