Last year, we introduced you to the powerful social commentary of Emay (Mubarik Adams), a hip-hop and experimental artist from Ontario, Canada. His new album, just released, is Ilah (on Star Slinger’s Jet Jam label). It picks up from where lead single “Israfil ‘angels trumpet'” left off — trying to make sense of a senseless world, envisioning a society where one can be the master of one’s destiny and not a victim of circumstance. In other words, it’s about life. His breathless prose is startling in its literary prowess and poetic deliverance. Phrases twirl around the musical accompaniment like beautifully twisting vines. They rise elegantly from the rich compost of hypnotic beats, experimental soundscapes and otherworldly voices, woven together like a timeless tapestry. The listener is alternately drawn into the depths of aural seduction and then popped awake with a powerful metaphor or turn of phrase.
“As a son, I inherited heavy talismans.
Pallid, invalid purposes. Set for the many challenges.
Studied what He told us and parroted many passages,
Only to duck embarrassment – Barren of any sacrilege.
Required to wear tradition as a blindfold.
Only admire, never petition when a lie is told.”
“The History of Humankind” is exactly that — a modern chronicle of civilization, with a sharp eye and piercing perception. As he catalogues humankind’s accomplishments and failures with adept precision in an abandoned gas station, an urban soldier in riot gear performs fragmented krumping like an alien sign language.
“To me the video is a battle displaying my ideological development and the conflict of ideas taking over and building off of one another. Much love to Aaron Hall and Dujean Williams for creating that with me. My beliefs and ideas about the world are constantly evolving and developing; this isn’t an overnight process, but one that takes a decade or maybe even a lifetime.” – Emay
Consider distilling the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Noam Chomsky, Dostoevsky, Lenin, Kwame Nkrumah plus the writings of the Quran into a rap/hip-hop album, and you’ll begin to comprehend the headiness and ambition of a work like this. An interview Adams gave to The Paper Street Journal delves into his inspiration, from religious texts to political leaders to grassroots social movements. He offers up no answers, just an avalanche of questions and the intense desire to stimulate dialogue.
“My goal for this project was to depict the progression of my ideological development as a child up until now as an adult. My main focus being to depict how one’s experiences directly influences one’s ideas about the world.” – Emay