My generation will always believe we lived in the golden age of hip hop…because it’s true. We were babies when rap was still a baby. We spent our youth and teenage years growing, changing, rebelling, much like hip hop, as it morphed from precocious youth and street rhymes to rebellious gangster rap. Eventually, we set off into the “real world”; steeped in our ideas, believing we had the answers to all the world’s problems, all while being inspired by voices like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and Public Enemy, teaching us to rebel in a new way – with knowledge.
But what about the next phase of our lives? What about when the men of my generation started to get married, and more importantly, became fathers. How do we teach our sons and daughters about the musical art we love so much, while shielding them from the rhymes filled negative connotations, misogynistic undertones, a lack of positive message. Where is our soundtrack for this point in our lives; our message of positivity, and uplifting fatherhood.
Enter Beleaf Melanin
Baltimore, MD born rapper Beleaf Melanin (who now resides in San Diego,CA) dropped his new album, In Fatherhood today, and it’s nothing like I’ve ever experienced before.
For someone who grew up with some of the greatest hip hop/rap the world will ever know, and now as someone who dislikes 95% of said hip hop out today, this album is a breath of fresh air. Not just because it takes me back to a time I loved; a time where hip hop was pure and amazing, but it speaks to me about the time I’m in right now…fatherhood.
To put it simply, In Fatherhood is a journey in 17 tracks. Or better yet, this album is like a 3 course meal, and Beleaf is your chef de cuisine.
Things start off strong with the track Douchebag. Beleaf comes out swinging, like a fighter with nothing left to lose – letting everyone know who’s on the mic, and the skills they’re about to witness. The aggressive start gave me pause at first, leaving me wondering what the rest of the album had in store, and how it would end. The lyrical assault continued on tracks like No Chill, where Beleaf makes it clear he’s ready to throw down for his (lyrically or otherwise), any time, anywhere. The first 4 tracks of this album are a tasty appetizer that, much like your tastes buds, will leave your ears craving so much more.
The main course is served, and I quickly realized this meal, wasn’t going to be like anything I’d experienced before. Like trying cuisine from a different culture, tracks like Blase’ and Heartbreak turned my world upside. My soul was introduced to a the childhood a man lost. Lost for direction or meaning, lost in the environment around him, and lost in the games that surround a wanting heart. Needless to say, while tasty and filling, digesting this course was hard for me.
But it’s the dessert course where Beleaf shines. His rhymes about growth, love, faith, and fatherhood close out this musical meal in amazing fashion. The track Tribe (featuring Chocolate Babies) is arguably the best track on this entire amazing album – because who doesn’t love hearing little kids drop some sweet lyrics along side their pop? But call me a sucker for visual aid, Beleaf’s debut video for the track You’re Okay just captures my heart.
And just when I’m sure my soul couldn’t consume one more bite; full from taste after taste of an amazing meal, Beleaf whips up a fun after-meal drink in the form of the closing track Baby Daddy where he not only closes the event out on a fun and funky note, but also bids farewell to rap. Not for good mind you, but makes it clear the rap game is no longer his primary focus – fatherhood is now what consumes him.
This album pulled my heart out of my chest, flipped it up in the air, diced it up and served it back to me as something I never thought it could be. I actually believe I’m a better father just for listening to this album. Beleaf opened my eyes, and my heart, to new levels of emotions I never knew I could feel.
This album also showed me that rap “can” grow up. If I had to compare this album to anything, it would be like saying Tribe Called Quest and Digable Planets grew up and had a baby…and that baby grew up to be In Fatherhood. The sultry tunes of jazz and funk will keep your head nodding steady to every track, but before you can get too comfortable and lazy, the knowledge contained in this album smacks you upside your head.
And please, do yourself a favor and pick up In Fatherhood over on iTunes or kingsdreament.com, you won’t regret it. Like my man Beleaf says, “And it’s spelt B-E-L-E-A-F not B-E-L-I-E-F, cause we don’t lie, baby”
I received an advance copy of this album to listen to. I was not compensated for my work. All opinions and words are my own.