Cover photo by Renee Lopez

Portland has put out some really good projects this year, but few have moved me as much as Indigo Child by Rasheed Jamal, available in full on Spotify and iTunes.

Jamming 13 songs into 46 skit-free minutes, Rasheed masterfully executed his vision for navigating his continued existence in a flawed world, shrugging off his own self-doubts in the process. The Resistance vet married his Southern roots with the vibrant and unapologetic culture of North Portland rap, creating a dark and moody yet danceable project with excellent production and even better thematics. Despite varied sources of production the project flows incredibly well; it’s the type of album you can play straight through and just bob your head to, or you can sit down all day and unravel the dense lyrics with the help of the rewind button.

At a time when full-length albums are not too common, Rasheed’s entry pokes through the field on format alone, and rises in standing with each listen. With few guest features, Rasheed Jamal put the weight on his own shoulders and carried it successfully. Consistency is big for me when judging an album as a whole, and each track on Indigo Child provides individual value. That said, Never Die Alone, Muddy Waters, Prodigy Knows Best and Indigo stand out to me as favorites.

I took some time to briefly review each song, but give the album a good listen for yourself, and feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments.

AAA!!! (produced by Miramare)

A good wakeup track with hi-hats and high energy that starts slow, ends slow, yet in the middle is anything but. Linking references to Caroline to both Amine and Maze Koroma was extremely Portland.

Never Die Alone (produced by Scottie Flame$)

As soon as the song starts, you know it’s going to be a problem. The tribal drums couple with the soul samples disturbingly well and Rasheed fills the gaps with cleverly reckless lyrics, channeling his inner-DMX for the gruff and grimy track.

Lxrd Finesse (produced by LORDFUBU)

The pace picks up a little here as Rasheed succumbs to the melody and defies cardiovascular limits with mind-numbing lyrical runs about the art of chasing money.

Muddy Waters (produced by Lexi Banks)

On another big beat, Rasheed puts together a crowd-friendly extended hook and delivers the rapid-fire lyricism that put him on the map in the first place while bucking against the system. A powerful closing verse from former groupmate Glenn Waco makes this one of the more important songs one the album, reintroducing a vibe the city’s been missing.

Uzumaki (produced by LORDFUBU)

On his first departure from trappy-production, Rasheed brings in the homie Dook to open the manga-inspired track before hopping on and murdering an extra-long verse.

FWM (produced by Lord Sinz)

One of the moodiest tracks on the project, Rasheed encourages listeners to f*** with him over a whimsical loop. A sing-song hook and sharp bars keep it interesting.

What’s The Matter (produced by immrcy)

The first 21 seconds of the track bears no sound, and every time it prompts me to make sure the music is still on. Rasheed, perhaps on cue, comes out talking about anti-social tendencies over a drum loop and the track slowly evolves into a sort of jam session that evolves into Lyricist Lounge-like jazzy rap interlude around the 2:20 mark.

Prodigy Knows Best (produced by immrcy)

Another jazzy beat allows Rasheed to get on his Luck One and take the system head on while ribbing his contemporaries to keep up.

Dear Past (produced by Tone Jonez)

I’m a sucker for the sort of sample treatment used on this moody but fast-paced beat and Rasheed runs on the drums the way few can. A catchy hook that combines a number of lowkey Black proverbs set the tone.

Pause For The Cause (produced by Wonderlust)

Rasheed chronicles a bit of his history and namedrops his influences over a classic sample, infusing some of his own previous lines causing the new track to feel familiar on the first listen.

Keep Dreamin’ (produced by Tone Jonez)

Rasheed goes super old-school with it for this one, dropping swift raps over an early 90’s styled break beat. Rasheed may not switch his style up much, but this song exemplifies just how versatile his style is.

Indigo (produced by Juno)

Paying homage to Jay-Z, Rasheed slows down a bit and builds on the Dead Presidents flow while looking for truth in a world of overt influence. If you appreciate Rasheed’s cannibalized flow for what it is, this song is an easy favorite and really serves as an explanation of his aesthetic.

Blood Brothers (produced by LDP Traxx)

Standing out as an introspective track on a rather introspective album, the closing song features Rasheed calling himself out for his flaws, weighing them against his strengths, and reconciling his existence over a semi-jazzy new-aged beat.