After publishing my piece on Lupe Fiasco, tons of underground hip hop artists sent me their work. Ultimately, none impressed me until I came across HANiF.
A spiritual revolutionary, HANiF delivers powerful lyrics alongside stunning production that fits in to, yet stands apart from, current hip hop culture. With pure command of the craft, HANiF speaks to the soulful crux of hip hop — a musical declaration meant to evoke political thought, spark emotion, and prompt mental profundity.
Unlike many socially conscious rappers, HANiF is not pushy in his pro-Black mellifluous rhetoric. His lyrics are galvanizing and polarizing, yet intimate and digestible. The manner by which he delivers his rhapsodic content suggests a coveted organic confidence — he’s a man completely comfortable in his worldview, unafraid and unabashed in his symphonic expression.
His latest EP 12 Inch Vinyls, is a testament to his fluidly secure creativity. Produced, mixed, and mastered by 5th Sequence, the project begins with “Feels So Good,” a song with a vintage 90s feel. A story of HANiF’s rise as a hip hop artist, he channels the experiences — both positive and negative — of artistry recognition in a competitive, cluttered, and claustrophobic field.
“Miss Kenya” (feat. Adrian Adel) is for us ladies. A rhythmic anecdote of Black love, HANiF reminisces about the Queen with the “People of the Sun smile” that he let get away.
“Speakeasy” induces the feel of a contemporary Harlem Renaissance. With lyrics creating the coziness of a kickback, “Speakeasy” is about those intimate moments when superficial egos are stripped away to reveal the Black nature of chill.
The most declarative proclamation comes with “Gentrify.” A potent single exposing the irony of gentrification that ends with a straightforward definition of the nefarious socioeconomic phenomenon. The video makes these words visible, with HANiF being erased and replaced with a white hipster who effortlessly mimics his words.
The EP ends with “Frontin’ On The Rappin.'” With a seemingly effortless flow, HANiF tell us the multilayered dimensions by which hip hop is undermined and falsely manufactured.
The bonus track “Chalk ‘Em Out,” (feat. Michael Zoah) is an epic head bopper. A gentle reminder of 90s-era Chicago house music (probably the greatest Black musical art form ever) “Chalk ‘Em Out” is the perfect tune for a relentless two-step.
The second bonus track “Servant II The King” is Jeezy-esque in sound, but pro-Black in vibe.
HANiF is hip hop I
like love. Artistic mastery of storytelling emboldened by more than skill, but raw talent. HANiF is authentic — a genuine believer in the craft, a soldier in the Movement, a natural.
*Featured Image Credit: HANiF’s Facebook page.