Download Waves now: Apple Music
Many of us have heard the saying: “Diamonds are formed under pressure.” Similar phrases have been used over and over to describe different situations where something impressive emerges from a tough situation. Many feel the phrase is overused and usually doesn’t fit the situation described. However, there are some situations where the phrase most certainly applies. Jamal Ari is a person who this phrase fits perfectly!
After listening to Ari’s debut album, Paid in Blood (iTunes/Spotify/Amazon), a few of the songs instantly became favorites: Dope Boy Fresh, Real N****z Only, and Otherside. Although I have my own favorites, conversations with the Tucson rapper forced me to revisit the other tracks, focusing more on the lyrics. I learned that the words weren’t just lyrics to a song, but somewhat of an autobiography of Ari as well.
Though BCV readers, and those who follow us on social media, may recall video highlights of Jamal Ari’s music, others in the valley seem to limit their focus to just the Phoenix Hip Hop scene. I’ve already outlined why I believe this is a mistake. Again, there is too much talent out there to limit yourself to artists to just one area. Jamal Ari is proof.
Going back to the phrase “diamonds being formed under pressure,” Ari reveals his process of emerging through his lyrics:
This gangsta shit I was smothered in, dodging court arraignments;“Viceland” by Jamal Ari
Me and brother were lions on the loose; they couldn’t cage us.
Like UFC, we fought to establish our independence;
Left Minnesota in ’04 and traveled to the desert.
Shining a bit of light on the world he lived in prior to moving to AZ, it’s apparent the pressure was building early. These lyrics reveal the reality that created the artist.
This is it, no more living meager, I’m so eager;“Viceland” by Jamal Ari
I done spent so many nights sleeping frozen by the heater
playing father to my nephew like “isn’t it ironic?”,
I lost my child a year ago and he needs a father, but
we don’t give a fuck, its just makes us grind harder
and revenge is best served cold that shit won’t be forgotten
can’t believe I’m even breathing should’ve died in those accidents
I think I did, nothings been the same after it
When you hear the songs, it’s obvious the lyrics are original. There’s no riding the wave or copying the style of mainstream music. He makes his own waves. Each line is manifested from a prior experience. This is what sets him apart. As a listener, its more than just listening to the music; it feels like you are going through the journey.
My brother caught another case, momma put up 30k;“Price We Paid” by Jamal Ari
never love a women she don’t ride for you that same way.
These niggas they ain’t loyal tho; Never do the shit they say,
so I’m drifting thru the east, bandanas ’round these loaded K’s.
My cities so small, don’t act like I’m not a call away
from finding where that bitchs stay, blammers and some hand grenades
squeezing on you niggas, turn your front lawn to pompeii,
shits deeper then rap, grim reaper off of Bombay.
As Jamal said himself, the things he went through gave him his current opportunities, hence the name of the song. He outlines a bit of history in his Soundcloud bio. What’s interesting is that music runs in his family, which explains his ability to paint a vivid picture with lyrics. But to get to this point, he had to make changes, and focus on the music and his future.
…but I guess its just the price we paid,“Price We Paid” by Jamal Ari
like that night I drank the entire case
and drove with no intent of being safe;
totaled my car cause I didn’t wanna live another day
and walked away….without a scrap;
…its just the price we paid.
Since the release of Paid in Blood, Ari dropped a second album last year, Vampcamp, and has just released his third album, Waves. Make sure to check out the new project and give your feedback below.