DFW Music News

Rakim Al-Jabbaar Has Lots To Say With Three Album Releases, and We're All Lucky For That

Rakim Al-Jabbaar didn't write anything for years, and then the words never stopped coming.
Rakim Al-Jabbaar didn't write anything for years, and then the words never stopped coming. Ethan Straight
Rakim Al-Jabbaar hadn’t written a song or as much as a lyric since 2016. The same friends who have been going to the studio to watch him record as early as 2005 have never seen him pull out a pen or a pad. With that said, he is also a former Dallas Observer Music Award winner for Best Songwriter.

It's been three years since Al-Jabbaar has released a full-length album, but he made it up to his fans with two projects in around 30 days: illDallas and JuiseGod, a collaboration with Juise Leroy. Listeners know to expect classic hip-hop energy from a Rakim Al-Jabbaar record, but iIlDallas is different. The album consists of straight bars with an occasional rare hook every now and then.

DJ Menace, who spins records on radio stations 94.5 and 97.9, produced iIlDallas. It's the first album Al-Jabbaar approached with the idea of "attacking" the beat.

“The effort that it takes to write a song, I was frustrated with that process,” Al-Jabbaar says. “So I just wanted to rap and let myself be free. There are a lot of topics on illDallas that I haven’t freely and openly spoke on beforehand so I really just allowed myself to be free and rap for myself.”

JuiseGod, which was released a couple of weeks prior to illDallas, is a smoking collection of Al-Jabbaar and Leroy's best, the piecing together of high-energy verses. The album also boasts features from other stand-out Dallas artists such as Jason Lyric, Slim Gravy and Que P.

One song that was noticeably missing from either album is Al-Jabbaar’s joint record featuring Dallas artist ClassikMussik and legendary UGK member Bun B, "PICTURE ME ROLLIN."

“That is the hardest song that I have ever done,” Al-Jabbaar says about the OG Leo-produced track. “I be so focused on the work and getting it done that I didn’t even realize what that meant to my career until now. The past few months I have been dealing with people using me to get cool points with other people and they used the Bun B song to do it.”

Al-Jabbaar says some naysayers can’t believe that an underground artist not only has a record with Bun B but one that absolutely slaps, too.

"My little brother was at work and he was talking about rappers with one of his co-workers, and he showed him the ['PICTURE ME ROLLIN'] video and he didn’t even believe I was his brother," the rapper says.

And those who did believe it wouldn't stop calling. After the Bun B song got radio play, Al-Jabbaar says he was flooded with calls and texts from numerous people who wanted to congratulate him. That wasn’t the first time an Al-Jabbaar record has been played on the airwaves, but it was the first time one of Al-Jabbaar's tracks was gaining traffic he could not keep up with.

“Being on the radio is always crazy,” Al-Jabbaar says. “Nine times out of 10 if I get played on Dallas radio I already know it is in the air, but with the Bun B record it was happening without me knowing it. And that is a blessing because it is very hard to get any spins on Dallas radio.”

“Currently we have a representation musically for the more darker street shit and I want to shine a light more so on the intellectual Afrocentric side of Dallas hip-hop culture." –Rakim Al-Jabbaar

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Al-Jabbaar's songs are streamed by people worldwide and DJ Premier spins his songs on Sirius XM’s Shade 45. DJ Premier, who is regarded as one of the greatest hip-hop DJ’s of all time, has worked with artists such as Snoop Dogg, The Notorious B.I.G. and Kanye West. Al-Jabbar says the DJ was the first person to ever play his song "Supertight" on the radio.

“To me, and the type of music I like to listen to and create, it don’t get no bigger than DJ Premier,” Al-Jabbaar says. “He's on Shade 45, and that’s worldwide, that’s not just getting played in Dallas. And because of people like him I got fans in Europe and countries I can’t even pronounce.”

Al-Jabbaar says he is focused on bigger goals while remaining true to his organic hip-hop roots. It's a genre, he believes, in which some artists seem to strip away a lot of its core elements. The name illDallas represents illuminating the more intellectual side of local hip-hop.

“Currently we have a representation musically for the more darker street shit, and I want to shine a light more so on the intellectual Afrocentric side of Dallas hip-hop culture,” Al-Jabbaar says. “I feel like Erykah Badu represents that, but somehow we got so far from that.”

Al-Jabbaar is ready to make that next leap and venture beyond Dallas’ rare air of legendary musical talent. If you haven’t seen him live you should catch on before you're late to the party. It's only a matter of time before he ends back up on another world tour.

“I feel like I’m at a point where I’ve done everything I can do locally and when you get to that point you start thinking about how do you break out of this local hamster wheel,” Al-Jabbaar says.

Even though he's still promoting his last two releases, Al-Jabbaar says he will drop yet another release on June 21, Big Baby Thanos. On May 21, he is throwing an illDallas show where he will be performing the album live in Deep Ellum.

illDallas will eventually be regarded as one of the greatest bodies of work to be released by an artist in the city. Al-Jabbaar says there are many people to thank for that: DJ Snake, producers MouseQuake and Jah Born, publicist Sarah Badran and musician Stone Mecca.

"And anyone else who’s assisted me along the way,” Al-Jabbaar says. “I’m forever grateful. illDallas proves I’m a Top 5 emcee.”
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Malen “Mars” Blackmon has been a contributor to the Observer since 2019. Entrenched in Southern California’s music and culture at an early age, he wrote and recorded music until he realized he wasn’t cut out for the music industry and turned to journalism. He enjoys driving slowly, going to cannabis conventions and thinking he can make sweatpants look good with any outfit.

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