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Record Review - Shafiq Husayn: Shafiq En' A-Free-Ka

Shafiq Husayn was a producer on Ice-T’s O.G. Original Gangster, and later became a member of Los Angeles group Sa-Ra Creative Partners, in addition to writing and producing beats for Erykah Badu. The music on his debut album, Shafiq En’ A-Free-Ka, often veers closer to the neo-soul and experimental sounds of Badu’s New Amerykah, Part One (4th World War), however, than Ice-T or the electro funk and rap on Sa-Ra’s discs. Husayn’s title references Kemetism, a new age spin on an ancient Egyptian religion, and the album’s lyrics focus on spirituality, metaphysics and existentialism. They are difficult to follow, but Husayn’s production is quite accessible, despite floating from jazz to hip-hop to downbeat techno, sometimes midsong. He has enlisted such singers as Bilal, Fatima and Jimetta Rose, many of whom bring a Badu-like flavor to the proceedings. Overall, it feels like the debut of a man who has evolved and may even have found his true calling. (Plug Research) 4 stars out of 5