Friday, April 28, 2006

Six Degrees of Idris Muhammad

As I was driving around town yesterday, I looked at the collection of CD's cluttering up the passenger seat of the Sentra. I suddenly noticed the similarities between the cover art of Nas' Illmatic and Idris Muhammad's The Power of Soul. Both feature an image of the artist superimposed over an urban setting.

Illmatic is a bonafide classic and should find a warm home in any hip hop fan's collection. The Power of Soul is marketed as a Jazz Funk classic, but I'm not yet convinced. As a drummer, Idris Muhammad definitely has the chops, but I've never really been into Bob James, who's responsible for much the the arranging here. At times the album drifts off into light 70's funk that I can almost hear as bed music on Magnum P.I. or The Love Boat. The fourth and final cut, however, is a Grover Washington Jr. piece that does truly groove.

The coincidence is that I bought the Idris record on a recent trip to the bookstore when I couldn't find the album I came for. That record was one by Olu Dara, who happens to be the father of Nas and who also appears on Illmatic.


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