Ameer, stylised as AMXXR, is an American rapper, one affiliated, at the moment, with one of the biggest producers in the genre, Pete Rock. Those who maybe go a bit further back than a lot of the current generation will, of course, know the latter as one of influential rap duo, Pete Rock & CL Smooth.
Ameer’s existing discography includes The 25th Hour – Enter The Zone (2007), The New Dream (2009), Gone Til Novembuary (2010), Crash-ARP1 (2010), Only Built For Digital Links (2010), The Love And Hip Hip Memoirs (2011), The Big Picture (2012) and AMEERica (2013). Those with curious eyes will notice the Raekwon reference, alluding to his classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… album.
In more recent times, Ameer appeared on Torch’s “Supa Hard” (2014), and Amina Buddafly’s “Do You Feel The Same” (2015). His new project, Pete Rock Presents Peace Beloved, is described as “a 3-pack offering from AMXXR which includes a book, movie and music”.
On this record, out Friday, September 16, Rock takes Ameer under his wing for production duties, some handled by Rock himself, some handled by others like The Heatmakerz and Jae Orch, with cameos from upcoming artists Shy Boogs, Mally Stakz and Fred The Godson.
That music opens with “Superstar”, and is like something straight off the score of an Italian American gangster movie. It tinkles away, calm and relaxed, yet, in some respects, is bleak and foreboding. The lyrics are a tad deeper than the usual fare from the mainstream of this genre, these days. They seem to despair at a cruel, cruel world. Having said that, prior to the fadeout, there’s talk of finding oneself, whether that be a quest through knowledge or religion.
“Revelations ‘A’”, featuring Sahlence, has pounding bass with illuminating flourishes of string. It somewhat carries the theme of the previous, frustrated with religion of a white Jesus, for example. It’s also interspersed with quotes urging for black pride, originating from what appears to be Nation of Islam seminars.
The halfway point, “Taking Chances”, featuring Spacey, begins with what is now famous female and high pitched plays of soulful samples, the kind of thing made famous by the production values of the likes of Kanye West. This then changes up with a prominent hook, sung by a man, this time round. It’s definitely a layered effort, and there’s much to pay attention to. It’s the kind of track that rewards the listener after numerous plays.
This is followed by “A Million Diamonds”, also featuring Spacey, which in turn carries on the previous track via that male vocal sample. Scratched yelps give it an oldschool vibe, and the lyrics seem to convey the lottery of life. What’s meant by that is when people strike it rich, financially in life, sometimes the other aspects, like wellbeing, are neglected. Going cash rich but, in the spiritual sense, becoming chakra poor.
Skip a few tracks, and you get “Til My Days Is Over”, featuring Mally Stakz. It opens with solemn piano and the slightly autotuned vocal hook of Stakz. The lyrics and delivery are earnest, serious and straight from the heart. Lines like, “ni**as pop bottles, but don’t take care of they moms”, convey the many frustrations of observing lives you’ve got no sway over.
The concluding “Peace Beloved” is a dreamy, spaced out effort with a backdrop that washes over the listener. It’s definitely worth its selection as the title track, with a mixture of big production and, again, as he’s done on the previous tracks, raps that show Ameer’s soul to be on his sleeve.
The album’s highlights for us have now been dealt with. Now here’s a quick, cursory glance over one track that almost made its way to full consideration; and another that this reviewer isn’t totally sold on, but sees why some would appreciate it. The former, “Keith Sweat”, featuring Shy Boogs, has that massive, clapping drum sound that renders it almost irresistible. It has romantically tragic piano, tinkling and longing like Ameer’s lyrics concerning love lost and whatnot.
“Manhattan Beach”, featuring Yung Global, on the other hand, has a house music, almost Dirty South vibe going on, neither of which this reviewer is a big fan of. Having said that, it could quite feasibly become a crowd floor filler in the clubs, and the like. It becomes acapella, quite briefly, packing in some lyrical intensity, serving as some sort of climatic crescendo. You can picture shapes thrown on the dancefloor being taken to a whole new level, at that point, there.
In conclusion, the ultimate highlights are the first two tracks, “Superstar” and “Revelations ‘A’”. At the other end, there’s the accomplished “Til My Days Is Over” and “Peace Beloved”. Then you’ve got “Taking Chances” and “A Million Diamonds” right in the middle, that segue into eachother, with that aforementioned repetition of the male vocal, like a pair of progressive rockers in the rap world.
“Keith Sweat”, as said, is almost worthy to be compared to the standards set by these six tracks. It’s good that only one track, “Manhattan Beach”, brings forth any particular grievance. Ameer, with this offering, has provided something intellectual yet aurally pleasing. Ameer’s Pete Rock Presents Peace Beloved can be bought from iTunes here.
Words by Andrew Watson