Erfan - “Az Khaane taa Goor”

M4 Records
2007 (1386)

While the RAP element of the HIP HOP culture was introduced to the Iranian music already back in early 90’s through a more light-hearted approach by acts like SANDY, it was first in recent years that it was seriously converted and “Persianized” in the domestic UNDERGROUND MUSIC movement. A movement which was until the overnight crackdown a couple of months ago dominated by mainly RAPPERS, names like ZedBazi, Pishro, Amir Tatalo and Felakat who attended to a Persian version of the MAINSTREAM HIP HOP that is practised in the Western entertainment industry. However at the same time the critical potential of this music gave birth to a new breed of rappers like Yas and Hichkas who in turn led the music lyrically towards a more socio-politically aware and conscious stance, a provocative branch (of HIP HOP) which is currently put under arrest inside the country! Meanwhile in US their Iranian-American counterparts struggle to bring the same music MAINSTREAM and as the first to have a commercial release on a record label is Erfan. Iranian-born and US-based, the 23 years old Erfan began to study his mother-tongue and culture at an early age. In his musical debut titled “Az Khaane taa Goor” Erfan attempts to explore the encounter and entwining of his Iranian heritage with the American life by dressing his poetry in a HIP HOP fashion. Written and composed by mainly Erfan himself “Az Khaane taa Goor” features also material by Amir (A-plus), Afra, Khashayar and Sahand. The album contains 11 tracks even though on the cover only 10 tracks are credited for! Released on the newly branched out Mystery 4’s record company.

The album opens with the RAPID FIRE RAPPING “Intro” building suspension!

“Khatte Man” is a CATCHY song with a touch of FOLK and West Coast’s Electro-FUNK flow. Serving Erfan as his “My Way”!

Now to the song that introduced Erfan to the MAINSTREAM audience through its controversial music video! “Sad Ghassam” is a nationalist-patriotic manifest of a young Iranian-American and representative of the generation growing up outside Iran!

Erfan’s route to his passion and subject of affection, his music, was a bumpy road as presented in the log called “Jaade”! Another CATCHY “my way” song with an excellent chorus. I’m not sure whether its Erfan himself who does the chorus but since its not declared otherwise in its credits I assume so and wish to hear him singing more in his songs.

To reflect over the power of the “matter” or trendily put “chi-ching” and “bling bling” in today’s world of social rifts and injustices comes “Maaye”!

One of the more different tracks on the album is “Emshab”. A song on the man-woman relationship which deviates positively from the main path of the album and its thematic/stylistic mainstream! Again we hear someone singing and again it’s a positive feature to enjoy!

“Bia Bia” is a PARTY jam with the West Coast sound and the generic Arabic influences imbedded! Most of the songs on this album are shorter than the Iranian industry average, this song however could have benefited from a longer running-time due to its nature!

Next comes a raging song called “Koor” with lyrics directed ambivalently at either the ignorant blinder-bearers of society or some kind of territory-marking and “dissback” at a certain fellow RAPPER?! Your guess is as good as mine! A CATCHY and well-produced song otherwise.

Another different track which stands out thematically with its “romantic” content. The song called “Jodaa” features also a lovely guest performance by Mahshid!

“Bezaar Began”, a song with the G-FUNK vibe of the West Coast and a declaration of independence from public/peer pressure!

Last comes a “hidden song” not included in the track listing, most likely due to a misprint! “Jaazebe” is another “dissback” or better said “dissing” song, this time more explicitly and more directed at the industry as a whole!? If a rapper needs to show some “cocky attitude” instead of humbleness in order to be taken seriously as a rapper then this does it! I for one was put off by this single song, a true ANTI-CLIMAX which makes it difficult for me now to take the rest of the album seriously! For being of such an extremely boastful nature its ironic how this track managed to have itself fallen off the track list!

I’m not sure whether Erfan is the artist’s actual birth-name or if it’s a picked stage-name! If the former then his parents must have known that their son would turn up to be an artist or better said a poet, since its what Erfan is and his name meaning “(eastern) mystique” is a rather suitable and catchy name for such an artist. Yes, Erfan’s everyday (street) poetry is his mighty Excalibur while the rest of the music is rather simple and kept to a minimum creation- and production-wise! But even though the lyrics are rich and powerful Erfan’s vocal performance doesn’t always do them justice by delivering them with less expression than wished for! At times his voice lacks that boost and push that the straightforwardness of his lyrics need in order to hit the bull’s-eye! His voice is masculine enough and promises strength initially but it tends to hold back on it when its finally down to the wire!

Although Hichkas’s magnificent “Jangale Aasfaalt” was the first independent/underground Iranian HIP HOP album to hit the market, redefine the Persian RAP and herald the movement inside the country, Erfan’s “Az Khaane taa Goor” is the first commercially produced and released album that has the power to pave way for its likes in a MAINSTREAM market. It promises a lot from a generation far away from Iran, but not in its heart! A generation who, despite the distance, is passionate and focused enough to embrace its mother-tongue and culture. When was the last time we heard such thought-through lyrical material and risky fresh genre being delivered by an LA-artist on an LA-label?!! It was so long ago that I for one don’t remember! So “Az Khaane taa Goor” is a ventilating breeze in an industry where things have stayed the same for far too long! In an industry in dire need of a musical diversity. An industry that MUST stop underestimating the younger generations and instead starting to believe and invest in them! And I’m happy to see that Erfan’s “Az Khaane taa Goor” is a solid step in the right direction!

Note: thanks to Erfan for sending us the album to review.

Overall Performance: ++
Artistic Ambition: +++
Commercial Potential: ++
Technical Quality: ++
Aesthetic Presentation: +
Ethical Adherence: +++
[ +++ > --- ]

Review by: Pourya E.

Reviews described herein are mere opinions, and must be construed in that manner only! In other words they are not absolute!