This is the first time in his recorded career that Hassan Hamilton is more than just big. He’s always been the big guy on the mic. But now he’s made of himself a colossus. From the get-go, with “Test Me,” he turns a simple chorus into the clawed foot of a monster, the cinderblocks of his goofy reputation leveled beneath his words. It’s in no small part thanks to producer Professor Def, going as Neverending Story as he does Z-grade science fiction with his samples, its fruition an eerie twilight zone of dark sounds and distorted drums over which the throaty cut of Hassan’s voice holds court.
This is not the Hassan of Menace to Sobriety, his last release. This Hassan has been kicked too many times to stay down, and it’s time to speak up. It isn’t always poignant—“Sausage Fest” carries his lubricious reputation into the second half of the record since it is, still, a Hassan album—but it always hits dead center with the delivery of a decorated late-night-freestyle general. The collaboration with Def, and newfound support among the Brain Jelly music family, gave Fat, Black & Awesome the stones it needed to be a massive, magnificent tirade. And Hassan’s fans, green and veteran, are aurally reaping the benefits.