Anger, frustration, and an almost desperate pride infuse this debut disc from Bay Area-raised rapper Patriarch. Born into a Palestinian and North African family, his music nonetheless comes straight from the hard East Bay streets where he grew up listening to Spice1, E-40, and Tupac. Tracks like "Ride Thru Da Hood," "Pull Up," and "P-Stine Ryders" are all banging Bay joints, ready to rock the club or scraper, while "Never Leave Me Alone" and "Palestine" are heartfelt odes to the rapper's beloved grandmother and homeland, respectively. An eerily timely guest verse from San Quinn laments, "20 Black men murdered in the Western Addition ... " on "Float On" just as the Fillmore was ripped apart by another real round of warfare.
But there's hope and pride here, too. When was the last time we heard a song extolling the virtues of Arabic women? Patriarch shouts out the "Egyptian queens and Iraqi hotties" on "Aywah" and constantly warns against putting our trust in the government of Bush and Cheney. "Why can't we live all as equals?" Patriarch asks on the chorus of "Why Do They Hate Me?" And why indeed? Son of a Refugee offers a glimpse into the mind of a heretofore unheard voice in hip-hop music the sizeable Arab-American community, and of one young Bay Area rapper's voice in particular. TophOne