Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Reviews:: Brother Ali - The Undisputed Truth

When the Ack, the man who does most of the heavy merd-lifting here at the hill, asks me about a particular MC or group, I know it's safe to assume said MC or group has a healthy buzz going amongst the denizens of the indie music world. So it was a welcome development when he asked me about Brother Ali. I was a big fan of Ali's 2003 debut, Shadows On The Sun, but I had heard basically nothing about him for years, so I was happy to hear people were talking about him again. Considering he was homeless for a while, I'm guessing Ali might be a little happier than I am to see that his new album, The Undisputed Truth, is getting some healthy exposure.

Considering what Ali's been through since 2003, the fact that he's albino might no longer be the most interesting part of his story. Who am I kidding, the fact that he's albino is always going to get the attention, but he's gone through some heavier drama recently. He got divorced from his wife of 10 years, worked to gain custody of his son, and was homeless for a period of time. As you can imagine, these experiences were certainly on his mind when he was writing songs for his latest Rhymesayers release:

"I wanted to make an album that gives you no choice but to feel what im saying at that given time", Ali explains of The Undisputed Truth. "I made choices that sent me through a lot of struggle in the past few years and Ant and I have made music that really communicates the exact feeling of those situations."

He isn't kidding either, Ali is such a passionate writer and MC, that you awlays feel him. It doesn't matter if it's a braggadocios/reppin' real hip-hop song (Lookin' At Me Sideways, Listen Up), a political song (A Letter From The Government, Uncle Sam Goddamn), a heartfelt song about his marriage (Walkin' Away), or a song for his son (Faheem) - you believe him every time. I mean, listen to those last two songs, they are so well written and honest that they're as moving as any current songs you could play for me.

The Ant Ali mentions in the quote above is Atmosphere producer Ant, who also produces for Brother Ali and makes a huge contribution to The Undisputed Truth, mainly by staying out of the way. What I mean is that the beats on this album are solid from start to finish, but they never overshadow Ali, so you never really focus on the beats, and that's rare in this day & age.

But the production does indeed deserve mentioning because Ali has such a commanding presence on the mic that if the beats didn't match his energy, you'd certainly notice. Whether it's the bluesy guitar licks on Puzzle or Take Me Home, the frantic soul sound of Lookin' At Me Sideways, the bongos and swaying reggae sound on Freedom Ain't Free, or the bittersweet vibe created by the keys and whistle on Walkin' Away, Ant keeps things consistently funky while providing Ali with a variety of beats.

Usually in these reviews, I run through a few highlight tracks, but I don't see the point here. After listening to it a few times, this is just a great album from start to finish. So trying to highlight certain songs would probably lead me to talk about every song on the album, and I'm too lazy for that. So instead I'll simply tell you to go buy this. Albums like this are the reason I still check for new hip hop releases. I know, it sounds like high praise indeed but I think it's warranted. Have a listen for yourself, I think you'll agree.

mp3:: Truth Is

mp3:: Freedom Ain't Free

mp3:: Lookin' At Me Sideways

Posted at 2:05 PM by naedoo :: 1 comments

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At 12:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

Thought you'd enjoy my Ali article linked here:




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