Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The Hope of Hip-Hop is White Muslim From Minnesota
Brother Ali's The Truth is Here.
I only give the highest compliment to Brother Ali’s Truth Is Here. Respect Brother Ali. Buy this album.
Real As Can Be
The laidback bluesy beat catches you off guard, just as the well-evolved flow. This artist, and I don’t say that word lightly, artist, uses lyrics as a paint brush hitting the listener with the honest reality of being on the road and the unfamiliarity of being home. Often, picking up an album of someone you do not know of is a disappointment. Then there’s this. This is … Grade: Special.
This synth heavy beat is not going to have you calling Ant in order to immediately order up an album and dub him the next Kanye. However, it’s workable. And Brother Ali puts in work like a Chinaman building a railroad. The flow is about the persecuted and the refusal to be subjugated. Ali flows for “the slave that drowns in the middle passage, I’m Chief Sitting Bull at the hands of a savage, I’m John Brown standing, both guns blasting, crying freedom something must happen.” I don’t know who this dude is but .. Grade: Hot Damn.
First, the beat has an inherent crip walk. In a song that is about prison from a prisoners perspective, in a format that Brother Ali adopts that is a letter to him from Little Rodney, genius. The song is very listenable, but because of the intricacies and well crafted lyrics, one must listen to the song multiple times in order to fully appreciate the song. You can listen just once, but why? Grade: Strong plus.
Palm The Joker
A beat that brazen pushes Little Rodney aside and proclaims it’s presence in a gospel-esque anthem. Brother Ali meets Ant, the producer, with an amazing rhyme about the self-created plight of the inner city community. But Brother Ali rises past the occasion through hard work, by pointing out the strengths and the weaknesses of the poor, and advises a strategy for the poor that would make Jay Gould proud. This kind of bravery deserves one grade. Grade: Lyrical acclaim.
Okay. This has just got to stop. How is he gonna place a dance track on the song without the floss or a saccharine message. On this track Ant practices the dark arts by mixing his soul with that of a blues player, and Ali decides to play the foil, mixing God’s righteousness with his own swagger. I can’t give this grade twice on one disc but I have to. Grade: Extra Special.
Baby Don’t Go
This hurts. No one that I haven’t heard of can’t be this nice. Lupe watch out. Someone else is just dropping science. Could hip-hop have found one of it’s heros in Wisconsin? WTF? The beat walks through with the swagger of a college Division One player guaranteed to go to the NBA in a month, but is still on campus. Brother Ali vastly elaborates and creates an entire song out of the idea LL Cool J put forward on “Loungin’,” proclaiming for four minutes that “Man made the money, money never made the man.” Grade: Super nice.
Talkin’ My Shit
The original Foxy Brown shows up on this track. Thanks Ant. He’s just talking shit. He’s a guy feeling himself and decides to let us in on his psyche. With snide pointed lines at other rappers like “He’s got his fist up, still trying to get his dick sucked. Some bitch,” Wow. Why don’t we just stop here. Grade: Madd hetro, aka Super Straight.
The Believers – featuring Slug
The beat doesn’t grab you immediately but it grows on you quickly through the flows of Brother Ali and Slug. The beat is like a train station in Chicago, everyone going their separate ways but in a peculiar rhythm. Brother Ali picks up on this off-beat beat and raps about his faith, but not in a corny way, but rather genuinely, a faith that isn’t sold on TV or pedaled in politics, but rather is the faith of a real believer, something that truly sustains his soul. Slug represents as well, but this is Ali’s record. That’s clear. Grade: Solidly Aiight … Aiight in a real good way.
“Brothers and sisters I know we had a good time this evening,” Brother Ali begins. I quickly have to agree, “Yes, we did.” In this track he brings it back, and slows it down, like a DJ at the end of the party. Except he is giving the listener something to go home with. “A lot of people waiting for their big break to make it. You gonna spend your whole life waiting till you learn that anything given to a man can be taken. Only this ever really yours is really earned.” He continues just to drop relentless soul sustaining science. Grade: Spiritual food.