Review ·

Brother Ali's life story is famously unconventional, and if nothing else, he most likely will always be the greatest black Albino Muslim hip-hop star from Minneapolis. The more crucial part of Ali's life story is the fact that as he moved around Midwestern schools with his rather exceptional life circumstances, hip-hop was the only constant. Five years of success have proven that there is a place in the world for Brother Ali, and he has reached a peak: Us is his best album to date. It's a pure joy from start to finish, perhaps the only album of the past year to provide that all-too-important role for music, and perhaps the first hip-hop album ever to provide that kind of release.

 

On Us, we have finally seen what happens when a generation raised on hip-hop grows up. More than just a dance-floor vehicle or a political soapbox, hip-hop has provided Brother Ali the kind of creative support upon which to base a remarkably loving album. There are several flashes of resentment on the album. (Where would hip-hop be without a little righteousness?) But the resentment Ali talks about—false assumptions, bad behavior, and bad taste—are universal, and they make the happy endings in his songs that much more deserved. Us is more personal than the more politically influenced Undisputed Truth, and its politics are best expressed by Chuck D. on the opening track "Brother and Sisters," who calls Ali “a soldier in the war for love."

 

Ali, both a lover and a fighter, never lets up, and the album survives both the most casual and the most intense listen. Normally, this kind of release in hip-hop is fleeting, simplistic, or better classified in another genre. Us is certainly infused with funk, soul and blues, but it's an undeniably masterful execution of the kind of musical meter that's always been essential to hip-hop, be it Afrika Bambaata or N.W.A. Brother Ali is literate, opinionated, but not particularly angry, nor does he feel the need to make his music cerebral.

 

  • Brothers and Sisters [ft. Chuck D and Stokley Williams]
  • The Preacher
  • Crown Jewel
  • House Keys
  • Fresh Air
  • Tight Rope
  • Breakin' Dawn
  • The Travelers
  • Babygirl
  • 'Round Here
  • Bad Mufucker Pt. II
  • Best@it [ft. Freeway and Joell Ortiz]
  • Games
  • Slippin' Away
  • You Say (Puppy Love)
  • US [ft. Stokley Williams]

For the third straight album, Ant of Atmosphere is solely handling production duties for Brother Ali. The collaboration between the two Rhymesayers artists started with 2003's Shadows on the Sun and continued on 2007's The Undisputed Truth, eventually making Brother Ali one of the most recognizeable names in the Midwest underground hip hop scene. While Ali is mostly know for his hard-hitting incendiary tracks, the lead single, which is also titled "Us," is a soulful, organ-based tune that recalls some of Ali's more introspective work, such as "Forest Whitaker" and "Rain Water." The album includes guests spots from Chuck D, Joell Ortiz, Freeway and fellow Minnesota native, Stokley Williams, lead singer of Mint Condition.

Pitbull - Rebelution Sally Shapiro My Guilty Pleasure

This album is the sh-t! Brother Ali is the man!

www.myspace.com/sickbeezy

Sick Bird

Album of the year in my opinion.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Andrew_Martin/me.jpg Andrew_Martin

Top to bottom, this is excellent. A fine year for Rhymesayers, between this and the P.O.S. record.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/mfiander/profile.jpg mfiander

And the BK-One and Toki Wright albums, too!

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Andrew_Martin/me.jpg Andrew_Martin

I should probably stop sleeping on this one and give it a listen.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Al/batmulletjpg.jpg Al

I think it's a good album, but it doesn't match 'Shadows of the Sun' for me.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/daba/me-bermudajpg.jpg Daba

I think it goes beyond what 'Shadows on the Sun' accomplished, though that's an amazing record, too. He stepped outside of his autobiographical steez and rapped about other people. And he did so very, very well.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Andrew_Martin/me.jpg Andrew_Martin

I think Soulja Boy's Deandre Way LP will crush this.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/thestorfer/1202393jpeg.jpeg andross

Chill guys, it's not a competition.

Oh wait, it's hip-hop.

Carry on then.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Ethan/nirvana-corporate-rock-whoresjpg.jpg EStan

Hahaha, well put.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Andrew_Martin/me.jpg Andrew_Martin

Don't forget about Birdman's Priceless. It is dope, dawgz.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/thestorfer/1202393jpeg.jpeg andross

Thanks Andross. Great point.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/daba/me-bermudajpg.jpg Daba

After reading the review I thought this was going to be a sappy love album or something. There's definitely some positive soul here, but also enough grit in the story telling to keep me interested. Dude displays some great range in subject matter on this record and has some of the smoothest delivery I've heard in a while. I still think he's better when he's pissed off though. All in all, I'm gonna agree that this is one of the better things I've heard this year.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Al/batmulletjpg.jpg Al

Have y'all heard the New Boyz album? Album of the millennium, fo sho.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/thestorfer/1202393jpeg.jpeg andross

Yeah, not sappy at all. Joy is a very different thing from love.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Ethan/nirvana-corporate-rock-whoresjpg.jpg EStan

Yeah, good point there, Al and EStan. I was nervous Ali was gonna be a lil' corny on here after "Fresh Air" dropped as a single. But yeah, I was wrong. Also, his verse on "Best@It" is unbelievable.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Andrew_Martin/me.jpg Andrew_Martin

Fine, go ahead and act like I'm not on here. The greatest rap album of all time will surely be Lil Jon's Crunk Rock.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/thestorfer/1202393jpeg.jpeg andross

"he most likely will always be the greatest black Albino Muslim hip-hop star from Minneapolis."

Both his parents are caucasian

Dan

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