Brother Ali – Us Review


I have stated before that record reviews are not my favourite form of blog posts.  It has just been a weird month ofr music with lots of my anticipated releases leaking.  Jay and Cudi dropped some techno styled cutting edge hip-hop, Raekwon dropped a follow up to one of the best albums of all time (Only Built For Cuban Linx) and it actually lived up to the hype…now it is Brother Ali’s turn.

Brother Ali is just a consistent dude – his albums are always solid, so I have high expectations for his newest album – Us.  Once again Brother Ali leaves all the production up to Ant.  Oh yeah, and for novelty factor – Brother Ali is one of the few albino rappers I can think of (Krondon being the only other in fact).  Anyways, hopefully Brother Ali stuck to his formula of lyric heavy raps with soulful beats.

  1. Intro – This is cool, a church chorus singing and Chuck D and Stokley Williams talking about race, religion and class.
  2. The Preacher – Following the church chorus, the second track is title The Preacher.  It is not a church hymn.  The melodic church chorus singing is broken by some strong horns, with some rock like guitar licks.  Brother Ali comes out ripping the track – a cool quick flow and some crazy lyrics that paint Ali as the preacher and his raps the sermon.
  3. Crown Jewel – This track slows it back down a bit, with a cool jazz breezy jazz sample -heavy on the horns.  The first verse is Ali at his best, full of confidence and enjoying the world around him.  Things take a change on the second verse where he verbally destroys someone who had apparently wronged him in the past.  Great stuff.
  4. House Keys – A haunting vocal sample, is paired with an ethereal beat.  The beat finally kicks in fully about halfway through his first beat…just some sharp snares but they round the beat out nicely.  Brother Ali raps a chilling story about needing money so he moved to a smaller apartment below his larger one…and then ended up robbing the people in his old apartment.
  5. Fresh Air – This beat kind of took me by surprise, really heavy on the slap bass on this one – very upbeat – cool vocal sample though.  Brother Ali always has tracks like this, where the beat itself even sends out a positive vibe.  His rhymes match the beat – it is a celebration of his accomplishments things like sold out shows, and buying his first house.
  6. Tight Rope – A cool piano intro, then some more electric guitar added to it – simple beat but impressive.  Bother Ali has a great knack for story telling.  Great concept on this son – people walking a “tight rope”T between two lives.  The first verse tells about the struggles of a young Somalian immigrant…dealing with his new world, and his old world.  The second verse is from the view of a child who spends his time living between divorced parents.  The third is from the view from a gay adolescent living with his religious parents.
  7. Breaking Dawn – I love beats like this – sounds like some old native music almost…maybe like some real old country with a native feel anyways.  Great beat – so simple, yet slightly sinister.  Brother Ali continues his crazy story telling.  This song is from the view of a slave.
  8. The Travelers – This beat doesn’t flow well with the one above it, some nice sounding steel drums are drowned out by a flat bass that sounds uninspiring.  Ali saves it from complete mediocrity though.  He sticks to story telling and spins an interesting story that seems to take a shot at racism.
  9. Babygirl – Ant redeems himself with this beat – simple hard snares, with a warbling guitar sample.  Brother Ali sticks to advocating for people in distress, he doesn’t steer away from controversial issues.  On this song he plays the part of a lover of a woman who had been molested as a child.  He switches seamlessly from his and her viewpoint.
  10. Round Here – A pretty generic beat from Ant – it isn’t bad per se but it is kind of boring.  A filler beat for sure.  Brother Ali raps about himself here – classic rap posturing and braggadocio. He really rips this track though – great wordplay.
  11. Bad Mufucka Pt. II – This beat reminds me very slightly of the west coast.  It also has a slightly reggae feel to it.  I think has to be the king of knowing when to add a guitar lick to his beat, uses the sound very well here.  Again Brother Ali is pumping himself up here, calling out all competitors.
  12. Best@It – Wow,a Freeway and Joell Ortiz appearance – this surprised me a bit. Freeway is a pretty well known name, and it is very cool to see him dropping a verse on a Brother Ali album – shows me that Brother Ali is building a bigger following.  All 3 men drop solid verses over another kind of generic rap beat. The beat does switch up on Brother Ali’s verse and it is much smoother – again a reggae feel.  Brother Ali had by far the best verse on this as well.
  13. Games – This beat is pretty cool – nothing ground breaking but it has got a good tempo. I think it has a cool organ sample as well, although it might be live instrumentation.  Brother Ali stays socially conscious – taking shots at people settling and living beyond their means – instead of struggling to overcome and become truly well off.
  14. Slippin Away – There is something about the flat bass that Ant has used on this album a lot that is just boring to me – this beat is ok though – laid back and smooth at least.  I think Brother Ali is rapping about his childhood on this one and some of the people he had met along his way and their struggles.  The third verse is especially chilling, when Ali raps about his friend who dropped out of school, and was waiting for Ali to make it big in rap, so he could work for him.  After a tour Ali came back to take him up on the offer, but the man had been shot a month earlier.
  15. You Say (Puppy Love) – I am pretty sure this song starts with some ukulele.  If so, awesome.  The beat is kind of sappy, but iti s still cool – I think it is supposed to be that way given the title of the song.  It also makes sense considering the subject matter, because Ali is obviously rapping about his first love.
  16. Us – The outro brings back the choir chorus from the intro and adds Brother Ali rhyming over it – love how he opens his rhyme:

I started rhyming just to be somebody
to make people notice me at the party
and not be just the new kid thats albino
make them say yeah I know, but have you heard him rhyme though

Another great album this month and another great album from Brother Ali.  I know he isn’t a household name but he is easily one of the best out there rapping right now. He is on another level lyrically.  His voice is a little Kermit like sometimes but I can easily overlook it.   Ant has provided better production for Brother Ali in the past, but he is still fairly good here, just slips into generic territory a couple times. Brother Ali rhymes carry this album though and make it a must listen.

The Man The Myth The Legend

  • Anonymous

    Awesome review, but with "You Say (Puppy Love)," I think Brother Ali is rapping about a close family member. You can briefly catch him saying "sis" in there.

  • Brother Ali reppin Minneapolis & RSE lovely, again anothere artsist providing the community with choices.

  • Anonymous

    Nice! Review. You are quite good at this and I hope that you will do Reviews more often NOW cos you really got an ear for good music and I like your beat describing skills especially, on-point I may add. I'm tuned-in ....

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