Brother Ali

The second full album from Brother Ali sees him turn a recent divorce, being a single dad and coping with losing his mother to cancer into more than a few tasty nuggets of hard hitting, intelligent hip hop. Since his debut Shadows On The Sun, Brother Ali has often become a breath of fresh air in this hip hop game blending well crafted lyrics with bass heavy, rolling beats. As a devout Muslim his raps have always been very earnest which set my alarm bells ringing from the start. While the constant tirade of thug rap bores the hell out of me there's something about rap with an overly positive message that makes me cringe, even if what they are saying is what I believe. But Brother Ali repeatedly avoids this pit fall often peppering this outlook with normal behavior like swearing and the odd bit of comedy.

To be honest, Shadows On The Sun blended these things more successfully and this album is starting to show signs of over-seriousness, a road Blackalicious took a while ago and their creativity has never recovered. A lot has happened to Ali since his debut which would explain this shift. His now ex-wife seems to have tried to kill him and her demise has left him in sole custody of his son, for the whole story see Walking Away. There has also been a war or two (Letter From The Government.)

But running through all this is what makes Brother Ali so individual, his flow. He has a style that can bring to mind Nelly or 50 Cent but is at the same time totally unique and with Atmosphere's Ant concocting deep, thundering beats the result is addictive. He can alter this style for slower beats (Here) making them intimate and then rise gloriously to beats like the awesome The Puzzle or the fierce Listen Up. The album is very well paced giving the listener time to recover with light numbers like Take Me Home and Uncle Sam Goddamn the kind of bumping swagger that would be ideal to bounce to in a low-ride ...if only my Nissan could handle it.

Though not quite so appealing as his debut, The Undisputed Truth is better than most and being an albino muslim rapper he can't help to make hip hop that looks at things differently. As long as he can keep his faith to a footnote and maintain his unique ability to spit the hard rhymes as well as the laid back tracks then he will continue to be a worthy light in these dark times.