First thing first - Brother Ali is one of the best all around emcees working in hip hop today. His swagger on the stage and on the microphone, combined with his smart and emotional wordplay, along with a great musical sense, and a soulfulness steeped in what’s true to himself combine to make great music that can really touch the listener. This is not to say Ali is perfect, but it is to say that his music is capable in touching me in ways that few can.
On this release, Brother Ali is serving the same purpose that he did with the Champion EP - that is, to say, he’s giving his fans something to chew on before while the are awaiting the full length to drop. And if that means we’re going to get another Undisputed Truth, then I say I can’t wait for Street Preacher. But I’m getting ahead of myself. What about the EP at hand?
We start things of with a soulful, jazzy, laid back groove that Brother Ali uses as a catch-up song, filling all his fans on what’s been going on since they last heard from him. From there, we’re straight into more strong Ali material, evoking tales of making it in a world were people are oppressed, faith is tested, and if we all work together, we just might make it. Ant provides solid beats, playing to the ‘70s soul-funk styling of Ali’s delivery that makes for a natural pairing. The only really low point on the EP come on “Talking My Shit,” where Ali falls prey to weak lyrics that I would expect from some terrible wannabe emcee, with superfluous swearing and references to trying to get head. Maybe there’s supposed to be some irony there, but if so, I don’t think it really works there. It definitely stands out in that it’s the only track that I consistently skip over. Why, Brother? Otherwise, the EP really delivers what you want from a Brother Ali release - funky, empowering hip hop for those of us who have ever felt less than and want to strive for a better life.
Before I go, let me make a quick mention of the bonus DVD. It’s nothing so special that anyone but fans who already have vested interest would watch all of it (it’s a good concert, but not shot especially well), but the commentary track on the concert lends some good insight into Ali, especially when he performs “Dorian,” and tells the viewers about how he has learned about the damage using homophobic terms can do. One of the things that endeared me to Ali in the first place is not that he’s perfect, but he’s someone who’s always trying to improve himself, and if you take him to task on something like this, he’ll take it to heart and learn and grow.
|Title:||Brother Ali - Truth is Here|