As the story goes, Brother Ali was an aspiring emcee, kicking rocks around the streets of Minneapolis, MN, when a friend gave him a dub of Gang Starr’s Moment Of Truth, with assorted Rhymesayers flavors on the b-side. Eventually letting those tracks blast in his Walkman headphones, he found that he was enjoying hip-hop again, after losing faith in the music with the deaths of 2Pac and Biggie. Fast-forward a few years later, and Brother Ali’s got two critically acclaimed fan favorite releases on Rhymesayers Entertainment, with Shadows On The Sun and The Champion EP. As 2007 kicks off, Brother Ali brings The Undisputed Truth - perhaps his most personal and focused release yet.
Produced entirely by Atmosphere’s Ant, the album kicks off with the abrasive “Whatcha Got”, where Ali brings exactly what he has to offer, in the form of blistering battle raps that immediately grab the listener’s attention. Filled with poignant, clever lines, not to mention a trademarked confidence and delivery, Ali’s style is all on his own. Again on “Truth Is”, Ali breaks the wall down with more freestyle braggadocio, backed by Ant’s bouncy reggae loops.
But while Ali can no doubt rock a mic (not to mention a crowd), he uses The Undisputed Truth to tackle more important issues, in both the microcosm of his own life, and macrocosm of the world around him. Problems with the current political system are touched upon many times on the record, bringing back memories of 90′s solo Ice Cube records, which obviously had some kind of influence on Ali, both sonically and lyrically. “Letter From The Government” channels Public Enemy’s “Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos”, while Ali speaks from the perspective of a drafted young man, fighting for a country that doesn’t fight for him. “Uncle Sam Goddamn” is a brilliantly penned look on the “war on drugs”, which Ali dubs “Shit, the government’s an addict / with a billion dollar a week, kill-brown-people habit”.
On the personal side, the soulful “Daylight” finds Ali tackling his critics, and more directly the “race issue”, which the albino emcee sees as irrelevant: “They ask me if I’m black or white / I’m neither / race is a made up thing / I don’t believe in it.” He opens up and reveals details about his divorce on “Walking Away”, while struggling to be father and an entertainer on “Faheem”. Things end up in his favor on “Ear To Ear”, the album’s closer, another soulful track where Ali finds happiness with a fresh new outlook on life.
The only real fault here is that Ali bigs up his Muslim religion all over the album, which, if you aren’t Muslim, can get tired. However, like Rakim before him (who actually has a lot of kind words about Ali on the album’s bonus DVD), it’s done in a way where he draws his own strength from it, not as if he’s trying to force the listeners to sign up. Also, Ant’s production here is different from the raw boom-bap you might have found on Atmosphere’s “You Can’t Imagine….” LP, however these more soulful sample selections match Ali’s swagger perfectly. Despite these minor gripes (and they are minor, considering the overall quality and consistancy of this record), Brother Ali further cements his legacy with another solid LP. Get the Truth.
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