Recording: Brother Ali – The Undisputed Truth

    Daily-grinding somewhere out in the Midwest, fading from the collective Slug-fandom memory after hitching a ride on the significantly more annoying emo-rapper’s tour bus, Brother Ali doesn’t have much of a home in the rep ‘n’ relate hip-hop scene, where consumers understandably bite harder onto specifics – identifiable story raps, sexcapades, product placement, hometown shout-outs, rival disses. After all, how many of us have the fat black Muslim albino, poor single father thing going on?

    But with hardly 20 seconds of a shivering intro to break the ice, Brother Ali storms the stage of his sophomore commercial full-length The Undisputed Truth, wraps his ghost-white sausage fingers around the cowering mic and begins a 15-track translation of his everyday grievances. Relatable or not, there’s no denying his towering command of the craft. Atmosphere’s better half, always-nimble producer Ant, keeps us tied to the beat as well: Ali’s rubbery powerhouse on opening track “”Whatcha Got”” (“”As clean as the nose on my face that I placed on the stone / Had to stake my claim to the throne””) is nearly drowned out by lightning bolts of electric guitar and bass as loud and excited to be back as he is.

    Sadly, by about track four – exhausted from the jazz-wavering, almost unnerving clip of track two and reggae-pop hip of track three, which murders the trend with dense clickety-clacks from Ant and is driven by grinding, tires-in-the-mud torture from Ali – we start to tune out his words. Depth-grazing and vaguely political lyrics fail to outshine the intensity of his superb, always-on-mark flow and an irresistibly matching beat. “”Fuck hearin’ me, I need you to feel me,”” the rapper begs snugly between verse and dropping chorus. Indeed, much of the connection is purely physical, but we never really hop onto his personal brainwave – although it’s certainly not for lack of enthusiasm.

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