Brother Ali’s latest album hits the scene
April 20, 2007
The idealist in me would like to believe many of the race barriers have been broken down within the music industry. Eminem is white and one of the biggest names out there. Travis McCoy, lead singer of Gym Class Heroes, is black and becoming one of the most well-known front man in today’s indie scene.
But there is still a lot of respect that has to be earned by musicians who move into genres where they are not usually heard. Brother Ali and his new album "The Undisputed Truth" will not only break through those remaining race barriers, but the entire rap scene as well.
Brother Ali does not associate himself with any race and really, he has no reason to.
As an albino Muslim rapper from Minneapolis, he has had to create a completely new place for his music to belong. With help from another uptown hip-hop wonder, Atmosphere, that place is growing to hold more fans than anyone could have anticipated.
His message of love and understanding through confusing times speaks beyond people’s skin color to their souls. The first single off the album, "Truth Is," is a raw look at Brother Ali’s determination to be successful, not only in his music, but in all aspects of his life.
The beat is not especially complicated or interesting, but it’s catchy and sticks in your head.
What I found more interesting was the sample voice used in the background.
Though it just echoes Ali’s chorus, I felt that it reflected the rapper’s mid-African and Islamic roots through the tone and inflection, without overpowering Brother Ali’s own words.
Although Ali puts his religious beliefs at the forefront of many of his songs, his preaching does not come off as patronizing — as if he is trying to convert his listeners to a particular religion.
Rather, he raps about the life lessons we all come by no matter what culture we learn them in.
"The Undisputed Truth" is all about changing and growing. My favorite song on this compact disc is also the most mellow and relaxed song — "Walkin’ Away." The record samples a carefree whistle, which may be surprising since the song is about his ex-wife who tried to kill him. But what Brother Ali says is that “sometimes we outgrow the role that we play,” which shows the completely honest and heartfelt tone of this album and how Brother Ali chooses to reflect on his life.
Rap and hip-hop albums are not usually the first CDs I pick up when I am looking for something new to add to my collection. However, I will quickly admit that I am going to be missing out on new breakthrough artists like Brother Ali if I don’t start looking past the labels and really listening to the music.
"The Undisputed Truth" is going to be one of, if not the most, popular rap albums of the year.
Jenna Lee is a student at UW-River Falls.