Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Brother Ali - The Undisputed Truth

Grade: A-

Download - Truth Is

Brother Ali has never been one to pull punches, and his audience has always benefited from this lack of restraint. But while he shares some of Eminem's vocal tics, Brother Ali's straightfoward storytelling doesn't reach shrill Marshall Mathers levels. Instead, he talks about his fascinating background - Ali is albino, recently divorced with a son - with nuance and subtlety.

The hype behind The Undisputed Truth, at least locally, has reached deafening levels. It's been a few years since The Champion EP, and fans have done little but bide their time until this record's release. Unfortunately, the record doesn't live up to its hype. Though this album is his best so far, Ali doesn't quite reach his potential. He gets pretty close on most of these tracks - especially on the all-cards-on-the-table "Lookin' At Me Sideways," the driving "Daylight," the maddeningly catchy "Take Me Home" - but the production doesn’t match his ambitions.

Ant from Atmosphere has been Brother Ali’s producer for a few years, and his clean approach has dulled Ali’s bite. This is also the case on The Undisputed Truth, which is full of sharp moments – “I view the future like it’s hindsight,” he proclaims on “Take Me Home” – but is ultimately sonically flat and cold. The disconnect is frustrating, leaving the listener with memories of impressive lyrics but nothing to keep.

Nonetheless, these are some good songs. In addition to the aforementioned highlights, the record boasts the indelible single “Truth Is,” his divorce chronicle “Walking Away,” and “Faheem,” Ali’s ode to his son. This is easily his strongest work to date, but someone please get the man a new producer.
(David Brusie)

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