September 22, 2016

Brother Ali "Us" (Billboard Magazine, 9/09)

"If you know me, you know I love my family, love my God, proclaims Minneapolis MC Brother Ali at the top of his third album. If you didn't know that, Ali makes sure you do by the end of "Us," on which he holds forth on his Muslim faith, his kids and, in the song "House Keys," how "we really don't need all three of these bedrooms." (The rapper suggests spending the money he and his wife would save by moving into a cheaper apartment at seafood restaurant Red Lobster.) What gives Brother Ali's slice-of-life ruminations their impressive heft is the rapper's eye for everyday detail and the handmade appeal of his vintage funk arrangements. Producer Ant provides him with deeply soulful tracks similar to those he supplies his partner Slug in the hip-hop group Atmosphere. Highlights abound, but the standout track "Best@It" has fiery guest spots from Freeway and Joel Ortiz." - Billboard Magazine, September 2009 (available below). Watch the visuals to the title track below...

Online, HipHopDX gave "Us" a 4.5 star review, saying: "Brother Ali's story is a unique one. Skeptics may wonder how an albino white kid from Minnesota could become one of independent Rap's strongest voices. Yet, Ali stands as one of the genre's most highly-praised artists, defying the odds to make it happen. After battling doubt, ridicule and hardship, he grew out of his teen years with the confidence of a talented emcee and used that same grit to escape from poverty, a painful divorce and strained family ties. All of this has been well documented throughout his previous projects and while his story is an intriguing one, it seems he's ready to shift gears on his latest offering. Now, Ali is transferring his focus to Us, working with longtime collaborator Ant to share the stories of others in an attempt to build on his impressive discography. Marking the release of his third official full-length album, some have doubted that he could satisfy those high expectations. But, that only allows Ali to do what he's always done best: defy the odds..." (Updated).