Brother Ali
Shadows On The Sun


4.0
excellent

Review

by Adam Thomas STAFF
April 6th, 2009 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If you would please turn in your bible to beauty tips according to Forest Whitaker. In the third chapter of the third line. Brother Ali would you please read to the choir for me son?

Over the last decade, the American Mid-West has emerged at the forefront of the hip-hop world. While some Midwestern acts like Detroit's Eminem and Chicago's Common have worked their ways to large scale commercial success, one look deeper reveals a plethora of quality emcees in tune with the problems of the day to day. At first look Minneapolis, Minnesota's Brother Ali, a Jewish born albino, is about as far away from the archetypal image of someone who verses about the urban struggle as you can get. A hip-hop Yankee in king Arthur's court. Despite this image dichotomy, Brother Ali is a man brimming with personality and insight, and his 2003 album Shadows on the Sun shows a him at the top of his game.

Brother Ali is a master storyteller. His bitingly personal narratives not only showcase the struggles of the community to which he relates, but his own battles do to his appearance. "Room With A View" is a bitter and powerful state of the union of inner city strife that challenges the likes of Mos Def's "Mathematics". From issues such as parenting, drugs, and poverty, Brother Ali paints himself as a documentarian in its closing refrain of "I see all this from the desk that I write my rhymes from / Pen starts to scribble on it's own, my minds numb / But you can call me modern urban Norman Rockwell / I paint a picture of the spot well". On a more personal level, "Forest Whitaker" is Brother Ali's affirmation of who he is. Ali makes light of his physical appearance in its opening verse of "Hey, yo, dependin' on the day, and dependin' on what I ate / I'm anywhere from 20 to 35 pounds overweight / I got red eyes, and one of 'em s lazy / and they both squint when the sun shines so I look crazy". Even though Brother Ali is describing himself, lines like "I'm not mean and got a neck full of razor bumps / I'm not the classic profile of what the ladies want / You might think I'm depressed as can be / But when I look in the mirror I see sexy-ass me make "Forrest Whitaker" an individuality anthem that everyone can relate to.

On Shadows on the Sun Brother Ali also shows off his skills as a battle emcee. "I'm chokin' players like I'm Bob Knight, Choke the coaches like I'm Sprewell" spits Ali on "Champion". "Boy, I grab a mic and rock you like you're Triple 5 Soul / With a civilized flow, but if you say my name I'm like Beetlejuice / Dice you up and slap you till your teeth are loose" continues Ali. "Missing Teeth" sees Ali cutting deep with lines like "You and your little bitch buddies think you're Thelma & Louise / Cause you got a drum machine and you throw jealous to the breeze/ You need to respect a ***in' legend when he breathes".

For as good as Brother Ali is, Shadows on the Sun owes just as much of it's success to the soulful beats that have come to be expected from Ant. Just like his work in Atmosphere, Ant is a master of matching moods. When Ali gets serious Ant delivers in the same vein with murky beats that are just as dark and menacing as Ali's subject matter. On the album's lighter moments like "Prince Charming" and "Forest Whitaker" he conjures up classic 70's soul and R&B molding a silky smooth backing of punchy bass and infectious keyboard hooks.

Shadows On the Sun is two modern hip-hop's all-stars at their best. With Brother Ali's powerful mixture of personal exploration and inner city politics and Ant's stellar production, Shadows on the Sun is a quintessential piece of hip-hop in the new millennium.



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user ratings (101)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Athom
Staff Reviewer
April 6th 2009


17222 Comments


First attempt at a hip-hop review.

drapht00
April 6th 2009


14 Comments


Album rules

illmitch
April 6th 2009


5429 Comments


eugh I'll be honest not a fan of this guy at all. saw him with Ghostface Killah, downloaded an album or two, and was just kinda underwhelmed. pretty good review, although you could use more discussion on the beats and I'd like more analysis of his lyrics instead of just quotes. plus, if you could separate the quotes from the rest of the review I think it'd look a lot better.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
April 6th 2009


17222 Comments


Thanks for the advice. I'll tool it over later today when I have some free time.

fireaboveicebelow
April 6th 2009


6837 Comments


I heard he wasn't as good on cd as he is live, and he was awesome live

Athom
Staff Reviewer
April 6th 2009


17222 Comments


I want to see him live so bad. I can understand why people think that. This was his zenith. on his later albums he just retreads what he does here to a lesser effect. so if you liked his performance just pick this up asap.

fireaboveicebelow
April 6th 2009


6837 Comments


I'm on it

MassiveAttack
April 6th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is pretty solid, but I get tired of Brother Ali quickly, I don't know why though.

drapht00
April 7th 2009


14 Comments


I've seen him 3 times now. It's a good show. Undisputed Truth is just as good as this imo. His use of alliteration is outrageous at times. I love it. The DVD for The Truth Is Here is sick too. He brings his son Faheem out on stage and has the kid kick some rhymes. It's great.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
April 8th 2009


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

he's a great rapper, but i just cant get into the production. he's also a poseur.

that said, i hear the new ep is solid, ill have to check it out.

scyther
April 8th 2009


1606 Comments


*poser

MassiveAttack
April 8th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

lol

Inveigh
June 15th 2010


25025 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i'm confused as to why Brother Ali's a poseur... just because he's not black?

OhCaptain
December 1st 2010


199 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"those faggots at doom, worse than breathing hazardous fumes"

lol

captaincrunch11
April 2nd 2011


1231 Comments


Fire album

Psilocyanide
April 2nd 2011


1823 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Brother Ali's pretty underwhelming. He's not bad, just not special at all.

Inveigh
August 5th 2011


25025 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

just wanna remind everyone how dope this album is

Urinetrouble
August 5th 2011


5764 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good rapper, good lyrics, nothing special voice, average-good beats.



dude inveigh have you heard the new sole/skyrider band album?

Butkuiss
November 19th 2012


4220 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

THE QUESTION OF WHY ALI IS A POSEUR STILL REMAINS UNSOLVED DAMNIT HOW ARE YOU PEOPLE SLEEPING


DatBeefPudding
October 23rd 2013


1335 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this album is fuckin sick. i love blah blah blah. ali is not a poseur at all, anyone who said that is an idiot. dude is just being himself and making awesome music.

i read on his wiki page that he was basically bullied by white kids and as a result hung out with black kids cause they accepted him. i guess he owes his talents to that? if so thats kind of cool. as a white person i can confirm we are shallow people and often dicks for no reason. - source: was a little shit when i was younger at times



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