Brother Ali
Us


2.5
average

Review

by Sobhi Youssef EMERITUS
September 17th, 2009 | 45 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Us lies at a precarious crossroads of self-help preaching and black history compendium, succeeding at neither.

In his vehement insistence that his music "blurs racial lines" Brother Ali no longer tries to prove himself on his 4th studio record. In fact, he takes it for granted instead apprising society of its evils and intolerance from the perspective of a devout Muslim. Consequently, Us continues a two-album slide into mediocrity coming off 2003's career-defining Shadows on the Sun with more preaching, more retellings of supposedly commonplace ghetto tribulations, and (unfortunately) more of a reversion with respect to both production and lyricism.

In a year where Ali's label, Rhymesayers Entertainment, released a pair of verbally complex and sonically progressive hip-hop records (see P.O.S.'s Never Better and Eyedea & Abilities' By the Throat), this move comes across as questionable; Us reduces his typically unique and circuitous rhyme scheme to something completely simplistic and uninteresting. In addition to the blues that producer A.N.T. attempts to emulate throughout, these easy-to-learn/ lifetime-to-master methods are inadequately represented with a static 12-bar formula and unimaginative rhymes. Where the duo does break from form is where strict adherence would make most sense - "Breakin' Dawn" is an oriental come chain-gang pious piece that suffers only from excessive length and repetition. It's puzzling as to why Ali so willingly abdicates his lyrical throne atop Rhymesayers compatriots, in favor of a monotonous flow and more basic rhyme scheme akin to Slug; some of the beats here are pure gold and feel wasted on this record. Besides some cases of mistaken identity (see his discussion of slavery on "The Travelers"), this production mismatch is the true frustration here as the primary criticism in the past has been exactly the opposite. "Breakin' Dawn", "The Travelers", "Round Here", "Games", and "Slippin' Away" really make one wonder where this iteration of A.N.T. has been; if beats like this existed on Shadows on the Sun, it would have been an outright classic. As it stands, Us lies at a precarious crossroads of self-help preaching and black history compendium, succeeding at neither and exposing a serious disconnect between lyricist and producer.



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user ratings (56)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
scyther
September 17th 2009


1606 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Sad news but I haven't heard it, is it streaming anywhere?

kingsoby1
Emeritus
September 17th 2009


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Not yet. Yeah I was pretty excited about this too; he's easily one of the best rappers out of the Rhymesayers scene.

It just baffles me how he can drop a solid EP then suck it up like this. All the rhymes are annoying... like a/a/a/a/b/b/b/b etc

devsol
September 17th 2009


347 Comments


your reviews are always top notch sobhi - even when i have no interest in the album, i still read just to have your words cascade warmly all over my face

scyther
September 17th 2009


1606 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Fresh Air is pretty good, but I can see where your coming from he almost sounds arrogant.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
September 17th 2009


15743 Comments


lol eliminator

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

Athom
Staff Reviewer
September 17th 2009


17222 Comments


ugh, such a disappointment

qwe2
September 17th 2009


377 Comments


aw mannn

noddy
September 18th 2009


1 Comments


Its no shadows on the sun, no undisputed truth.
Ants beats are more soulful (and top quality) than in the past and Ali has adjusted for them.
He's moved on, changing and trying something a little different, I think its worth more than 2.5, but we all got our own likes/dislikes.
As for "apprising society of its evils and intolerance from the perspective of a devout Muslim"
-thats what I want to hear rappers talk about, these are issues that need airing as far as I'm concerned.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
September 18th 2009


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i basically said the same thing you just did, except i'm not a fan of the "direction change" since that means worse rapping. also, you've got to realize that Muslim subject matter isn't very accessible for the majority of the target hip-hop audience.

thanks for your comment and welcome to the site.

catsinflats
September 18th 2009


129 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this saddens me, so not worth checking out?

Wish
September 18th 2009


262 Comments


Definitely going to check this out but I don't have particularly high hopes.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
September 18th 2009


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

check it out if you like brother ali. i highlighted all the tracks that are unique from a production perspective, all the rest are soul/blues. the problem i have with the rapping is the very static rhyme scheme.

MUNGOLOID
September 18th 2009


4333 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this album wasn't that bad. even though it dragged on and was very boring at times, the lyrics and some of the beats were pretty good.

thurston
September 18th 2009


5 Comments


Man, You hit the nail on the head in this review....The production does have its moments, but I tend to think that this is not all at the hands of ant. I know for a fact that they have a healthy helping of live musicians who play a lot of the instrumentation....Ant is mostly at the kicks and snares, which is pretty much what he has done his entire career...albeit with a sample or now live musicians in the studio..

-T

MassiveAttack
September 18th 2009


2688 Comments


I used to like Brother Ali, but he tends to really put me to sleep. Hes a strong lyricist, but I just can't listen to him as much as I used too.

scyther
September 19th 2009


1606 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This album kicks in hard about halfway through. I can't really say I don't like any of these songs, but they definitely aren't up to par with his older stuff. Except for "The Travelers", that song rules.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
September 19th 2009


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

ya the 2nd half saves it from sucking completely

foreverendeared
September 20th 2009


14678 Comments


you recommended Atmosphere! i thought you hated Atmosphere.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
September 20th 2009


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

that's why I spelled it wrong. also lol @ hiphopdx giving this a 4.5

bastard
September 20th 2009


3435 Comments


hiphopdx is good for just about nothing.



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