Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Funky and deep hip-hop from Brother Ali

Brother Ali hates it when writers mention he’s an albino in the first two sentences of album reviews. Sorry, bro. It’s interesting. I was particularly interested because I listened to the entire album and thought he was black. It wasn’t until I was researching the album for this post that I learned he’s a white dude from Wisconsin named Jason Newman. So, he’s already really white, because he’s from Wisconsin, and he’s especially really white because he’s an albino. OK. I’m sorry. I had to get that out of my system.

 

Jason Newman converted to Islam and changed his name to Ali.

 

The fact is, Brother Ali is a smooth MC and his 2009 release, “Us,” has a great sound reminiscent of some of the guys out of Chicago like Common and Lupe Fiasco. The beats on “Us” are usually pretty simple, but the songs are decorated with horns, backing vocals, and some assorted other instruments. The album was produced by Ant of the hip-hop act, Atmosphere, who I also just discovered a few weeks ago, and he does a nice job with the songs. I mentioned Chicago, but it’s a slightly stripped down version of that sound — not quite so busy. Some of Ali’s song concepts are cool, some are heavy, but almost all of them are interesting.

These are by no means all the good songs on “Us,” but they are my 4 favorites.

  • Crown Jewel – The basis of this song is a great horns hook, but Ali’s vocal groove is smooth and the handclap percussion draws you right in. If you listen to one track from this album, go put this one in your ears.
  • Tight Rope – Ali’s flow is unbelievable. Check the second verse about being the childr of divorced parents.
  • Breakin’ Dawn – Again, they use a relatively simple beat, but they flash some sitar and cool backing vocals. Ali tells the story of a talented young preacher coming up.
  • Slippin’ Away – This is a sad, sad story about a good friend who was shot and killed at 23. I love the electric piano and heavy electronic bass line.

I had never heard of Brother Ali before, which I guess means I’m just behind the times because “Us” debuted at #56 on the Billboard 200. So clearly a lot of people listen to his stuff. I have ordered a couple of his other albums so I’ll let you know what I find.

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October 11, 2010 - Posted by | Hip Hop

1 Comment »

  1. Thank you for this one, I’ve never heard of, and it’s a real feast for an ear ^^

    Comment by Caerolle | October 16, 2010 | Reply


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