On his latest, Minneapolis rapper Brother Ali hones a narrative style that’s pensive and intensely personal but not narcissistic. It’s an alluring invitation into the mind of a passionate person. And, after a few spins, you’ll start to empathize with him and his life experiences—not to mention realize he knows how to tell one hell of a story.
Those skills are best showcased on songs like “Walking Away” (where he comes to terms with the why’s and how’s of a crumbled marriage) and “Uncle Sam Goddamn” (as he pinpoints the ramifications of racism in America). Brother Ali seasons these stories with colorful language and vivid metaphors, adding just the right amount of complexity to his direct rhyming style. As for the music itself, the melodic and rhythmic backbone comes courtesy of Ant (the second half of Ali’s label mates Atmosphere) and contains some seriously infectious beats (especially “Truth Is” and “Take Me Home”) that are destined to get booties shaking.
The Undisputed Truth
is nearly flawless. In lesser hands such relentlessly personal content could threaten to reveal a rapper trapped in his own ego. But Brother Ali’s earnest and straightforward approach avoids such pitfalls. He’s simply a fascinating character letting listeners know him through his music.
Brother Ali plays The Other Side with BK One, Blueprint and DJ Rare Groove Saturday, Sept. 29, at 9 PM.