Already known for deft storytelling, Brother Ali's latest proves the Minneapolis MC is at the head of the pack when it comes to candid, tell-it-like-it-is rhymes.
Brother Ali is also maturing fast into adulthood, as illustrated in "Fresh Air," where he spits low-key rhymes about buying a house and getting remarried, and on "Games," as he chastises old friends for slinging drugs on the street instead of holding down a steady job.
And, true to its title, Us isn't as focused on Ali's life, but rather on the stories of friends and fictional characters. It's a satisfying shift that works with perfect devastation on "Tight Rope," in which he analyzes the struggles of three characters—a Somali immigrant, a child of a divorce and a gay teen—and finds certain commonalities in their struggles.
Beyond its lyrical clout, Us suffers from musical tameness. Producer Ant delivers a handful of admirable beats, but the repetitive nature of his soul and R&B influence doesn't sustain much interest.
Besides those hiccups, Ali keeps the album afloat by doing what he does best: rocking unpretentious rhymes that touch on the human experience through his fervent narratives.
Brother Ali plays the Palace at 9 PM on Sun., Oct. 4, with Evidence, Toki Wright and BK One. $15 advance.