Truthiness you actually want to hear

Local rapper Brother Ali returns with an excellent sophomore album, ‘The Undisputed Truth’

Megan Kadrmas

In the infamous words of Jay-Z, the sophomore album by Minneapolis’ own Brother Ali is “so motherfuckin’ soulful.”

From the first note to the last, “The Undisputed Truth” proves two things: Brother Ali deserves the hype prompted by his 2003 full-length debut “Shadows of the Sun” – and he’s been doing a lot of deep thinking about topping it since then.

“The Undisputed Truth” CD Release Party and Signing
WHEN: Midnight, Monday
WHERE: Fifth Element, 2409 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis
TICKETS: Free, all ages

Over the past four years, the Muslim albino spitfire has gone through a divorce, received full custody of his son, been homeless, moved around a little and toured a lot. Oh, yeah, and he’s grown up in the process.

“Undisputed Truth” delves into a lot of heavy, somber topics like his crumbling marriage, the war in Iraq and being a single

father. Somehow, though, through the help of Atmosphere’s Ant (who produced the album), “Truth” is uplifting.

Ant-crafted lean beats using cuts of blues, soul and reggae complement Brother Ali’s sometimes deeply emotional and always thought-provoking rhymes. Although “Truth” isn’t Ant’s most experimental or fascinating project, the beats intentionally play The Supremes to Ali’s Diana Ross.

Brother Ali deserves the attention though, because almost every track on “The Undisputed Truth” echoes with honesty. The secret to the album’s success lies in Ali’s ability to make each song relatable and introspective.

His ability to express complex emotions with dead-on precision is what brought him fame with “Shadows” and what reaffirms it on “Truth.”

On “Letter from the Government,” a song about a military man who received a deployment notice to Iraq, Ali spits biting lines like, “Putting one in his brain / Like something will change?” This track is also a good example of Ant’s musical theory for the project, accentuating the soulful quality of Ali’s voice with a gritty blues march.

Ali uses the ample material from the momentous changes in his life since we last heard from him for most of the album’s rawest songs. On “Here,” he intelligently twists the heartbreaking experience of selling a home after a failed marriage into a thought-provoking rhyme about letting a stranger see into his imperfect inner being.

“The Undisputed Truth”
ARTIST: Brother Ali
LABEL: Rhymesayers Entertainment

The material in and of itself is darker and much more introspective than his first album; still, there is a feeling of hope lying beneath the tracks. Like on “Walking Away,” the album’s most blatant analysis of his divorce, where lyrics like, “If you didn’t try to kill me / I’d have stayed for the kid” are balanced by a laid-back jam.

Truth be told, “The Undisputed Truth” shows all the reasons Brother Ali should only get bigger from here. He’s focused, he’s matured both personally and musically, he’s original and honest in his rhymes, and he’s talented as hell.