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Old 10-05-2009, 11:33 AM   #1
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Brother Ali Brings Us "Us"

Propelled by Ant’s increasingly dense, nearly symphonic productions and Brother Ali’s bulldog-like delivery, the new record <em>Us </em>hits at the chest hard from beginning to end.


The beats from Ant use somewhat unconventional parts from both trumpets and electric guitars, giving the album its trademark Minneapolis and Rhymesayers Entertainment sound. Brother Ali captivates listeners with his vivid lyrics that focus on two overarching themes: toasting and boasting and triumphing over adversity. Both of these are ultimately celebratory, a sense that is evident from the first blasting trumpet on “The Preacher,” the second song on the album after the introduction, “Brothers and Sisters.”

However, <em>Us</em> does flip to the dark side now and then. On “House Keys,” Brother Ali describes moving to a smaller apartment in the same building to save some money each month, only to have drug dealers, who are loud and set off a gun, move into the family’s old apartment.
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Providing a backdrop for all of this, Ants pushes an extraordinarily unsettling beat, punctuated by a haunting female voice simply singing “ah” repeatedly. But even with this and other somewhat more downbeat tracks like “Slippin Away,” the overwhelming feeling in the air is festive and joyous.

<em>Us</em> is yet another fantastic album from Rhymesayers Entertainment, in an already superb year of releases from the label, including P.O.S.’s <em>Never Better<Proxy-Connection: keep-alive
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Fem> and Brother Ali’s own <em>The Truth is Here</em> EP. But, pulling us back into perspective, as Brother Ali is prone to do, on “Fresh Air” he reminds us that all of this elation isn’t just about his recent success, it’s bigger than that: “And I don’t just mean Rhymesayers/My son’s grandmother quit freebasin’/Desiree got 8 years straight/Now that right there cause for celebration.”

Regardless, it’s crystal clear that Brother Ali is in a good place right now, and <em>Us </em>is a fervent reflection of that. <strong>--Cassie Traun</strong>
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