A 40 minute EP, that has so many five-star reviews??...can this be right??.....judging by my own listen through of this tremendous EP, the reviews are spot-on. `Brother Ali' (a verbally hard-hitting devout practising Muslim), is armed with a collection of strong views on the worlds state of affairs, and his place in society in general, Forget Gangster posturing, or tales of getting paid and laid, or even dissing other rappers with amusing put-downs....what Brother Ali deals in, is the world around us, and our relatively low placing in amongst it. Everything taken into account, digested, examined, and outputted in a staggeringly complexity, and pinpoint articulation that seems beyond his years. All delivered with a self-awareness and compellingly assertive manner, that grips the attention, with his ability to crack open common conception/perception, and shine a spotlight on it, for all to see.
There's a strength in his conviction that makes for a thrilling listen, and if anyone is disenchanted with hip-hop's fascination with all things material, and that hip-hop hasn't had anything interesting to say for years. Then they could do well to give this disk a spin. Lyrically things are intense, confrontational and treading that fine line between slightly aggressive and mostly angry. But ironically on the flipside, it's impressively literate, and confident, and thinks with its mind, instead of its fists....with a deep understanding of the subject matter, and able to deliver in a way, that doesn't lump this in with hundreds of generic rappers, that think relentless rage, equals meaningful expression. (kind of like the Way "Public Enemy's - Chuck D", was aggressive, but in possession of the facts, and well-read, and thus made you think, about what he had to say...).
So you might be surprised to hear that the production backing Brother Ali's lyrics, isn't bass heavy, thudding beats, designed to shake the walls of a nightclub, but actually sounds like it favours, sampling, beat arrangements, that are relatively spacious, and touch upon the more melodic end soul/R&B grooves, that blend soul, blues and jazz, to create a surprisingly laid-back vibe. (Courtesy of "Atmosphere"), and makes for acutely different listening experience, having the rapid-fire delivery of Brother Ail, work alongside some of the relatively smooth hip-hop/Soul backing tracks, that are sparse enough to allow Brother Ali, to let loose, with the minimal of interruption.
For an EP that is 40 minutes long, this is truly remarkable stuff....I bought this EP and it's full length predecessor "Shadows of the Sun" (which I have yet to listen to), at the same time, and I've (Bizarrely) stuck this EP of my first listening experience of Brother Ali, and whilst listening to it, I was just wowed by his stunning ability to lay this all down on record, and express a level of consciousness, and ability of Weaving intricate stories, that is staggering in many places. Yeah!!...I know loads of people boast how music such as this, is a million miles away from the garbage you hear on T.V. & Radio, and how this is `Real' Hip-Hop (whatever that is...), but the fact is, they are right!!, this is so far ahead of what's out there, that it ceases to be funny. In fact one of the very few criticisms, I could TRY and dig up, to try and give this a (relatively) balanced review, is by saying that Brother Ali, seems to lack even the occasional sense of humour, and he may have a certain bias through his Muslim beliefs. But who cares??...this is one of the most brilliantly written, and impressively crafted hip-hop albums in recent years, and it's less concerned with sounding good, whilst your rolling in your ride, and more interested in making you think, long after you've removed the CD, from your CD Player (although that's months later, for some of you). Whether your into thinking man's Hip-Hop, Indie Hip-Hop, or you just wanna listen to hip-hop that isn't concerned with dumbing down the music/message, in an effort to get regular MTV rotation (poor MTV, they really do come in for a verbal bashing, in Amazon reviews don't they??), then it's time to open your wallet (or purse), and make the purchase, for one of hip-hop's most sorely underrated acts.