There’s an awful lot of really bad hip hop out there, a lot of which is very popular and it saddens me sometimes that people probably think that’s all there is to the genre.
Well, those people really ought to listen to Brother Ali, ’cos this album pretty much epitomises everything I love about hip hop.
The first thing to notice is the production, which is absolutely dripping with rich soul and funk. I defy anyone to listen to Tight Rope without at least a gentle nodding of the head. Beats are handled by Ant of Atmosphere fame, and it’s probably fair there are similarities to the likes of Atmosphere, Sage Francis and Aesop Rock all the way through.
The second and most important thing to notice is Brother Ali’s rhymes. His delivery it kind of like a more laid back Sage Francis, mostly more softly spoken than spat out in rage, especially on the more chilled out tracks. Lyrically it’s fairly introspective, weaving tales of urban life, drug abuse and crime with observations on humanity in general. It’s intelligent, insightful rap.
The third thing to notice is that amongst the more usual guests we find Chuck D providing vocals on the very first track.
All this adds up to a really rather great album. If you’re a hip hop fan and you prefer your beats soulful and your rhymes leftfield and clever then have a listen.