Brother Ali - Shadows of the Sun      
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written by Frank White    
I have to admit that ever since I heard Eyedea’s cd I’ve been very afraid of picking up a rhymesayers record. I know most of them cats can battle, but that doesn’t prove that any of them can actually release a killer record. I remember watching footage of Brother Ali battling Eyedea at Scribble Jam, and even though I think he won the battle his image just didn’t look too promising. An overweight albino mc isn’t exactly someone I expected to beat a cat like Eyedea in a battle. Add the fact that that my boy who handed me the cd said this isn’t just a rhymer, but a muslim rhymer. I don’t want anyone to think that anything I wrote so far is a diss to Brother Ali, but in order to feel my review you need to know how I felt when writing it.

After listening to the single “Room with a view” it’s quite easy to say that this kid has been practicing his penmanship for a minute now. The beat is hard and Ali comes out swinging, but there can’t be much to do out there in the Midwest because content wise this is no hardcore shit by any means. Brother Ali and Ant (the silent half of Atmosphere) produce all the beats and I believe this was a very good choice. I think that the instrumental version of “Shadows of the sun” would sell just as well. They’re smooth and consistent for the most part with very well done transitions. The order of the tracks has been thought out well, and adds even more to the equation.

Three listens later and I found my favorite track “Forest Whitiker”. “Depending on the day and depending on what I ate/ I’m anywhere from twenty to thirty five pounds overweight/ I got red eyes and one of them’s lazy/ and they both squint when the sun shines so wide and crazy/ I’m albino man I know I’m pink and pale/ and I’m hairy as hell everywhere but fingernails.” Add that to some of the best production on the album and it really shows you the kind of cat we have on our hands here. His personality, rhyme scheme and extensive vocabulary hold this album together quite well.

The same things making this album great also ruin some of it to an extent. Brother Ali’s personality for one thing is really not that special and his rhyme scheme becomes a bit monotone after a while. The production is great but it mostly resolves around the same tempo and drum line which is really hard to stand after more than an hour of listening. There were a lot of good songs on here but I couldn’t really pick just a few without listing half the album because they’re all so similar. Overall this is much more than I expected and hope that the Rhymesayers have more good releases in store for us.

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