Published on September 1st, 2012 | by joseph goral
Video: Brother Ali – Mourning in America
I won’t lie; it’s been a long time since I seriously listened to Brother Ali. Shadows On The Sun was my shit about ten years ago. Of course, I also wore nothing but Timberland Boots and hip-hop inspired t-shirts then. It was a different time in my life indeed. Shadows was a lyrically charged debut that contained tracks that were rawer than Ol’ Dirty dippin’ his dunkin’ between yo’ donut. While I dug the hell out of his ability to rip a beat to shreds, it was well balanced by more lighthearted tracks like Forest Whitaker that were a welcome relief to the onslaught of battle raps that the album was heavily laced with. The main reason why I stopped listening was that each album got more and more political as Brother Ali progressed in his musical career. The lighthearted breaks from the seriousness were cast aside for more politically charged material. Sure, there were a couple of tracks I really liked, but the rest of the album was just too serious for me to smoke weed to. (Disclaimer: I don’t smoke weed any more. Real grown-ups drink whiskey to relax.) Politics and religion are two subjects I generally stray away from in my musical tastes, especially hip-hop. Rage Against The Machine is the exception. There was just too much talent there and much more to listen to besides Zach De La Rocha’s lyrics.
This latest single from Brother Ali is as controversial as it comes. While the lyrics on their own are enough to incite a riot, the accompanying video is a montage of society’s ills portrayed on film. It is well shot, well edited and surprisingly, the acting is pretty good. The look on the Martin Luther King-esque African-American leader who gets shot is spot on. The mix of surprise and incredulity on his face is striking. Lyrically, the reuse of the popular gangster rap mantra in the chorus of Murda, murda, murda, kill, kill, kill works well with the subject matter at hand. It kept me captivated for the 4 plus minutes both musically and visually. From his Colonel Sanders white beard to the pop-locking burka wearking women, it’s a kickass watch and listen. The overall message is one that many Americans can relate to in one way or another: I ain’t hatin’/ I still wanna believe in/ and I’m not tryin’ to leave it/ I just call it how I see it. What’s great about this song in my opinion is that now I would start paying more attention to Brother Ali for the same reasons I stopped listening. Maybe I grew up a bit in the last ten years or maybe he figured out how to make political material more listenable; either way it’s an ill track and I’ll definitely be checking out the album when it drops.