Words by Jesse H.
2007’s The Undisputed Truth went a long way to putting not only Brother Ali, but Rhymesayers Entertainment and even Minnesota Hip-Hop (it does exist) on the map. The album delivered heartfelt vocals over funky, soul-drenched production, that was as reliant on live instrumentation as it was its samples.
Two years later Ali’s back to whet fans’ appetites with The Truth is Here EP, where he immediately sets things off by addressing his hectic schedule since The Undisputed Truth, filling “Real As Can Be” with skillful autobiographical bars about shopping for underwear with Rakim. But the gentle skipping of the buoyant bugle call and upright bass are quickly traded for a haunting synthesized bass on “Philistine David” where Ali abruptly lets the listeners know that even with fame, the man’s still got a right to feel depressed.
The rest of the EP does what an EP is supposed to. “Philistine David” aside, Ali maintains his unique production sound (with exclusive assistance from Atmosphere’s Ant) and gives listeners what sound like competent outtakes from The Undisputed Truth. “Palm The Joker” soars on a triumphant explosion of orchestra strings, “Good Lord” finds Ali reminiscing on some Dave Chappelle jokes, and “The Believers” is a Minnesotan Hip-Hop showcase, as Rhymesayers brethren Slug join in for an upbeat celebration of their independent label.
The drawbacks of this brief venture is that Ali’s not exploring much new ground here. The subject matter and the way its presented is pretty familiar for Ali fans, and the songs here don’t suggest that Ali is going to lace the follow up with any new tricks. His shortcomings are also still present, as he lacks the lyrical nimbleness of many of his peers, and doesn’t vary his flows much.
Complaints aside though, the big-hearted emcee still picks a winning package of tight production, and fills each bar of this EP with a confident delivery that’s riddled with passionate, detailed lyrics and effective metaphors. The main attraction may be later this year but for now, The Truth will suffice just fine.