Brother Ali’s Shadows on the Sun (2003) is all right, but The Undisputed Truth (2007) is a lot better. Lyrically, he’s laid off telling you how awesome Brother Ali is. Sometimes that’s great, as in “there’s only three reasons Ali would need a Ramada/one, to move the bowels/two, to steal the towels/three to shower shave and pray for spiritual power.” But this, from a white albino, is more interesting:

So they ask me if I’m black or white, I’m neither
Race is a made up thing I don’t believe in it
My genes tie me to those that despised me
Made a living killing the ones that inspired me
I ain’t just talking about singing and dancing
I was taught life and manhood by black men
So I’m a product of that understanding
And a small part of me feels like I am them
Does that make me a liar maybe
but I don’t want the white folks that praise me to think they can claim me
‘Cause you didn’t make me
You don’t appreciate what I know to be great yet you relate to me
and that frustrates me and what can I say
’cause I know that I benefit from something I hate

Sweet. There’s lots more depth to the beats and arrangements. See e.g. “Uncle Sam Goddamn” which is a sort of follow-up to Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddamn”– not lyrically subtle but I like the rhythm section.

Next week: Lupe Fiasco! Then the going gets thin.