Brother Ali – “All the Beauty in This Whole Life” review

When Brother Ali first told me back in November that his 6th full-length album was coming in 2017, I was pretty excited given that it would be his first album since Mourning in America & Dreaming in Color just 5 years ago. However when he later said it would be entirely produced by Ant of Atmosphere (who hasn’t produced an album for Ali since Us in 2009), I was even more excited. The album opens up with “Pen to Paper”, where Ali’s talking about going from started writing at 8 & meeting KRS-One at 13 to being profiled by the US government over some ambitious keys & horns. The next song “Own Light (What Hearts Are For)” is about using his heart for love & while the beat does start off kinda spacey, the electric guitar that starts to pop in after the first 20 seconds was a nice touch. The track “Special Effects” talks about Ali wanting to communicate without technology over a jazzy beat & the deM atlaS hook on here is just beautiful. The song “Can’t Take That Away” is a dedication to that special someone in Ali’s life & the beauty of it is enhanced by the harp & keys throughout. The next track “Dear Black Son” is basically Ali sending a message to his son Faheem about all the current racism in America today over a jazzy piano. The song “We Got This” with Sa-Roc talking positivity & the chemistry between the 2 MCs is actually greater than I actually though it would be. The song “Uncle Usi Taught Me” recalls performing “Uncle Sam Goddamn” in Iran over a funky beat & the way he describes it is so vivid & sincere. The track “Pray for Me” talks about his albinism over a piano as well as a pumping bassline. The song “It Ain’t Easy” talking his desire of real love over a churchy instrumental. The track “Never Learn” has some nice brass throughout & I also love the eerie background vocals behind the beat. Also, the hook is beautiful & his flow is so on point. The song “Tremble” talks about how he’s “a human, not a brand” over an electric guitar & he sounds so sincere about it too. The track “Before They Called You White” talks about the Europeans’ land being seized & I like how they incorporated the vocal sample at the end. The song “The Bitten Apple” talks about self-hate over a somber beat & the gloomy hook from Idris Phillips fits in perfectly with the whole tone. The penultimate track “Out of Here”, where Ali is talking about the suicide of both his dad & grandfather & the instrumental fits in like a glove. Especially with the piano during the first verse. The album then closes out with the title track, where Ali is talking about God over a relaxing beat. To me, this is a near perfect return for Brother Ali. The instrumentals are beautiful, the content is on point & the passion is clear as day
Score: 4.5/5

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