I Can't Call It: "Mourning In America and Dreaming In Color" - Brother Ali

Posted On Monday, October 1, 2012

Who could’ve called that the successor to Chuck D would be a white, albino, muslim, MC from Minnesota? I’m proof positive that without a doubt that no one was making that call but that’s exactly what Brother Ali is. I first got put onto Brother Ali through Jake One’s “White Van Music” album and was feeling his song “The Truth” with Freeway and I’ve been checking for dude ever since. And when I found out he was linking back up with Jake to do an entire project, “Mourning In America, Dreaming In Color” it immediately jumped to the #1 spot on my most anticipated albums of the year list. So, while a lot of ya’ll are still processing that last comment, (yeah, I was waiting to hear this over EVERYTHING else that was on tap to drop this year) I’m diving in head first into what I’m hoping will be my fave hip hop album of the year.

“Mourning In America” sets off with “Letter To My Country Men” and Ali’s first line sums up the journey he’s about to take us on, “I used to think I hated this place, couldn’t wait to tell the president straight to his face/but lately I changed nowadays I embrace it all, beautiful ideals and amazing flaws/gotta care enough a give a testament, ‘bout the deeply depressed and mess we’re in/it’s home so we better make the best of it, I wanna make this country what it says it is.” "Stop the Presses" has Ali giving you the rundown on the many trials and tribulations he’s faced throughout the years from being making music to his father committing suicide while he was on tour and on “Only Life I Know” he paints one of the most vivid non glorifying pictures of our communities I’ve ever heard, “whether it’s the projects or a trailer park mess, raggedy the apartment complex/with a stressed out single mom sitting on the steps, waiting on the mailman, looking for a check/boys on the corner, pushing out the chest, questing for anything that resembles respect/young girls swinging their hair with every step/looking for affection, settling for sex/bodies decorated with tattoos and chains, trying to put armor between you and the pain.” If you’re out here working everyday living check to check then “Work Everyday” will be your new theme song, ya’ll already know that the album’s 1st single “Mourning In America” goes hard while “Need A Knot” has Ali giving a breakdown of him juggling all of his hustles.

Ali breaks down the music industry’s history with blacks from slavery to modern day on "Won More Hit", “All You Need” has Ali opening up about struggles he’s encountered with his wife about raising their son, “I called a cab and took him to county hospital, they shaved head and burned flesh off his skull/held him overnight to fight infection, I slept sitting up in a chair directly next to him/I just knew you would join us but instead, you hoped your ass on the bus, went home and went to bed/that’s the very moment I divorced you in my head/God might forgive you for that, I never did.” And while most dudes would throw their son’s mom under a bus, the second verse has Ali explaining to his son, why his mother is the way she is, “I know you wonder why your mother does the things that she do/well it’s not cause she doesn’t love you/it’s because she grew up in something they call foster care, that’s when strangers raise you and your moms not there/imagine how she felt when she was your age, going from place to place, never feeling safe/never having love, never having faith, she probably thought the world was a big scary place/where was her mommy at, well that’s kinda sad/she used drugs to forget the problems she had.” But I think the illest thing about “Mourning In America…” is that it ends on such a strong note with “Singing the Song” which is tied with “Fajr” as my favorite song on the album. 

“Mourning In America…” is easily one of the most personal, honest and riveting pieces of music I’ve EVER heard. Ali could sell me on this album with his lyrics alone but Jake One blessing him with the perfect score for Ali’s script just makes this album THAT much doper. And to be honest, this album should truly be the poor man’s hip hop album of the year. And what I mean by that is this album speaks not only to what people in every hood, in every city are going through but to what 75% of middle class America is going through. But if you’re making it rain in the club, buying cars like they’re fitteds and jet setting around the world, then this album is gonna go right over your head, on some ole “they’re people struggling in the world right now? I guess I didn’t notice while I was throwing money away on strippers and champagne” type ish. But like I said, if you’re one of the cats that’s out here struggling, living check to check, on some Good Times ish while trying to do the right thing, bet money that this album speaks to your situation more then any other album has since PE dropped “It Takes A Nation…” 25 years ago. So move over MC Lyte and Chris "The Mayor" Thomas, cause Brother Ali is PETV’s newest correspondent. BTW, “Mourning in America…” mos def checks in as my hip hop album of the year so far, and I doubt anything will be knocking it out the box.

 4.5 outta 5

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