So why is Brother Ali’s The Undisputed Truth on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?
I started thinking about how so much of the hip hop/rap music that I’m drawn to is “underground hip hop.” But what does that even mean?
With apologies for getting all book report-y about it, here’s what Wikipedia has to say about underground hip hop:
Underground hip-hop (also commonly known as indie hip-hop or underground rap) is an umbrella term for hip hop music that is outside the general commercial canon. It is typically associated with independent artists, signed to independent labels or no label at all. Underground hip hop is often characterized by socially conscious, positive, or anti-commercial lyrics.
I’ll go further and say that great underground hip hop has a rawness to it, an edge, an authenticity that more commercial “mainstream” hip hop/rap tends to lack. But that doesn’t mean that the production quality of the music necessarily suffers.
All of those things play into my feelings about The Undisputed Truth, an end-to-end powerhouse underground hip hope album which I believe to be Brother Ali’s best (also see: the excellent Shadows on the Sun, #615 of the best 1,000 albums ever).
My favorite Brother Ali track of all is “Truth Is,” based on the premise that it goes hard, it’s head bob worthy, and features an outstanding hook and production. And as always Brother Ali’s rapping is on point.
This is music where I think: this stuff should be topping the sales and Billboard charts. But no matter: it’s just fantastic.
“Lookin’ At Me Sideways” goes even harder, if that’s possible, with an upbeat tempo and a flat-out jamming funk riff and background female soul vocal sample.
Brother Ali is also a lyricist with a very specific and well-honed worldview on top of being a dynamite rapper.
When you hear lyrics like:
I been a thugged out nerd all my life
Thank God I ain’t got to serve dirt or snatch purses at night
Organic vegetables, mix em with fast food
I’m Howard stern meets howard zinn
…you get a very specific idea of Brother Ali’s worldview.
“Freedom Ain’t Free” goes just as hard while slowing down the tempo considerably. This one has a slower, deep funk-level sample with lovely strings accompanying.
Pop culture stuff that has something to do with Brother Ali’s The Undisputed Truth
Jason Douglas Newman a.k.a. Brother Ali also is unique in that not only is he a “white rapper,” but he has albinism. More from our friends at Wikipedia:
Ali is Caucasian (white American), but he has spoken of feeling more accepted by Black classmates than white ones: “It’s not like black kids didn’t make fun of me, but it was different. It wasn’t done in a way to exclude me. It wasn’t done in a way to make me feel like not even a human being, not even a person.” He could relate to them because they were also judged by their skin color.
Some stats & info about Brother Ali – The Undisputed Truth
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rap, Hip Hop, Underground Hip Hop
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 4 out of 5 stars
- When was The Undisputed Truth released? 2007
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #400 out of 1,000
Brother Ali’s The Undisputed Truth on Spotify
A lyrical snippet from Brother Ali’s The Undisputed Truth that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe
Truth is here, the truth is here.
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.