Two years following the release of one of the dopest-albums-The-Quotable-never-reviewed (The Undisputed Truth), Brother Ali returns with his addendum offering, The Truth Is Here. Much like the legally-blind-bald-headed-white-albino-Muslim-rapper that crafted this EP, The Truth Is Here bucks convention, flipping a proverbial middle-finger towards the stereotypical .
(In my best Chris Rock impersonation) "Yeah I said it!" Legally-blind-bald-headed-white-albino-Muslim-rapper.
And he's niiiiiiiiiiice!
Not nice in a chew-you-up-in-a-cypher-kind-of-way. More like, nice in a giving-you-that-shit-you-need-to-feel-type-way. A damn-near-spiritual-type-nice.
Yeah...nice like that.
Brother Ali is one of the handful of artists in my iPod that is able to evoke emotion in the listener...and unleash the pimp-hand of the government.
(The Chris Rock impersonation returns) "Yeah I said it!" How many rappers do you know that have had their funds frozen by the Department of Homeland Security?
But I guess that happens when you happen to be a legally-blind-bald-headed-white-albino-Muslim-rapper-that-makes-a-song-called-Uncle-Sam-Goddam.
And the track is nice too. (No more hyphen sentences. I-swear).
Nevertheless, rap's Howard Zinn returns with The Truth Is Here - a 9-track EP intended to hold over his loyal fan base until his next full length album drops this September (Street Preacher). Is it another worthy offering?
Come along and ride with us as The Quotable reviews: The Truth Is Here
"As real as can be. I keep my people with me..." - "Real As Can Be"
The Truth Is Here jumps off with the Mo Better Bluesy "Real As Can Be." Ali kicks a slick old school flow over (Rhymesayers in-house producer) Ant's smooth saxophone and soul sample, while reflecting on his first headlining tour and traveling with Rakim. Its the type of cut that makes you want to chill and smoke something. Something good. Good start to the album.
"Little Rodney" is by far the album's most potent cut. Here, Backpack Rap's Version of Sam Kennison lyrically digs into the jail system from both an inmates perspective and the perspective of someone pissed at the business behind it:
"...Twisted, broken, mutilated carcass / living in a harness. / Guards all watch us / from towers with batons / firearms in they holsters. / Shoot to kill marksman keep cross-hairs on us. / Food make you nauseous. / Yard got you frost bit. / They sleep us in shit just to keep us exhausted. / Mixed in with monsters. Divided and conquered. / Where the hard-hearted lawless are highly regarded. / Chance to touch knowledge, / transform the torture. / These bars are between you and your culture. / Eat, sleep, shit, sweat hardship. / A god-less society's garbage. / Twisted 'Mission Accomplished'. / Bars and our sorrows are all that we're armed with. / Heart disconnected, punchin walls with the raw fist. / Caught in / between livin' in hell and a coffin. / Do the death rattle in the metal maze your lost in. / Boxed in. Dropped in a hole and forgotten. / Frozen to the core, your soul feels rotten. / Name is now numbers. Just know your fellow convict / love you, Brother Ali. / Peace, Little Rodney."
This is the reason you buy a Brother Ali album! Homeboy is blessed with a gift for the language. His ability to lyrically paint vivid images is miles above The Average. Its poetic. And is a signal of the all-important-replay-value-potential (ok...one more hyphen sentence won't hurt)! Thats the reason you buy music in the first place - to listen to it!!!! And if it can take your mind places your body has never been and make it feel like you physically experienced it, you'll want to listen to it again!! And again!! And Again!!! AND THEN YOU GOT YOUR MONEYS WORTH!!!! THATS WHATS POPPIN' IN FINANCIAL CRISIS, MUTTASKUTTAS!!!...GETTIN' YOUR MONEYS WORTH!!!!
Deep breath...deep breath...woo saa...
I'm off my soap box now. My bad for the tangent. "Little Rodney" is a very good song. Back to the review...
"I ain't dumbin down. / You gonna have to smarten up." - "Talkin' Shit"
The Truth Is Here's best run hits with the anthemic "Palm The Joker" (high strings and sped-up soul samples. Sounds like '04 Kanye) and the bluesy, head-nodding "Good Lord." The latter holds some of the albums most honest rhymes: "And how you gon' hate me for being what God made me? / Its not a game. I aint sayin it playfully. / They relate to the joy and the pain in me, / and seeing me make it be. Watchin a slave get free." More dopeness. More dopeness.
"Baby Don't Go" fulfills the obligatory chick-track quotient. Ant's bouncing organ keys and funky snare make this song more than tolerable, and Ali's rhymes verge on the unintentionally humorous ("If I ask you to dance then we gonna actually dance. / I don't just rub my pecker on the back of your pants"). "Talkin' Shit" is the most versatile track on the EP. You can clean to it. You can ride to it. You can smoke to it. You can drop into mack-mode with it in the background. It even comes complete with its own 4 bar, old-school-break-beat-boom-bap-breakdown (aight...clearly I'm not ready to leave the hyphen-sentences alone. But thats my journey. I'll get there).
Slug (from the Rhymesayers duo, Atmosphere) joins the Street Preacher on "The Believers." The two labelmates volley cypher rhymes back and forth over Ant's rumbling soundscape. "Cash it in and take a look at who you dancin' with. / You're just the middle-man between your fans and your management." Definitely head-nod-inducing. The album wraps with the tranquil "Begin Here," showcasing some of Ali's most personal rhymes.
"When I was young you couldn't tear me away from the stereo. / I used to carry one with me everywhere I go. / As I memorized the words / I genuinely believed every line I heard. / I thought that these men that I referred to as prophets of our time would never lie in verse. / I can't begin to tell you how it hurt as time went on and some of them disguises burst. / I always said 'if ever I get heard,' / 'If ever I am perched in an elevated place / high enough so this world can recognize my words' / I would never turn and try and hide my faith. / And so I give my all as an author. / Even if myself is all I have to offer."
9 tracks. 1 producer. 1 guest appearance. No interludes. The Truth Is Here is a sleek listen, packed with dope beats and dope rhymes, laced with replay value. Honestly, "Philistine David" is its only real hiccup (Ant's corniest production and Brother Ali unfortunately adorns that cheesy-street-preacher garb he occasionally defaults to) . Other than that, the album picks up right where The Undisputed Truth left off.
The Truth Is Here will not make you want to hit the club. Its not going to make the ladies drop and get their Eagle-on or anything. You're not going to find Brother Ali headlining Madison Square Garden, even if he is in that college town, bossin' that crowd around. He doesn't have a six-pack, tatoo, or a bullet hole. He just makes dope music - not so plain, not so simple. The Truth Is Here is no exception. Whats more important than that? "Shit, muthafucka, shit. Ali and them sittin' on another hit."
"Yeah-I-said-it!" (...just couldn't help myself).
 Or considering the number of gimmicks and personal triumphs rappers use to sell their backstory and separate themselves from the pack, you could argue that he is the MOST stereotypical rapper. Seriously...how many legally-blind-bald-headed-white-albino-Muslim-PEOPLE do you know??? On paper, that reads like the Lebron James of rap cliches (even if being legally blind or albino wasn't a choice)! Fortunately for him, his music is great enough to make you forget that he's currently leading the league.
 And not to nit-pick, but the CD itself doesn't come with an album book! How nonsensical is that?? The only reason most people buy physical CDs is to get the album book!! People like to read the credits, find out what samples were used, read the 'Thank Yous'. AND WHERE ARE THE PICTURES??? WE NEED MORE PICTURES!!!. I might as well have downloaded the album.