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Outhouse Music Review Group: Brother Ali - Mourning in America & Dreaming in Color

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Rain Partier

Postby LOLtron » Sat Feb 16, 2013 11:45 am

Outhouse Music Review Group: Brother Ali - Mourning in America & Dreaming in Color

In a new feature here on The Outhouse, the inaugural monthly music review group checks out Brother Ali's Mourning in America & Dreaming in Color! Join in the discussion!

Welcome to the Outhouse Music Review Group: Week One

Longtime Outhouse writer and community member Keb has the pick this month:

Artist: Brother Ali

Album: Mourning in America & Dreaming in Color

But It on Amazon:

Digital Copy Available: Yes

Release Date: September 18, 2012

Genre: Hip Hop

This album is available at the link above as a CD w/ free digital download for $10, a digital download alone for $6, and on vinyl for $26. If you want to find it somewhere else, like Spotify, that's up to you. Go pick up a copy, give it a listen (or a few listens), and then head back here and post your review. There are no rules for the length or substance of reviews, except that if I think you didn't actually listen to the album, I'll disqualify it.

That's it! Enjoy! 

How to Join

Want to join the Outhouse Music Review Group? It's totally easy. All you have to do is post a review! How do you do that, you ask? Why, it's simple! You could sign up for the forums, and then click the Discuss on Forum link at the bottom of this page to join in the forum discussion. There you can post your own review and discuss the album with others.

If you don't want to sign up for the forums, you can post your review in the Facebook comments at the bottom of the page.

We'll send out a notice on Facebook and Twitter when a new pick is up, so be sure to like our Facebook Page and Follow Us on the Twitter.

The Rules

The rules are simple. Post a review within a month of the announcement of this month's album. If you post a review, you'll be added to the roster. For every month that you post a review, your name moves up in the rotation. When your name is at the top of the list, it's your turn to pick. You can pick any album that came out in the past two years.

Review picks will be posted on the third Saturday of each month. I'll contact you when it's your turn to pick.

The Roster

  1. Keb
  2. DMM
  3. Punchy
  4. Zero
  5. Guitarsmashley
  6. ThatGuyRoman
  7. Jude Terror

But This is a Comic Book Website?!

Deal with it!

Written or Contributed by Jude Terror

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<( ' . ' )>

Postby Keb » Sat Feb 16, 2013 6:12 pm

If anyone in the group is short on cash and needs a copy, pm me.

this message will self-destruct...
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<( ' . ' )>

Postby Keb » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:36 am

I'll start it out since it's my pick. This is pretty long, but I feel like I should give it a thorough review since I'm forcing you all to listen to it.

Okay, first of all, this is not my favorite album of 2012 and in fact it doesn’t even slide into my top five. Granted, 2012 was the year I invested a lot of time and money into the music industry but with so many stellar hip hop releases, it seems odd that when tasked to find an album for the group to review, I would pick one that I didn’t fall in love with. Usually when people do these things, it’s to push their favorite albums or artists.

Truthfully, I am a big fan of Brother Ali. I’ve seen him live on three occasions and all three times he has been stellar. This man can perform some hip hop. He can also write some decent songs. From the get-go, Ali’s music has been fueled by his personal trials of being a single parent raising a young son, dealing with those who have rejected or hurt him and coming to terms with who he is as a person. Many of his songs feature his Islamic beliefs and more recently he has started taking a more critical stance towards social, political and cultural issues in America. His latest album is a culmination of all of these criticisms manifesting within him.

That’s why I picked Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color for the review group. I wanted something that would provoke thought among the group rather than just shoving my favorite music down your throats. The album’s focus is on political issues in America and I can dig that. There are a lot of things Ali comments on happening in the United States, but from what I gather he has a split opinion on the state of affairs in his country. On the one hand, he appears to be the common man, fed up with struggling to get by in a failing economy and realizing that blaming the government is not a proactive solution. On the other, he finds the beauty in the struggle and by doing so is able to realize why he loves the country in the first place.

The album opens with the heart-felt Letter to My Countrymen, detailing the very split described above and also featuring an inspiring guest appearance by Cornel West. Immediately following, Ali gets right into the social and political commentary with songs like Only Life I Know, Mourning in America, Gather Round and Work Everyday. I will say even though Ali is on point with a lot of what he’s saying, there are instances where the political and social just get to be too overpowering and the content enters the “preachy” realm. The precise moment where it shifts into preachy mode is the song Won More Hit. This has to be the worst song I’ve ever heard by Brother Ali. The lyrics feel like he’s shoving the subject down my throat and the beat sounds like a weak imitation of some of the weak beats in hip hop today. The hook doesn’t help at all. Yes, I know what the song is about.

However, the album’s stroke of brilliance comes on the track before. Need a Knot is one of the best Brother Ali tracks ever made. Not only is the song thoughtful and clever, the Bun B sample (from Freeway’s Rhymesayers release, no less) fits the vibe of the album. It’s definitely the kind of song that can make the heads laugh. Also great to dance to! But it also says a lot about the term “hustle” and what it really means to hustle to survive.

The album hits a low at Won More Hit and rides that low for a few more songs. Thankfully, Namesake turns the album around. Of all the personal tracks on the album, I enjoy Namesake the most. While Stop the Presses is Ali talking to his friends and All You Need is Ali talking to his son, Namesake is a completely different song. Ali shows his respect for Muhammad Ali on the track in a manner that doesn’t just say “He was the greatest because…” but rather “I chose his name and admire him because…” It’s very rare we see these kinds of songs in hip hop.

Musically, this album is very different from past Brother Ali records. This is Ali’s first major album with a producer not named ANT behind the boards making beats, and while Ali has worked with Jake One here and there, this is the first time they’ve teamed up for an entire album. Personally, I like the beats on the album as they complement the maturity Ali has reached. I also appreciate how these beats allow Brother Ali’s music more accessibility to the mainstream as I believe much of his message and music should be heard by a wider audience. I would say the Brother Ali + Jake One pairing has worked in favor of both artists and if they made another album together, I wouldn’t be mad. The Atmosphere fan in me misses the ANT beats though.

Overall, I enjoyed the album. It was a pleasant experience. When I found out that Brother Ali was releasing a new album, I wasn’t sure what to think. His previous album, Us, was a jumbled mess of energies that didn’t quite culminate into something memorable. It’s nice to see that Ali’s Hajj (Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca) allowed him to really figure out what he wants to say. While at times he tries to hit people over the head with too much social and political criticism, there are times where his message really shines and I can appreciate that. It’s rare that I can connect to an artist through social criticism but in this case, Ali’s music has helped me reflect on my own beliefs and for that, I am grateful.

Looking forward to other reviews.
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Staff Writer

Postby Punchy » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:37 am

Listening to this album now.
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S.F. Jude Terror


Postby S.F. Jude Terror » Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:02 pm

I plan to get a copy of this this weekend.
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<( ' . ' )>

Postby Keb » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:11 pm

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Rain Partier

Postby DMM » Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:08 pm

Nice! I'll try to get my review in this weekend.
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Rain Partier

Postby DMM » Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:10 pm

Nice! I'll try to get my review in this weekend.
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Staff Writer

Postby Punchy » Thu Mar 07, 2013 9:10 am

Mourning In America And Dreaming In Colour
Brother Ali

Rhymesayers and Warner Music Group

Being a middle class white guy from England, it should come as no surprise that I’m not exactly a rap and hip-hop aficionado. Sure, I was big into Eminem when I was 12, and I really like Kanye West for being a glorious egotistical douchebag genius, but my knowledge of rap is painfully lacking, and even more so when you move away from the mainstream ‘bling and bitches’ stuff and into more politically conscious (blergh) music like this album from Brother Ali.

I’m not really sure what I made of this album, it was exciting and different to hear a rapper actually rap about something other than the usual topics, and it was also interesting to get some music from the perspective of an American Muslim, a type of person who is under-represented in popular culture (it’s basically this dude and the new Green Lantern).

I also appreciated how this was a rap album that was pretty much only by one dude, I find it infuriating when an album has 3 guest-artists on each track and they have more to do than the guy who’s actual album this is. Only 4 out of the 16 tracks feature someone other than Brother Ali, and it was good to get that kind of authorial vision, when may other rap albums become a clusterfuck. Also, one of those featured is Dr Cornel West, who is not the kind of person you would expect to show up on a rap song.

When it came to this album, I must admit I find myself paying more attention to the backing-beats at times than I did the lyrics, Brother Ali raps fairly quickly, and maybe it’s just my whitebread tendencies, but found it hard to follow, which is why it’s a good job the beats were very good.

So… yeah, this album isn’t really for me, but I enjoyed it for what it was, and how it was attempting to push rap music in a different direction from the facile place it is these days. If you like hip-hop, you should probably check this out, and if you don’t, this may be a good place to find a new kind of rap, one with a bit more substance than Pitbull or fucking Drake.

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Staff Writer

Postby Punchy » Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:55 pm

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<( ' . ' )>

Postby Keb » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:55 pm


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