The two aforementioned emcees can be credited as the only reasons why Minneapolis is even on the map as far as hip-hop goes. Atmosphere’s Slug painted Minneapolis rap as a highly sentimental form of art. Brother Ali on the other hand embodied a gritty and political stance in hip-hop. There are many people who will argue which emcee is more skilled, but both sides’ supporters can agree that the emcees have not held up their respective bars in recent years. The two giants of Rhymesayers Entertainment have been looking like they’re about to pass the torch.
This presumption no longer holds true. With his new LP Left in the Deck, at least Brother Ali has renewed his status as the street preacher. There’s dirt in his shoes, scars in his heart, and knots in his jet white beard. Not only that, but he’s back with a hunger that can rival the likes of Kendrick and Joey Bada$$. He’s rapping in double time. He’s telling potent stories. He’s shooting lyrical arrows. The whole LP is filled with Brother Ali’s best rapping ever.
If this record features Brother Ali’s best rapping, it’s only fitting that Jake One produce his best beats ever for the emcee. Jake One stepped up to the game with his trademark raw beats that make you nod your head and move your feet whether you like it or not. Jake One has always been in love with boom-bap, but the horn and piano samples just sound even more groovy. The result is a ten track LP that hits quick and hard. I wouldn’t object if Jake One became Brother Ali’s only producer from now on.
I realize that this description makes the LP sound rather one-dimensional; however Left in the Deck is anything but so. Jake One still maintains his versatility by churning out soulful tracks like “Well Okay” along with the brooding closer “Devil’s Arms.” And over the two tracks Brother Ali lends his helping hand with lyrics that make you rethink the social situation that you’re currently in. Overall, this record is exactly what needs to be heard from Brother Ali. It is well-rounded, decisive, and astute. Actually, you can call it whatever you want but there’s only one way to describe Left in the Deck: hip-hop.
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