Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Brother Ali: Shadows on the Sun [Rhymesayers Entertainment, 2003]
The voice is anxious--sometimes shrill, sometimes defiant, strong and articulate either way. The beats are soul-simple, not hooky enough for radio or dull enough for old-school. The rhymes are proud, thoughtful, searching, candid, angry, observed. Because Ali is married, he avoids nerd-rap's itchy dick syndrome. Because he's an albino, he knows extra about difference. Because he's a serious Muslim, he's a serious moralist. Because he's a good guy, he's not self-righteous or judgmental. Two of his best songs are about fights. In the funny one he ends up with a bloody eye and a split bicuspid. In the indignant one he clocks a woman-beater and gets arrested. A-