I’ve been a fan of Ali ever since I first heard his verses on Atmosphere’s “Cats Van Bags” back in 2003. Maybe it’s the fact that he and I are roughly the same age, but I identify with his lyrics a great deal, despite our very different backgrounds. “Walking Away” helped me through a bad break up in 2006. More recently, “Writers Block” got heavy replay on my iPod when dealing with the loss of my Grandmother in April while gearing up for my first poetry feature in Easton and trying desperately to finish the poems in time to print my chapbook for my feature in Brockton.
Ali’s lyrics offer very detailed descriptions of his life. I would never go so far as to think I would ever personally know any artist just from their body of work. As Maynard James Keenan once said, “All you know about me is what I’ve sold you”. Still, Ali tells so many deeply personal stories that the average fan who knows the lyrics could give you a highlight reel of his major life events: homelessness, poverty, young marriage and parenthood, divorce, new marriage, and finally, stability. So when he puts out a new album, it’s not just new music, it’s another vivid chapter of his life being published. I preordered the album today, and I can’t wait to hear his stories.
“I started rhyming just to be somebody,
I found out that I already was,
cuz can’t nobody be free unless we’re all free
There’s no Me and no You, it’s just Us.
A street preacher – what a fan once called me.
I’ve been called worse and tried to live up.
I hope you don’t mind a few more stories.
I swear to God y’all, I tell ’em with love.”
– Brother Ali, Us