Brother Ali - Mourning In America and Dreaming In Color

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"Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color's" inspiring and heartfelt stance is another triumph for Brother Ali.

When viewed alongside underground emcees content with whining about Hip Hop's supposed morbid state, Brother Ali has made a distinct mark with a much greater mission over the past decade. Using music as a form of therapy, he has carved a niche making fearless songs that are candid snapshots of his life, and as a healer he has applied Mos Def's infamous idea that the health of our culture reflects that of the people in it. His latest call to arms, Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color is Ali's fifth full length release with steady attempts at elevating the masses.

With this effort appropriately centered around the dawn of the upcoming Presidential election, the conscious minded Brother Ali is determined to change society through his compositions without angrily shouting from a soapbox. This present phase of his career finds the Rhymesayers veteran in transition, creatively splitting from frequent producer Ant of Atmosphere (addressed along with deaths of loved ones, marriage woes, and similar struggles to transpire since 2009's Us on the soul baring "Stop the Press") as Jake One becomes the new foil for his forceful delivery. The pride of Seattle handles complete duties behind the boards, helping Brother Ali execute the same introspective and progressive vision he has come to be revered for while simultaneously updating his sound to give a platform to more recent experiences and ideas.

Rather a concerned citizen than a run of the mill enlightened rapper, most of the album finds Brother Ali waxing poetic on pivotal issues affecting the United States in this day and age. Where "Only Life I Know" empathizes with the tortured suffering of the economic crisis, the soulful "Work Everyday" is dedicated to the plight of laymen striving to make ends meet, topics barely considered by common entertainers. Likewise, "Mourning In America" draws a parallel between the country's harsh ghettos and overseas wars, as "Gather Round" is a riveting cry for civic action, both providing strong cases for his inclusion amongst the ranks of modern art's leaders.

Never shying away from speaking on personal matters, "All You Need" continues Brother Ali's series of relaying the grief brought on by his son's mother. While this a departure from the conceptual theme as is "Won More Hit" which compares recording industry practices to the slave trade, neither manage to take focus from the bigger picture. If one were to pick a weaker point, "Need A Knot" is a Southern throwaway too far removed from the Minneapolis spitter's core to easily digest on this otherwise relatable work. In a world that is on the verge of hopelessness, Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color takes an inspiring and heartfelt stance, representing another triumph for the resilient and complex orator Brother Ali.



  • Timothy

    best album ive heard in

  • jake


  • Casey

    Even without Ant on the beats, this is still a fantastic album. For me, it is slightly missing Brother Ali's signature raw style and borders on becoming overly preachy, yet this album is still a classic and a proud achievement in Ali's career.

  • SDK


  • Berlin

    This album is unbelievable! The lyrics are great and so is the production. I saw Brother Ali live in Berlin, his appearance is so convincing. He really stands for his words and is not just pretending! Rhymesayers 4ever!


    I'm Feeling It Yessir!

  • sister ali

    the messages are good.. but the flow is kinda boring

  • Rain

    This album was good, I like the the message but it was on the boring side. Not really a huge fan of him, he never switches up his flow and the album sounds like one long song. I like Lupe album better, I give this album 3.7 Jake one had some nice production!

  • Ramiro

    i think this album is great. i especially like bumping it while reading his lyrics that he provided on the CD. shit is sick!

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    didn't know santa can rap :o lol

  • anonymus

    best album for a long long time, i listen to it the whole time, so great!!

  • Anonymous

    * how that = how he Damn typos.

  • Anonymous

    As I wrote months before: you can't go wrong with Brother Ali and Jake One. Latter for Rhymesayers is what Mannie was for Cash Money. Love how that underground and mainstream at the same time, doing regularly high-profile works too. And as well as Ali, one of the most soulful, purest MC with a great flow. Well done, well done.

  • wouzi

    CLASSIC!!!!!!!!!! ALBUMS OF THE YEAR: BROTHER ALI Mourning In America and Dreaming In Color AND NAS LIFE IS GOOD

  • Anonymous

    glad i bought this album...after the 1st time listening to it, i had mixed feeling about it..decided to listen to it a second time and i dont know man, it just seemed a lot better the second ime...this is definitely an album that grows on you the more you listen to it..i would definitely advise you to go out and buy this album,you can tell that this guy worked way too hard and revealed way too much personal stories for somebody to just listen to the whole thing on youtube or download it illegaly..if any album deserves to be bought, it is definitely this one right here

  • phuckyall

    Very very dope content wise. Everything he speaking on your everydayman and woman goes thru....

  • calibeatbox420

    I'm very critical of Ali albums due to the fact he set the bar so damn high with his debut "Shadows of the Sun". So like Nas fans do with Illmatic I hold Ali to those standards he set with Shadows. It is sad to see Ant removed from the boards but Jake One's beats mesh well with Alis voice. This album finishes on a very strong note with songs that will take you back to Shadows. Definitely better than "US" and I'd say right now its tied with "Undisputed Truth", is it better.....only time will tell.

    • Anonymous

      i like hearing Brother Ali with Jake. Ant is one of the greatest producers ever, but after all those albums with Ant, this is refreshing.

  • RSE

    Amazing work from Ali on this album. The only song I wasn't feeling was "Need a Knot", and that is because of the chorus from Bun B and the beat sounding so southern - The lyrics on it are cool and the concept is fresh though. Other than that one song the rest of them are jamming and I am loving this album. Brother Ali has such a flawless discography, no other rapper has his consistency except maybe Slug. PEACE Hip-Hoppers!

  • Jason Newman

    I LOVE that this got a higher rating than Cruel Summer. Shows that this site isn't full of company men and actually listens to albums once in a while before giving them ratings based on major label payola. This album is brilliant and speaks to me more than any album I have ever heard. Coming from a huge Brother Ali fan I'd give it a 5 but at least this site isn't being disrespectful like they were to Blu & Madchild. The sound is different than his albums with Ant (obviously) but I think the change is necessary at this point in his career. Another album with Ant would have been like rehashing the old shit but Jake One breathed new life into the Brother on this one. Congrats DX, you didn't fuck this one up.

    • TaZzZ

      Glad to see that there are people who take the time to appreciate this man's words because he may not be the most digestible emcee, but you can feel his conviction in every line. He is like the hip hop Ghandi to me. He is aware of everything that he does and he has a beautiful soul that shines through every word he utters... This is my album of the year, hands down. If there were even ten more Brother Ali's in this world, it would be a much better place. Can't wait to see him again live. He has touched my soul like only a few emcees ever have before and I hope more people take the time to look past everything else and appreciate him for what he is; a revolutionary hip hop artist and a beautiful human being.

  • Matt

    sounds like a calmed down Pharoahe Monch

  • Show

    Another white boy with a fake accent


    After racking up 10 million views on Youtube and rockin stages from Coachella to Conan OBrien - indie hip-hops finest, Brother Ali is set to release his long awaited fourth studio album, Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color produced by Jake One. Fully recharged and inspired by his eye-opening first trip to Mecca, the 2011 uprisings in the Middle East, and the world wide Occupy movements, Brother Ali is prepared to unveil his fourth full-length offering Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color. Created during a self-imposed two-month exile in Seattle and helmed by platinum-selling producer Jake One (50 Cent, T.I., Wiz Khalifa), the album presents a scathing yet honest critique of America and its many flaws while simultaneously presenting a hopeful outlook of its possibilities. Preceded by the release of free music downloads with accompanying music videos such as Shine On," "Writers Block, and Not A Day Goes By," Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color is the pice de rsistance. In an age of hip-hop where the paradigm of swag over substance reigns supreme, few emcees are willing to use their platform to tackle the hot-button topics and pressing social maladies of our time - but its apparent that Minneapolis-based hip-hop artist Brother Ali is one of those few. Over the course of 14 tracks with assists from esteemed author/ professor Dr. Cornel West, revered Southern hip-hop icon Bun B, and Def Poetry Jam poet Amir Sulaiman, the album brazenly holds a mirror to the idiosyncrasies of American life while simultaneously painting a vibrant portrait of its wondrous potential. Actualizing hip-hops full range of motion as a gage for the times, Mourning In America and Dreaming In Color asserts itself as the definitive soundtrack of a disenchanted, disenfranchised, and wildly optimistic citizenry during a landmark period in American history. In a moment of artistic preemptive strike, Brother Ali recognized this prime opportunity to examine and address the underpinnings of the burgeoning stance of mass opposition: This is not just a new album, but a new chapter. Theres a kind of democratic reawakening in people at this point in time. I was really looking to take these topics and really hit them hard. To try to open ears and hearts and invite people to take some action and feel empowered. To be engaged and take some agency and responsibility for whats going on in the world. Melding the zeitgeist of classic works such as Ice Cubes critical 1991 album Death Certificate and Marvin Gayes 1971 sociopolitical opus Whats Goin On with his keen observations on topics such as race, the Occupy movement, and the hypocrisy of war, Brother Ali has crafted a fresh lyrical approach and dynamic new sound - the result is a stunning collection of hard-hitting lyrics and beats. The state of the union address commences with Letter To My Countrymen, a spirited appeal to fellow Americans with a tailor made guest vocal from Cornel West. Brother Ali speaks on the institution of poverty on Only Life I Know while the quasi-autobiographical Stop The Press addresses his albinism, the death of his father, and his remarkable yet challenging journey through hip-hop. Mourning In America, in part the albums title track, offers a brutally honest look at Americas convoluted and hypocritical relationship to murder. Featuring a searing verse from poet Amir Sulaiman, Gather Round is a battle cry to the masses to take an ardent interest in the social ills plaguing society. Brother Ali puts underemployment and hyper consumerism in the face of socioeconomic turmoil on blast on Work Everyday. Need A Knot, featuring the voice of Bun B, finds Brother Ali skillfully veiling a series of odd jobs in analogies of illegal hustles. Namesake is the seldom-told tale of a pre-fame Muhammad Ali one of Americas most dynamic personas whom Brother Ali is also named after. The set ends with the outro Singing This Song, a track that showcases another one of Brother Alis passions speaking engagements. The song features highlights of Alis riveting public address at a mass demonstration demanding justice for Trayvon Martin. Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color, in all its sonic and lyrical glory, promises to be both the voice of a burgeoning new critical American consciousness and the beacon of hope for those that hold fast to its ideals and potential.

  • Anthony T

    Great album...dude never disappoints! Spoken true, unlike most people nowadays.

  • Matt

    Album is great, listening to it through right now after listening to it in bits and pieces. I've enjoyed all Brother Ali's albums, he always has something interesting to say.

  • So Icy Boi!

    who is diz albino nigga? dis sounds outdated to me and I dont understand his wack ass lyrics. YMCMB is better. swag

    • Tasnif

      Good one. Almost thought you weren't joking.

    • Chrissy

      Swag is for boys, class is for men. If you're too vacuous to appreciate the poignancy laden in his lyrics, than that's your fault. And your mother clearly did not teach you how to spell properly.

  • BigTyBeatDowns

    Taking some time to get used to no Ant. Hearing Ali rap over a southern style beat was very odd but I'm going to take some time to make a final judgement on this joint. It's no where near as head noddin' as his previous albums, that's one thing I'll say for now.

    • Anonymous

      you MUST be joking. Jake One is a beast on the boards. It's refreshing to hear Ali with another producer (no disrespect to ANt, one of the best to do it)

  • Luzh

    Ali's back After the dissapointing, happy go lucky, US my expectations were low for this one. And after the 1st verse of the 1st song I was worried that the old Brother Ali was gone forever. But it all changed after the 1st two bars of the 2nd verse. I suddenly realised that he had something to say. Ali spits...We dont really like to talk about the race thing the whole grandparents owned slaves thing... Brother Ali was always coy about his race even going as far as saying that ahe does not believe in race. When he admits that US was far from his best work on Stop The Press it makes him more credible. Bringing Jake One on board refreshes his sound. Brother Ali has always been a conscious rapper but on this latest he also reminds us that he is also a beast on the mike Well done Brother Ali

  • Chicago Rilla

    Pretty solid album, at times Ali sound like a Pharoahe monch clone in terms of flow. And he raps the same flow on alot of songs but Jake One is what makes this album solid, he's one of the most underrated producers ever. 4 outta 5 though right on point, even though i love/hate the fact this guy at all times sound extremely preachy

    • TaZzZ

      You think Ali is preachy? Its an incredibly difficult line to balance when you want to be an emcee that speaks your mind about issues that impact us all. But I have always felt like he has done it in a way that inspires you to think for yourself rather than telling you what to think. If there is any emcee who can find that balance between social commentary and preaching it Ali, in my opinion. He brings me back to those Public Enemy days but the tone is more introspective than in your face. Personally, I feel like this dude has one of the most beautiful souls to ever bleed through my speakers and I can't get enough. People like him breath life into hip hop, breath life into the world...

    • Alteez

      What's wrong with "sounding like" Pharoahe Monch? He's one of the greatest emcees of all-time. A lot of cats tailor their style like his. Prime example: Elzhi.

  • HiiiPoWeR

    One of my top 5 albums of the year alongside the likes of Ab-Soul, Killer Mike, Big K.R.I.T. & Nas.

    • Anonymous

      @Chicago: even if that is his opinion you're way off saying RAP Music "isn't top 5 worthy at all". The chemistry between his voice and the beats were incredible, He had good contents, concepts, flow, delivery, everything. I don't understand how you could demean the value of that album as a hip-hop fan, even if you don't think it's the "best".

    • HiiiPoWeR

      I said "One of MY top 5 albums of the year".

    • Chicago Rilla

      Killer Mike's Album isn't top 5 worthy at all, barely top 10 because alot of these mixtapes sound like albums

  • Ali

    If you love true Hip Hop BUY THIS ALBUM! Excellent production and on point lyrics. It just feels so right.....


    Sometimes soul searching finds you. Inspired by his life-changing first trip to Mecca, the 2011 uprisings in the Middle East and the worldwide Occupy movements, Brother Ali has returned with a rejuvenated purpose and voice on his new album Mourning In America and Dreaming In Color. Brother Ali's pilgrimage to Mecca came amidst the deepest and most difficult struggles of the Rhymesayers flowmaster's life; between the death of his father and that of his beloved friend Michael "Eyedea" Larsen, as well as the boiling point of unrest around the world last year and the flourishing uprising of the worldwide Occupy movements, Ali found himself at an unexpected crossroads that saw his most trusted connections either away on commitments or gone for good. As such a moment in time is bound to do, the man turned inward, exploring the deeper voice linking the dissonance to a larger condition in our civilization. Then he pressed record. Ali's fifth full-length offering Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color was concocted during a two-month self-imposed exile in Seattle, alongside mega-producer Jake One (50 Cent, T.I., Wiz Khalifa). A departure from the soulful anthems and philosophical butter of his previous album Us, Mourning is a fire in the heart of darkness, an incendiary critique of America's corrosive consumerism culture and apathetic sociopolitical designs - but not without a hand on the lifeline of redemption. It's not enough to rage against the machine in 2012; people need a way out, a light at the end of these impossible corridors, this labyrinth of complication and information overload. Through the album's brightest peaks and darkest narrative valleys, Ali never loses sight of the horizon, of the dawn waiting to break on a civilization drowning in its own delusion - and he reminds us that the only way to get there is to run towards it together. Aided by the legendary author/ professor Dr. Cornel West, Southern rap icon Bun B and Def Poetry Jam poet Amir Sulaiman, Ali enters not with a roar of bomb-dropping arrival but a bright instrumentation appeal that rings an optimistic tone in line with that of the true patriotism laid out in verse, a whole-hearted devotion to rising above, "no matter how many times my heart's been smothered." Rather than the "never forget" rhetoric and regurgitated flag-wrapped sloganeering, however, Ali asks directly through "Letter To My Countrymen" whether it makes any sense to call ourselves the greatest nation in the world, a post-racial bliss point that takes care of its own and lifts up the struggling, when the evidence to the contrary is obliterating. But don't mistake that for damnation - it's a soft-spoken reminder of reality from a place of love. To leap forward from any place, one must know the reality of their footing. What does it mean to be American?" he asks. "I think the struggle to be free is our inheritance/ And if we say it how it really is, we know our lily skin still give us privilege/ advantages given to the few that are built into the roots of our biggest institutions.... do I fight in the movement, or think I'm entitled to it? The track ends with a reaffirmation from Dr. Cornel West, who diagnoses Americana 2012 with an individual optimist slant: You dont wanna be just well adjusted to injustice and well adapted to indifference. You wanna be a person with integrity who leaves a mark on the world. Poverty is laid raw on "Only Life I Know," and with 46.2 million Americans falling below the line of the impoverished in the most recent numbers, this one should hit home across the board. The horn-punch thrust and snare snap frames the devastating urgency present in the lyrical desperation of struggling Americana - one reminder among many that Jake One provides the inimitable ride in which our narrator flows. Ali then turns the focus inward in the autobiographical "Stop The Press," a moving relay of the past few years in the man's struggles. It brings us up to date on his fight for balance in life, and even slights 2009's remarkably powerful Us album as he confesses to being off his game a bit. The album title's first half the Mourning half is a callback to Ronald Reagan's famous "Morning in America" campaign ad ("That's the one that started this whole neo-con thing we got going on"), and it's a dose of synchronicity at a time when the red half the nation's political trumpeters lionize Reagan as the embodiment of their modern ideas of leadership and conservatism - to which the late president would've seemed like a hard progressive leftist. Nevertheless, the title track is a dark shift indicator, aggression taking the front seat as frustration and anguish are laid out with lyrical bombs and bloodshed. Is this the same man who flowed like a zen prophet of love just two years ago? Yes, it is. And this dynamic is precisely what makes Brother Ali among Hip-Hop's most valuable treasures; his street-preacher wisdom both embraces and transcends the feel-good flow as well as the doom & gloom, a full spectrum of reality in the narrated struggles of our existence. Electric guitar and compressed claps deliver the furious "Gather Round," a Pharoahe Monch edge as the Bible and Quran's higher callings are held high above those who trumpet their authority but practice so little of the text they wave. By contrast, the magnetic "Work Everyday" outlines -with a slight Sean Carter flare to the flow - the modern struggle on the slippery slope of stagnant wages and skyrocketing living costs in a corporatist outsourcing business paradigm. Named for the sunrise Islamic prayer, "Fajr" takes the tale of righteousness and piously serving a greater good and spins it into the era of spiritual disconnect and Constitution-stripping authoritative grip we exist in, reminding of the essential importance of keeping "the wolves off the sheep". Regardless of personal perspective on Islam, imagine for a moment what kind of consciousness American society would be rooted in if all of us took time, five times a day, to stop and spend a moment in silent thought/energy focus, reminding ourselves what our purpose is, what our greater goals and values are. Do you think reality TV culture would rule the day? Do you truly believe that our collective culture could embrace apathetic individualism as we currently do while our friends, neighbors and loved ones suffer in floundering decline? In the Land Of The Free, it takes those truly brave to not only remind themselves - and others - daily of the responsibility we have to lift each other up, but to live it. So many on both sides of the consumer aisle, both artist and fan alike are short-sighted in their examination of what it means to rise above cynical shit talking and actually plant seeds of inspiration, information and educated conversational architecture to help create the world most only gripe that we're not living in. With Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color, Brother Ali stands tall with a smoke-free mirror, reflecting the cancerous lesions on the collective herd mind and offering substantive ideas on compassion, love and community support through sometimes searing and often endearing observations on race, the catalyst for the Occupy movement, the hypocrisy of war and general social oppression in America. Welcome to the Mourning. Don't mistake this for an obituary of hope. A naked assessment of abandonment of ideals and potential, these 14 tracks provide a foothold for progress in a world of blinding distraction and injustice.

  • Anonymous

    This needs to be rated higher than Slaughterhouses new album because its head and shoulders above it, no disrespect to the House Gang but this is just such a classic

  • Anonymous

    Incredible album. This is how real Hip Hop is done people

  • yes

    4/5 is spot on. Brother Ali is a technically-great rapper, who has gotten so preachy and so monotonous since his first two albums.

    • TaZzZ

      He's just growing up... Ali has always been in tune with himself and the world around him and I think he has put a mission into his music at this point in his career. He wants to make you think, feel and bear witness, which personally I wish there was more of that in hip hop. This album gave me chills in the first minute because you can tell his soul is in every bar. No, he doesn't rap for the sake of rapping. He raps for the sake of changing the world, one ear at a time. 90% of rappers nowadays just rap for the sake of it, theres very little power in that. Every line in this joint means something that he truly believes, and you have to appreciate that sort of integrity...

    • Jason

      Hard to disagree with that. He needs to have more fun making songs and with his creativity and abilities something good can actually come from just rapping for the sake of rapping. "Need A Knot" was actually a pretty good example of him doing this which stands out from the rest of this record. The review lists this as the low-point of the album but I think it was a nice addition and that the album could have used a few more songs like that.

  • Richie

    The whole album was dope! Great to see a hip hop artist who is willing to make meaningful, socially conscious, and intelligent music. Brother Ali is a hero

  • SAN

    Dope record from both ALI & Jake One...soo relevant!


    Brother Ali is one of the most consistent MC's in Hip Hop. I feel like this album has been the pinnacle of what his previous releases have been building towards. He is always on point with Lyrices, content and beats. Though i was bummed to hear Ant wasn't on Jake One is a dope producer and his work clearly shines though. Do yourself a favor and pick this album up, one of the best Hip Hop albums to drop this year.

  • Raymond

    This is album of the year material

  • Tim

    wow, not even one comment yet. i think ali deserves more attention... even on this site.