Brother Ali – Sensitive

3 out of 5

Label: Rhymesayers

Produced by: Brother Ali

A laid-back, self-produced beat; a confessional track from Ali.

Musically, Sensitive has a solid core, a kind of R&B guitar lick which matches the artist’s more slowed up delivery. But this is exactly all it is: just that groove and a sample, with one off-beat stop midway through, but otherwise unchanging. In an album, tracks like that can hold their own, but as one-off singles, it’s pleasant but not notable, which makes the B-side of the 7″ version of this – an instrumental – down to that same description: pleasant, but not notable.

The focus is clearly on the lyrics, and Ali delivers his usual soulfulness, and very much stripped down to something personal this time: the struggle to continue with music, for all the reasons life and one’s own doubts throw up in your way. Ali is always pretty up front with his thoughts, but it’s normally outward-gazing with some self-reflection thrown in. Having the song almost exclusively pointing inward is interesting, and insightful into the mind of a creative. …But, y’know, the last verse, he has to get a lil’ Ali about it and turn back around, when recalling some praise he gets during a radio interview. A fair point is made during the verse, but it feels like a back-step on what he’d been rapping about previously, and is also then an odd way to close the song out.