Brother Ali – Us (10th anniversary vinyl reissue)

4 out of 5

Label: Rhymesayers

Produced by: Ant

So, firstly, if you don’t already own this album: yes, this would be the way to go. It’s one of Ali’s best, and Ant’s soulful production plus the gospel leanings on a majority of the tracks go great with the hiss of vinyl. It already sounds very warm and real on CD – the version via which I first experienced this – so I don’t want to mislead that there’s any added nuance to the vinyl, it’s just a format preference that works really well with this material. And in addition, you get two new tracks on both a 7″ and as part of the digital download that came with the release.

But my rating isn’t representative of all that greatness, because I do already own this, so it’s more a consideration of whether or not the double dip is worth it, and I’d say the rating would probably go down another notch if my other edition was also vinyl, because this isn’t a remaster – just a reissue; presumably the original vinyl is of the same quality. Otherwise, besides a new coloring on the LPs, the packaging and all is essentially the same – no extras there. If I were ranking the new tracks as standalones, they’re inessential, but both good boast tracks. Unfortunately, that’s the rub there: they’re both pretty much the same, content-wise, just with different guests. Doesn’t mean they’re not worth a listen (and again, getting this on wax plus these tracks was worth it to me), but while The Freshest Kids is definitely a badass track, with an immediately grabbing beat and excellent verses from Ali, Toki Wright, BK One and Evidence – already a powerhouse, there – Fashawn and BK-One joining for followup Breakin’ Dawn Boys is just kind of like the also-rans cousin of the former track in comparison.

So somewhere in the mix of all that, you, Brother Ali fan and potential already-owner of a copy of Us, can make the decision.