Thanks for the kind words, man. The Drunk Drivers?! Great live band, surprised they're still alive and together!
I'm not sure why, but I've always admired Ali more than really loved him until this new one. I think part of it is engineering; the new record just SOUNDS better to me than any of the previous Rhymesayers stuff, even my favorite old tracks. It's also that he's singing more, which is a real untapped strength of his.
I obviously didn't talk much about the music in the piece, but I think he's swinging harder, and is writing almost straight out of his thoughts into songs too personal for me to even feel like I should be reviewing. Live, the new songs and old ones blend into a perfect best-of, and he has the pace down right. His DJ also does a tad more actual cutting and scratching, and Ali does some a capella, which works better for a few of the songs, anyway.
Hearing the album and talking to the guy, and then seeing the reactions in the wider glare of publicity and fan expectations has been interesting. Jesus, growing up on the near East Side of Madison, how many kids were there who wouldn't have exactly known how to answer if you asked them if they were black or white? Now I wonder how many of the most disdainful comments about Ali come from whites desperate to be down.