Heavy Starch

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Throughout his debut album, Heavy Starch, Ali offers much of the same singsong rap style that fellow St. Lunatic Nelly popularized. Anyone who enjoyed the first Nelly album, Country Grammar, and the subsequent St. Lunatic album, Free City, should enjoy this album as well given the similarity. However, Ali brings a slightly different agenda to the proceedings. You can tell that he wants to be just as much fun and carefree as Nelly, but he's a much more insightful artist. Unfortunately, these two sides of his character often clash in subtle ways during particular moments during Heavy Starch. For instance, just a mere glance at the cover photo -- no girls, no jewelry, no fancy cars, no cocky posturing -- contrasts what you'd expect from Ali given his Nelly affiliation. This sense of dissonance (does Ali want to be himself or who everyone expects him to be?) weighs down Heavy Starch too often. Granted, there are plenty of fun songs here -- most of them produced by either Jason "Jay E" Epperson or Waiel "Wally" Yaghnam -- yet they don't always seem sincere. Too often Ali seems conflicted, and you can't help wishing he'd drop the act and be himself rather than the flossed-out playboy he's expected to be.

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