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Friday, October 24, 2014

This Little Underground: Brother Ali at the Social

Posted By on Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 1:37 PM

This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly's music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city's music scene. Read the latest column here.

click to enlarge Brother Ali at the Social (photo by Devin Jacoviello)
  • Brother Ali at the Social (photo by Devin Jacoviello)

Brother Ali at the Social (photo by Devin Jacoviello)

It’s been some years since I’ve soaked in anything by underground rap hero Brother Ali and, after about 10 seconds into the intro of his latest Orlando show (Oct. 20, The Social), I’m already blasting myself for ever losing touch of this master. One of the most cutting talents in the revered Rhymesayers stable, the Minneapolis sharpshooter makes music that seeks truth from the underside. His lyrics feature some of the most natural, humanist and devastating writing in rap music. Hell if I haven’t had to tough-guy it through some of his verses in order to prevent a grown-man sob scene from which I could never socially recover.

click to enlarge Brother Ali at the Social (photo by Devin Jacoviello)
  • Brother Ali at the Social (photo by Devin Jacoviello)

Brother Ali at the Social (photo by Devin Jacoviello)

In skills, he’s the kind of roots hip-hop stylist whose snap-tight rhyming could, by contrast, underscore just how much popular rap has killed your soul if it weren’t for how much life force it fills you with to be in its presence. You know what I did as soon as I got home from the show? I took a damn piss ‘cos, man, all those beers. But then I dug out all the Brother Ali shit I had and threw it back into heavy rotation.

After all these years, he relies on no gimmick or crew, just a rare brand of authenticity. In skill and message, it’s the audacity of pure craft. Quaint or revolutionary, who knows? But it’s truth. And it was met with perhaps not the biggest crowd, but some of the best unity and communion you’ll see at a rap show.

click to enlarge Brother Ali at the Social (photo by Devin Jacoviello)
  • Brother Ali at the Social (photo by Devin Jacoviello)

Brother Ali at the Social (photo by Devin Jacoviello)

Read more This Little Underground:

click to enlarge Me Chinese’s CMJ controversy
  • Me Chinese’s CMJ controversy

Me Chinese’s CMJ controversy

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