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Rhymesayers Label Spotlight: Brother Ali

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Apr 11, 2010

This article is part six in a thirteen part series, on the artists from the Rhymesayers Entertainment label.  Rhymesayers Entertainment recently won URB Magazine’s Best Label of the Decade. The rappers covered in the series include BK-One, Atmosphere, Mr. Dibbs, Abstract Rude, Freeway, Grieves, Toki Wright, Eyedea & Abilities, Jake One, P.O.S, Evidence, Felt, and Brother Ali.

Brother Ali is a rapper from Minneapolis with about a dozen releases to his name under Rhymesayers. His most recent album, Us, was just recently released and he is currently touring with long time collaborator BK-One, who also has a recent release that we wrote about in our first article of the series.  Rapper Fashawn, critically acclaimed as one of the hottest rising stars in the game (for good reason) is also on the Breakin’ Dawn Tour, and had an incredible opening performance in Toronto just a few nights ago, as you may glean from the video at the bottom of the post where Ali, BK, and Fashawn close out the show with a HUGE track called Breakin’ Dawn Boys.

One of Ali’s goals in making music is to communicate who he is as a person, while imbuing his rhymes with the lessons he’s learned through his life. Overall his songs have excellent lyrics, and the singles are very accessible. For those prepared to dig deep and listen to his volumes, be prepared to get to know this man very well; as he says on his album The Undisputed Truth “If you follow my tapes then you know what I’m about”. With that said, there are a ton of interesting things I could say about the experiences and qualities of Ali that have informed his music, but I get the sense that enough has been said about who he is. Indeed, if there was one message I took from his live show, it was that “there is no me, and there is no you; there is only us”.

An interesting quip that I picked out of an interview he did recently, involving some word use off his first album (he used the word faggot):

I was ignorant when I was first recording… This song is kind of a penance, because there are people walking around in their headphones saying “faggot” because of me.

An awesome quote, I think. Too many people are too wrapped up in consuming and producing the rap ego these days, and Ali just doesn’t buy in. I think the tough subjects and growth embedded in his latest record speak truer than ever.

You can read more about Brother Ali on his myspace, and if you’d like to hear more from his albums or find them for purchase, you should check his Rhymesayers Profile.

The track Baby Girl, off Us, is not a light introduction to Brother Ali – it is perhaps the heaviest track off the record.

[audio:Brother Ali – Babygirl.mp3]

Forest Whitiker is practically an anthem off Ali’s 2003 album Shadows of the Sun. As you can hear, his core message “you aint gotta love me” hasn’t waivered in his last 10 years of releases.

[audio:Brother Ali – Forest Whitiker.mp3]

The Breakin’ Dawn tour is on now, until May 2, 2010. Here are the dates:

Apr 13 2010 8:00P
Jerky’s Live Music Hall – Breakin’ Dawn Tour w/ BK-One and Fashawn Providence, Rhode Island
Apr 14 2010 8:00P
Toad’s Place – Breakin’ Dawn Tour w/ BK-One and Fashawn New Haven, Connecticut
Apr 15 2010 8:00P
Knitting Factory New York – Breakin’ Dawn Tour w/ BK-One and Fashawn Brooklyn, New York
Apr 16 2010 8:00P
Diesel – Breakin’ Dawn Tour w/ BK-One and Fashawn Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Apr 17 2010 8:00P
Kenyon College – Breakin’ Dawn Tour w/ BK-One and Fashawn Gambler, Ohio
Apr 17 2010 8:00P
Kenyon College – Breakin’ Dawn Tour Gambler, Ohio
Apr 20 2010 8:00P
The Soapbox – Breakin’ Dawn Tour w/ BK-One and Fashawn Wilmington, North Carolina
Apr 21 2010 8:00P
The Orange Peel – Breakin’ Dawn Tour w/ BK-One and Fashawn Asheville, North Carolina
Apr 22 2010 8:00P
Music Farm – Breakin’ Dawn Tour w/ BK-One and Fashawn Charleston, South Carolina
Apr 23 2010 8:00P
The Drunken Unicorn – Breakin’ Dawn Tour w/ BK-One and Fashawn Atlanta, Georgia
Apr 24 2010 8:00P
Bottle Tree – Breakin’ Dawn Tour w/ BK-One and Fashawn Birmingham, Alabama
Apr 26 2010 8:00P
Spanish Moon – Breakin’ Dawn Tour w/ BK-One and Fashawn Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Apr 28 2010 8:00P
Exit / In – Breakin’ Dawn Tour w/ BK-One and Fashawn Nashville, Tennessee
Apr 29 2010 8:00P
MOJO’s – Breakin’ Dawn Tour w/ BK-One and Fashawn Columbia, Missouri
Apr 30 2010 8:00P
Otto’s – Breakin’ Dawn Tour w/ BK-One and Fashawn DeKalb, Illinois
May 1 2010 7:00P
Turner Hall Ballroom – Breakin’ Dawn Tour w/ BK-One and Fashawn Milwaukee, Wisconsin
May 2 2010 7:00P
Vaudeville Mews – Breakin’ Dawn Tour w/ BK-One and Fashawn Des Moines, Iowa

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Cal

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