Brother Ali Floats Like a Butterfly and Stings Like a Bee

Brother Ali

April, 2

Starlite Room


When Brother Ali last checked into Edmonton, he seemed nothing like the positive, energetic self he claims to be on his albums (namely, 'Forest Whitaker' from his first Rhymesayers release, Shadows on the Sun).  About 2 years ago a brooding, tour-worn Ali tip-toed onto the Brixx stage and laid down his then controversial album The Undisputed Truth nearly track for track. On the strength of his rhymes, it was an enjoyable performance, yet there was still a lot missing. Part of the appeal of seeing a hip-hop set is the natural energy and charisma of the MC.  Yet, Brother Ali didn't really capture that then:  no real stage banter, no improvised work - no real presence.  So, naturally - for  much as I enjoy the MC's work - I wasn't all too excited about Friday's set.


Rather than tip-toe, Ali erupted onto stage on this visit to Edmonton - a much bigger entrance, in the much larger Starlite Room.  And as he proceeded through his catalogue - which contained work mainly from The Undisputed Truth and his latest, Us - Ali engaged the audience with every syllable he dropped.  And for as much as artists claim that they 'Love City A' and that that 'City A' has been their favourite stop of the tour, when Ali said this, you really believed him.  Artists know when they're lying; the audience knows when they are being lied to.  Ali rattled off his powerful, surging rhymes for over an hour, as Ant's (of Atmosphere fame)  orchestral beats infused with soul, blues and old-school hip hop guided the audience.  It seems ludicrous to announce a theme of Ali's show, but as much as you might try, you cannot help but be captured by his genuine positivity and overarching confidence.  As his energy swayed the crowd, his performance only got stronger. By the end, you'd be convinced that it wasn't that same Ali who played here that other time.  





And for as much as it's talked about, being an Albino of particular largess, is what strikes you on first impression of the big man.  Through his words, Ali embraces the struggles and differences his life has had and translates them into genuine positivity through his catalogue of upbeat, positive poetry.


more in Music Feature     |     posted Apr 14th, 2010 at 9:23am     

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