Article By: Morgan Howard
“If you want to have fun tonight, say yes I do!”
Yes, I do!
“If you came here to party, say yes I did!”
Yes, I did!
“If you love who you came with tonight, say yes I do!”
Yes, I do!
“If you love everyone around you, say yes I do!”
Yes, I do!
“Now let me here you say love!”
There was no point within their show, where Brother Ali was not calling the audience to join him. Whether it be singing his lyrics at the top of his lungs, or asking the crowd to reflect on their inner selves and actions.
Ali got his start in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Rapping since he was 8, Ali was well familiar with words and poetry by the time he pursued his art, and his career would take off in 1998. At 15-years-old, Ali converted to Islam and continued to be inspired by other Muslim rappers; using his connection as a starting point to pour his faith the lyrics. He now uses much of his music as a platform to promote social justice and raise awareness with regards to the notion of privilege.
Throughout the years, Ali has done several rounds in promoting social justice. His record, Uncle Sam Goddamn, garnered a lot of publicity for its controversial lyrics, but earned him a place performing the album for the world in 2007 on The Late Late Show and Late Night with Conan O’Brien. When he introduced that song on the Fox’s stage, the crowd got ever slightly more sense of what was coming, and when he let his words free, everyone began to move in unison. With hands raised high in the air, they dropped with each beat and all of the audience were as one; showing their support for what was right, just with motion in their hands.
About halfway through his set, Ali brought out his stunning opener, Sa-roc. Similar to Ali, the DC-born woman of color, has spent much of her life continuously pushing for equality and lack of discrimination in society. As they performed their song “We got this,” together on stage, they stood to represent worlds becoming one. Two very different people with different starts and backgrounds, stood onstage looking more similar than anyone in the crowd.
Brother Ali’s “The Own Light Tour” failed to disappoint Boulder this past week. Promoting his latest album, All the Beauty in This Whole Life, Ali came onstage with a presence and sense of calm that still managed to rock the crowd. Ali blends old school hip hop with current and socially relevant lyrics that push the listener to think. One of his big messages was that beauty is relative. People see it differently, and its ok to call yourself ugly because odds are you aren’t ugly to someone else, you are their version of beautiful. Sometimes politics can be overwhelming when mixed with mainstream music, but Ali does a beautiful job of seamlessly blending his ideas with the soul of his music, causing the message to hit home every time.