Photo by Maddie Ticknor

Brother Ali

Maddie Ticknor /// Staff Writer


Do you want to change the world? Then you need to act! And listen to rap.” At least that’s what Bambu, the opener for Saturday night’s Brother Ali concert, proclaimed as he exited the stage to make way for the main event.
The feminist opener set the stage for like-minded Brother Ali, whose entire show revolved around the idea of social progress through organization of the masses, and, of course, peace and love.
Brother Ali, also known as Ali Newman, has been preaching social activism since 2000 when he came out with his first album, “Right of Passage.”
Part of the hip-hop collective known as Rhymesayers, he urges interracial solidarity through the music community. In his concert, he gave shoutouts to Aesop Rock, Slug, Atmosphere and Immortal Technique, praising the social progress that they have promotes through their rap music.
Brother Ali appropriately opened his set with “The Preacher,” getting the crowd fired up for an energetic evening of rap and social criticism.
Between almost every song, Brother Ali asked the crowd fiery questions, and urged them to answer with, “Yes we do!” and “Yes we can,” reminiscent of President Barack Obama’s call to action during his first presidential campaign.
However, later in the set he called Obama out in his song “Welcome to the United Snakes,” with controversial lyrics involving Obama killing babies with drones. Ali acknowledged the inflammatory, yet powerful, lyrics, stating, “I got in a lot of trouble for this, so enjoy it!”
The conscientious rapper ended his show with what might be his most famous song, “Forest Whitaker.” The lyrics to this song exhort the individual to be true to him or herself and to not conform to society’s expectations. Before singing his encore, Ali asked the audience to raise their hands and simply chant “love,” because that’s the first step toward positive social change.

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