By Fly On The Waltz
In April 2010 I had the pleasure of seeing Brother Ali live at Ritual Nightclub. On tour with Fashawn, this was my first time seeing Ali live. I grew up on the Rhymesayers Entertainment crew, Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Eyedea (RIP) & Abilities, so this was a big show for me.
The thing about a medium like rapping is that your voice is your identity. Brother Ali’s voice is one of those voices that is in a category all its own. And no matter how many times you hear his voice through recordings, you will still be taken aback by hearing him in person.
Somewhere in the middle of his set, Brother Ali stopped between songs to address the crowd. He took the opportunity to explain to us all that he “had no fans” and everyone there was his “friend” instead. He also explained that he “doesn’t throw shows” he “throws parties.” “So we’re all friends, and this is a party, ok?” he asked. The crowd roared and he went back to his set.
Of all the shows I’ve been to, this moment is by far one of the most memorable I’ve witnessed. What Ali was addressing by this statement and mentality is the connection between artists and listeners that can so often be muddled by the transaction-like nature of that very same relationship. The music we feel the closest to often time plays the role of friend in a more literal way than we acknowledge. The music that matters most is often there at our highest, there at our lowest, it speaks to us on a profound level. And when we purchase that CD, t-shirt, or concert ticket we don’t think of it as transaction as much as we think of it as giving back to something that’s already given to us. To hear someone like Brother Ali take the time out of his set to address this dynamic was pretty refreshing.
The show as a whole was great. Brother Ali is an amazing live performer and his live set is very well put together. But what will always stick out in my mind is that I didn’t pay to go be a fan at a show. I went to party with a bunch of friends. And every good “show” I’ve ever been to felt more like a party with a bunch of friends. Check out some footage I found online from the party.