The infamous rapper Brother Ali graced Denver with a sold out show this past Saturday night. The stage was shared that evening by a plethora of musical stars: Cysko Rockwel & K. Flay, DJ Abilities Denver-based act MTHDS, as well as Evidence, Danny Brown, and Prof.
The two openers that stood out the most to me at this weekend’s show were Danny Brown and Prof. Detroit rapper Danny Brown started gaining major attention with the 2011 release of his album XXX, which he released online as a free download to fans. On Saturday night, it was clear that Denver fans were familiar with hit singles, and enjoyed his traditional rap flavor. Danny Brown is slated to play this year’s Coachella festival out in Indio, California, so if you’re headed west for either of the weekends in April, be sure to catch his set! The other big attention-getter of the evening was Prof, a Minneapolis-based rapper who’s heavy, driving beats had the entire venue shaking, ceiling to floor. Touring in the past with acts like Andre Nickatina, Tech N9ne, his lyrics fit much of that genre, looking to cater to a younger audience. His song “The Season” samples Denver natives DevotchKa, which was a welcome surprise to this local scene aficionado. He played two different slower songs, one called “Whiskey & Women”, which was a nice change of pace from the rest of his set. Ending with the single “Yeah Buddy” off of his last record, King Gampo, and the kids in the audience went wild.
Last to take the stage was Brother Ali. Known for his intensely deep lyrics and powerful stage presence, Ali certainly did not disappoint the audience. From the moment he hit the stage, Brother Ali brought an intensity to the stage unlike any I’ve seen before. Fans were certainly ready, already dancing and singing along by the end of the first song. Blasting out single after single, Brother Ali played a mix of songs off of his five different albums, including his most recent release - 2012’s Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color. Fan favorite songs like “Uncle Sam Goddamn”, “Baby Girl” and “Forrest Whitaker” were just a few of many played throughout the set. The mild-mannered rapper spent little time speaking between songs, but did take a moment to mention that “I come from a time when artists made albums, not just one song with a pretty chorus you can sing along to”. As mild as he may seem in person, Brother Ali attacks the microphone, and performs with the tenacity of a whole band. With lyrics packed as full of truth as ever, listening to a Brother Ali set feels much like listening to a man’s story of spiritual awakening, all stories full of truth, offering wisdom to those struggling with the same battles. Bringing on Denver natives and past tour-mates the ReMINDers to help with his encore, Brother Ali’s show was high energy beginning to end. To say I was impressed would truly be an understatement. Ali’s abilities behind both the microphone and the pen shine through during his live shows, giving back to die-hard fans in a big way. Even as a newcomer to his music, I left Saturday night wanting more, and can guarantee I will be In the audience the next time he graces Denver with his presence. Check out more photos here.