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Brother Ali Casts Shadow on First Ave

Brother Ali 1st Ave
Photo: Travis Meier, Brother Ali, 1st Avenue, Shadows On The Sun Tour

Forgetfulness! It’s a part of the daily struggle which we call life. The deed can be treated from a minor shoulder shrug example, “I forgot your personal belonging” to an I-wanna-poison-your-oatmeal example, “I have been on two dates with a girl, kissed her, and don’t remember her name.”

Brother Ali’s Shadows of the Sun show was one week ago, and I wanted to touch on the forgotten aspect of many concerts, the openers. Openers are something concertgoers take for granted. Normally it’s a time to sit outside the venue, burn a deathstick and drink a beer before committing any brainpower towards listening. When you do hang around inside, sometimes the openers end up abusing your ears. Unless, of course, Dem Atlas is opening.

Brother Ali and Dem Atlas @ 1st Ave
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Photo: Travis Meier, Brother Ali and Dem Atlas, 1st Avenue, Shadows On The Sun Tour

Taking me by surprise, Dem Atlas came on stage, busting out hits from his latest album, Bad Actress. A security guard and I both agreed, it’s like watching a young modern-day Prince. He has the energy and the skills which excite crowds to the level of headliners.

Born in Akron, OH and moved to Minneapolis / St. Paul at the age of four, he grew up in a tricky household with sounds which would make a child cringe. Drowning out the sounds of his dysfunctional home with the Fugees record on loop, he would imagine being anywhere else, and would draw maps to help deal with his stress. In turn, has helped him gear his emotional hip-hop sound to a sort of “sonic solace” for his listeners.

Dem Atlas @ 1st Ave
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Photo: Travis Meier, Dem Atlas, 1st Avenue, Shadows On The Sun Tour

After Dem Atlas completed his set, the stage was set for the powerful, risk-taking, inspirational, and sometimes lucky MC: Ali Douglas Newman, better known as Brother Ali. Born in Madison, WI in 1977, he was born with albinism, which causes partial blindness and absence of pigments. He moved to Minneapolis in 1992. The disorder did not stop him from falling in love with words, and he started beatboxing at seven and rapping by eight.

Brother Ali 1st Ave
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Photo: Travis Meier, Brother Ali, 1st Avenue, Shadows On The Sun Tour

In 2000, he released his first album followed by the release of Shadows On The Sun in 2003, which is being celebrated with a 15-year anniversary tour. He took the time to pay tribute to where he started by rapping the whole album from cover to cover and pausing to take a moment to make sure the crowd is loving the experience and having fun by having them reply “Yes I am/do.”

In true Ali fashion, he turned a rap show into a dynamic performance by combining hip-hop, philosophy, and history into a positive movement for a change.

It is pretty incredible to think this is the same guy who has been trapped in an Iranian airport, had his money frozen by the feds, and accidentally kicked Justin Timberlake off stage. None the less, those are humorous and inspirational stories within themselves which carry empowering messages.

Brother Ali @ 1st Ave
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Photo: Travis Meier, Brother Ali, 1st Avenue, Shadows On The Sun Tour

Forgetfulness can be damaging and have lasting effects, but that’s why it’s important to remember moments. It helps us bridge our past to our future and fuel our inspiration and desire for all to admire.

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