Wednesday, December 12, 2012

You Ain't Gotta Love Me

(Hang with me on this rash of retro-posts a bit longer, if you would. I'm trying to get some stuff out so I can have the memories recorded and then start fresh and current in the new year :>)

Back in October I went to a Brother Ali concert. My first Brother Ali concert. I knew it would be a really special thing for me and it was. It you haven't heard of him, that's no surprise - he's an indie rapper from Minnesota, and he's got an interesting story, part of which is that he's legally blind, has albinism, and is a practicing Muslim.

I know that rap music is scary and Islam is double scary. I used to not like it at all. (Rap music, that is. I was pretty neutral on Islam.) I think that one thing I love about conscious rap and Brother Ali in particular is that it's not what you think it is. (I'm crazy about books that just refuse to be judged by their covers.) In between the crazy beats at his shows, he talks to these young kiddos in attendance - all acned and confused and making poor fashion choices - about self-love and respect and how you've got to keep going despite hard life can be. Really? May I have seconds, please? At one point he had everyone chant "Love!" and then "Peace!" I was looking around thinking: this music is probably the most supportive thing a lot of these kids have going.

How he can be so positive without being corny is impressive. There are plenty of swears, and he describes a lot of his very difficult life in his songs, which is very real and not happy at all. But if you had to say he had a message, it might be non-violent response to the shitty things in life. I know. This isn't your older brother's rap. Less bitches and ho's. More self-acceptance, perseverance, an understanding of the need to wake up and think critically. It's so encouraging to me. I love it.

This one is my favorites:

And yo whatever comes up comes out
We don't put our hands over our mouth
And whatever comes up comes out
We don't put our hands over our mouth
Whatever comes up comes out
Please mister bass-man lay it on me

Ayo, Dependin on the day, and dependin on what I ate
I'm anywhere from 20 to 35 pounds over weight
I got red eyes and one of them's lazy
and they both squint when the sun shines so I get crazy
I'm albino man, I know I'm pink and pale
And I'm hairy as hell, everywhere but fingernails
I shave a cranium that ain't quite shaped right
Face tight, shiny, I stay up and write late nights
My wardrobe is jeans and faded shirts
A mixture of what I like, and what I wear to work
I'm not mean and got a neck full of razor bumps
I'm not the classic profile of what the ladies want
You might think I'm depressed as can be
But when I look in the mirror I see sexy ass me
And if that's somethin that you cant respect then that's peace
My life's better without you actually
To everyone out there, who's a little different
I say damn a magazine, these are gods fingerprints
You can call me ugly but cant take nothing from me
I am what I am doctor you ain't gotta love me

If you would please turn in your bible
To beauty tips according to Forest Whitiker
In the third chapter of the third line
Brother Ali would you please read to the choir for me son

[Sung x3]
I'ma be all right, you ain't gotta be my friend tonight (you ain't gotta love me)
An I'ma be okay, you would probably bore me anyway (you ain't gotta love me)

Forest Whitiker y'all


  1. I know, isn't it great?! I like, "But when I look in the mirror I see sexy ass me"


  2. Oh. My. Gosh. Don't you dare get me hooked on rap music. I love that!!!!!!!!!