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: