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Brother Ali love fest

April 18, 2010

This post was written by Mishka Vertin, a new contributor to Minneapple in the Big Apple. Email me at minneapplenyc [at] gmail if you would like to contribute.

Photo: SMKjr/

Thursday night, Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory was one gigantic self-love fest. Not surprising, I suppose, given that the performer for the evening – hip hop artist and Minnesota native Brother Ali – has spent much of his life facing ridicule from his peers. No, not because he’s from Minnesota, people! Because his eclectic genetic and social makeup, which he rattled off onstage – Muslim, albino, legally blind and overweight – is not exactly the blueprint for coolness in Middle America.

Onstage, Ali (born Jason Newman) expressed dissatisfaction that his “strangeness” is always remarked upon in the first paragraph of any interview or review (and has I have done, again, here), and yet his songs seem to keep these differences at the forefront of his message. Throughout the hour-long performance Ali encouraged his fans to embrace their quirks in a way that was positive, if a bit elementary, and the crowd played along. “When you really find that true love, your third nipple is what that person is going to love about you!”

Ali played about a dozen songs from six albums he has released in the past decade, allowing for a short break to highlight the DJ stylings of BK-One, who has provided his beats for almost as long. The tightly-packed crowd collectively gyrated as Brother Ali capped the night off with the song “Fresh Air,” whose last line reiterated the general mood of the night: “I’m the luckiest son a’ bitch that ever lived.”

Photo: SMKjr/

Photo: SMKjr/

Photo: SMKjr/

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