If a picture is worth a thousand words then a couple hundred thousand things were said through the camera flashes the moment Brother Ali hit the stage. This compelling man commanded attention, not with yelling or an aggressive nature, but quite the opposite. He naturally draws you to lend an ear by his gentle, steady tone. Like a flock gazing at their sheperd, the crowd eagerly absorbs every word Ali preaches. Streaming down his face are a combination of sweat and tears for the passion he never holds back. He seamlessly moves the energy in the room from hyphy hip hop to solemn silence without ever raising a question of what he is doing. It is apparent that The Truth Is Here (as he first announced on his Undisputed Champion album). He brought together a diverse crowd of backpackers, fellow Muslim followers, parents with toddlers, and even a couple older folks who used their canes to walk right up into the congregation’s circus.
There was a very heartfelt moment when Ali described getting the phone call from Eyedea’s mother and the events that followed after the legendary Rhymesayers’ emcee’s untimely death. The room went from excited yells to a moment of silence almost instantly. The room that once boomed with the bass of his voice over ours quickly turned so quiet you could hear a needle popping on an old vinyl. Everyone hung their heads and chills spread throughout the room. He invited us to the darkest places in his life but left us only with inspiration before we all parted ways. After he rocked his classic joint “Forest Whitaker”, he made his way to the merch booth to take the time to autograph items, shake hands and take pictures with every single fan who waited. Ali showed nothing but respect to these fans who showed the same. He is a living example of the Hendrix quote, “If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music. ”
Brother Ali changed everyone who entered that room in ways only they can share. This journalist included.