Brother Ali, a prominent artist in today’s independent hip hop scene, performed at Colgate to an enthusiastic, but undersized, audience in the Hall of Presidents last Wednesday. Colgate was one of the many stops on Brother Ali’s current tour to promote his new album, Us, a politically and emotionally infused album that is sure to make him one of the stand-out names in modern hip hop music. He explores everything from drug abuse to homophobia, while still creating catchy and unique beats. Ali is continuing his tour in London, Berlin, Paris and Stockholm over the next week before returning to promote his album across the United States.
Colgate’s Student Committee on Providing Entertainment (SCOPE), an organization that seeks to provide free concerts for students, brought Brother Ali here as part of their continued effort to broaden the musical variety on campus. SCOPE works to bring artists from a multitude of different genres, the vast majority of which belong to independent record labels.
“For me, the most gratifying aspect of bringing performers to Colgate is seeing the crowd’s enjoyment during the set. As all SCOPE members are huge live music fans, it is extremely fun to bring artists to campus who we want to see perform. Watching the whole process come to fruition is extremely rewarding,” SCOPE leader senior Jake Epstein said.
SCOPE member sophomore Max Lowenthal was the primary organizer of the event and put countless hours into the planning and execution of Brother Ali’s performance.
“We chose Brother Ali because we feel he is a true representation of what good hip hop is today. His music is not commercial and conveys a positive message about life and overcoming the obstacles it throws at you. He also is about to release a new album later this month, so we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to have him perform at Colgate,” Lowenthal said.
Colgate’s own Swagged Up Squad and Fourté opened for Brother Ali at the concert, but the lengthy break between the opening bands and Ali’s performance caused many people to leave the show early.
“It’s always enjoyable to see Colgate representing through Swagged Up Squad and Fourté, but unfortunately because of time constraints I wasn’t actually able to hear Brother Ali perform,” sophomore Fatima Sowe said.
For the majority of the show, the Hall of Presidents was empty. Granted, the performance was on a Wednesday night, which can often interfere with club meetings and homework, but to have so few students present at the event was clearly a disappointment for the organizers.
“I could not have been more impressed by the professionalism of Brother Ali, as well as his amazing talent,” Lowenthal commented. “His show was filled with emotion and energy, and he gave a sampling of many of the tracks that will be on his new album. As for the attendance, I was incredibly disappointed, though not entirely surprised, by the poor showing of students. It’s extremely difficult to get Colgate students to come see a concert of an artist they have never heard of, or that they do not listen to every time they go out at night.”
First-year Carter Cooper has been an avid fan of Brother Ali for the past year, and was extremely enthusiastic about the show, despite its poor attendance.
“He definitely made the most of it; the under crowded audience didn’t even seem to faze him,” Cooper said. “Plus, I love the fact that he’s not your typical rapper. He’s not black and he doesn’t rap about money. He’s got a really different perspective.”
Cooper even got the opportunity to meet her rap idol, and left with a personalized note from Brother Ali and his signature. “It was so surreal,” Cooper said. “You don’t meet someone you listen to on iTunes every day.”
First-year Jamp Polhemus actually seemed to enjoy the fact that the audience was smaller than expected. “He used it as an opportunity to speak more personally to the audience. It was very intimate. He seemed to have a message – he rapped about things like peace,” Polhemus said.
Even with the poor attendance, Ali was still able to connect with the audience. He was able to almost have a conversation with the crowd. The most impressive part of the concert was the fact that Brother Ali didn’t let the meager crowd affect his performance – he was energetic and animated throughout the entire show.
“He definitely made it work,” Polhemus said.
All-in-all Brother Ali put on a fantastic show and those present in the audience got a very personalized performance. For those who missed out, SCOPE is planning to bring artist Mt. Erie to Donovan’s Pub in mid-October and is in the midst of finalizing shows for November and for second semester.