Brookline Stand Up

Meet The Preacher
April 17, 2010, 2:10 pm
Filed under: Brother Ali, Concerts, Unsolicited Advice

A few months ago, I was lamenting to my friend Frank about how I hadn’t been to a good concert in such a long time. The last few shows I had attended had been either unpleasant in some way (aka the Weezy no-show) or flat out disasters (trust me, you don’t wanna know.) After this series of fails, I had lost all desire to ever see a live show again. Frank offered me a solution in the form of Brother Ali.

At first I was unsure. Everything about him just seemed so random. From Minneapolis? Random. Legally blind? Even more random. Albino? Ok, I think you get the idea. But as Frank began to send me some tracks, I started to warm up to the idea and we got tickets to see him perform at the Paradise along with the up-and-coming Toki Wright and Evidence (1/3 of hip-hop group Dilated Peoples.)

Hands down one of the best hip-hop concerts I’ve ever been to. Part of it had to do with the show being in a muchsmaller venue than I’m used to. The Paradise makes for a very intimate setting – the performers were literally sweating all over us. But most of it was because of the raw talent Brother Ali brought to the stage. Honestly, I could go on and on about how great he was, but this isn’t a concert review. This post is all about telling you to go listen to him. Immediately. I promise you will like him.

Though I enjoy my fair share of rap songs about bling, poppin’ bottles and big rims, Brother Ali’s inspiring and powerful lyrics are refreshing. There is an air of intelligence to his words, as opposed to lines like “Dear Mr. Toilet, I’m the shit.” (Sorry to throw you under the bus there, Weezy.) Anyways, I really could go on and on, but you probably should just hear for yourself.

Below are a couple of my favorite Brother Ali tracks based on my very limited collection. Please feel free to contribute.

1. Puzzle

2. Freedom Ain’t Free

3. Uncle Sam Goddamn *If you couldn’t tell from the title, this song harbors some pretty intense anti-American sentiment. In fact, as a result, Verizon Wireless withdrew their sponsorship of Ali after he refused to change the lyrics. Regardless of the controversy, this is just a flatout good song. I love its gritty, bluesy feel.

So, let me know what you think of Brother Ali, contribute any Ali tracks you feel I missed, and seriously, if you hear he’s coming to your town, get tickets. He is ridiculous live and you will become an instant fan. Mark my words.


Remember That Time Snoop Dogg Was Gangsta?
April 12, 2010, 8:48 pm
Filed under: Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Unsolicited Advice

I don’t know how many of you have checked out Snoop Dogg’s latest album Malice N Wonderland (2009), but for those of you that haven’t, I’ll save you some time. It sucks. Other than the fact that he sniped the album title I had waiting in the wings just in case I ever became a female rapper (my name is Alice FYI), this album just makes me sad. Poor little Snoop just sounds bored and tired, a far cry from his early days as a straight up G repping the West Coast.

The album was so bad, in fact, that I had to listen to my vast collection of vintage Snoop for about an hour to get the bad taste out of my mouth. Immersed in classics such as Gin & JuiceWhat’s My Name and Serial Killa off his debut album Doggystyle (1993), I began to reflect on Snoop Dizzle’s career and where he’s ended up.

Discovered in 1992 by Dr. Dre right after Snoop’s release from a 3-year stint in prison for cocaine possession, his laid-back style and unparalleled flow catapulted his debut album Doggystyle to quadruple-platinum status and sealed his fate as a rap legend. Since then, he has been accused (and subsequently acquitted) of murder, released 9  additional albums and been credited with the practice of adding the suffix -izzle to just about every word in the English language.

So, he’s an accomplished guy and probably has enough money to last him and his family a couple of lifetimes. The sad part is that instead of retiring and letting his existing collection of work speak for itself, he keeps DOING things. Take his E! reality show Snoop Dogg’s Father Hood, for example. I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t want to see Snoop acting like a responsible dad much less a normal person. I prefer to think of him as the gat-toting, crip-walking G from back in the day. His BAMF persona is part of what gave his music so much appeal. Even his pre-reality-show-hoopla album Paid Tha Cost To Be Da Boss (2002) still has some badass flavor. In fact, one of my all-time favorite Snoop Dogg tracks “Paper’d Up” is off that album. Listen to it below.

See what I mean? Not only does Snoop Dogg sound AWAKE, but the beat is so sick that he even lets it stand alone (plus some DJ scratches and that random girl moaning in the background) for a full 20 seconds. Compare this to the popular single “Sexual Eruption” off his 2008 album Ego Trippin’.

Auto-tune much? If T-Pain or Chris Brown had released this song, I would totally love it, but it’s Snoop. I don’t want to hear you sing, Dizzle. Thankfully, Malice N Wonderland isn’t saturated with auto-tune tracks, but it’s just missing that kick that most other Snoop albums have. Even the songs that I semi-liked (“Upside Down” and “Gangsta Luv“) were so boring that I had to stop listening halfway through.

In my opinion, Snoop Dogg should either get back in touch with his old school roots or sit back and reap the benefits of his successful career. Check out Malice N Wonderland and let me know know if you agree.

Where Does He Get the Clout?
March 24, 2010, 10:10 am
Filed under: Concerts, Haterade, Lil Wayne, Original Wanksta, Sam Adams, Unsolicited Advice

Okay, so it’s not Sunday. My bad. I had every intention of having my concert reviews posted way before now, but the weather this weekend was just too gorgeous to be spent in front a computer, and come Monday I was smacked in the face with work. So for all of you that I’m sure were just DYING to know how Sam Adams and Kid Cudi were this weekend, I apologize for making you wait.

That being said, let’s talk a little bit about Mr. Sammy Adams. On Friday night, I headed over to Harper’s Ferry in Allston with a couple of friends to see the Cambridge-born rapper perform live. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a “meh” reaction to Adams’ recently released EP Boston’s Boy and was hoping that this show would give me a solid opinion of him. Mission accomplished.

I hate to be a negative Nancy, so I’ll start off with the positives. First of all, I think that Adams has a great stage presence. He certainly knows how to get a crowd going – for such a small venue I was impressed with how the place erupted when he first ran out on stage and opened with his track “Swang.” Below is a video of him standing backstage getting ready to come out (I’m not creepy we were just standing right by the stage door) and the first minute or so of “Swang.”

See what I mean? Talent-wise he has a lot of potential. Though his EP consists mainly of upbeat tracks that talk about “poppin’ bottles” and “chillin’ with a couple twelves,” I think Adams could hold his own with the big kahunas of party anthems.

That statement comes with a HUGE caveat, though. I had three major problems with this show, and they all have to do with knowing his place as a newcomer to hip hop and appreciating his fans (Weezy, you should probably listen in on this one too).

1. He took forever to come on. The concert was scheduled to start at 8. In the interest of avoiding the inevitable crappy opening act, my friend called ahead to see when Adams would actually be starting his set. We were told 11 pm…yikes. So, we took our sweet time and got to Harper’s Ferry around 11:15, no dice. We were right about the crappy opening act, by the way. To make a long story short, Adams didn’t come on stage until 12:30. Twelve. Thirty. An hour and a half late? Or I guess four and a half hours late, technically. What were you doing back there, Sammy?

2. 25 minute set? Really? I’m not kidding. After getting over my frustration of waiting an hour and a half for Sam to come on, I was finally starting to get into the performance and began to revise the pissed-off review I was already drafting in my head…and then he went off-stage. At first we thought maybe it was just some sort of intermission, but as people started to filter out, we realized that was it. That was the show. To be fair, I realize that he’s new and probably doesn’t have enough material to put on a full-blown concert. I mean, his EP was only eight songs after all. But come on, I paid 14 bucks for this (which is the equivalent of like 50 bucks to a broke college student) – couldn’t he have at least been scribbling down a song or something while we waited an hour and a half for him?

3. There were a bajillion people on stage. This one isn’t quite as big of a deal, but still bugged me. I’ve been to many a rap concert in my day. For some reason, rappers feel that they need to have their posse or whatever roaming around on-stage with microphones and intermittently joining in on the performance. I’ve questioned it, never understood it, but accepted it. But Harper’s Ferry is a very small venue, and as an up-and-coming artist I think Sam needs to keep his onstage posse to a minimum and have the focus be on him. Maybe I’m the only person that was bothered by that, but you can look at the picture below and judge for yourself.

Whoa, right? It’s like playing Where’s Waldo trying to find Sammy somewhere in there. So, while I honestly think that this kid has a lot of potential, he really needs to check his ego at the door and remember that he doesn’t yet have the clout to keep his fans waiting. Loyal fans are the key to his ultimate success, after all. To sum up, in the words of my dear friend and fellow concert-goer Leslie, “Get back to me when you’re a little more famous, Sammy.”

Check out my YouTube account for his performances of SwangI Hate College RemixDriving Me CrazyPoker Face Remix and Tab Open. What do you think of his music/stage presence? Does his talent match his swagger?