On Saturday night, rapper and producer Brother Ali brings his brand of politically cerebral hip-hop to Vinyl at the Hard Rock Lake Tahoe. Brother Ali, in the middle of his national Own Light Tour, walks in the steps of rappers such as KRS-One and Chuck D of Public Enemy in framing his lyrics around both protest and uncertainty of social issues.
Brother Ali performed nonstop since May, when his tour came to major cities. He played festivals in the summer and now is putting on shows in smaller, more intimate venues. In a conversation with Tahoe Onstage, he called the concerts “healing gatherings.”
“The spirit with which we have the songs is intimate and it really is a one-on-one conversation between hearts. When people come to the shows, it allows us to lean into the vulnerability and fear and pain and joy and celebration that bind people together.”
Musically, Ali plays over beats and loops that can incorporate jazz, classic rock, or electronic elements and lay a diverse groundwork on which his rhymes meander, touching on subject matter ranging from race issues, militarization of police and oppression of poor and communities of color.
Brother Ali is touring in support of 2017’s All The Beauty In This Whole Life, his sixth album, the fifth produced by Atmosphere’s Anthony “Ant” Davis.
“We are very dear friends have known each other many years,” Brother Ali said. “He and I have an agreement that we would like to make music that just reveals who we are as honestly as possible without pretense or filters and so that’s the agreement that we entered the creative space with.”
Opening the show at Hard Rock will be Washington, D.C.’s Sa-Roc, whose vinegar-infused delivery also treads on lyrics dealing with current social issues. Last Word from Minneapolis, and Sol Messiah round out the lineup.
“Sa-Roc is an incredible amazing artist and she’s been stealing the show every night which is exactly why we were invited her,” Brother Ali said. “It’s also a really human thing for us to see a powerful woman onstage and to have her voice and her energy set the tone for the night.”
Tickets for Saturday’s 9 p.m. show are $20 and upgraded VIP packages, including meet and greets, are available.
-Shaun Astor contributed to this story.