By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
Hey, who's that hefty, hoodied albino shuffling onto the stage an hour before Atmosphere? That would be Brother Ali, the Muslim, Minneapolis-based Rhymesayers star who mines his attention-grabbing anomalies for a fresh, soulful slant on underground hip-hop.
His 2003 release, Shadows on the Sun, is evidence of the depth and breadth of Ali's characters. Aided by the rock-solid Ant, Atmosphere's reclusive producer, first Brother Ali is a fevered observer ("Room With a View"), then a boastful warrior ("Champion"), a suitor turned stalker ("Prince Charming"), a humble warrior ("Win Some Lose Some"), an avenging spirit ("Pay Them Back") and then finally a disciple of an unlikely teacher ("Forest Whitaker"). Most indelible is "Dorian," detailing a reluctant face-off with a domestic villain. After witty narration of the brawl—"It seemed that he invited my right fist to a party on his left cheek/I didn't mean to seem rude so I accepted/But arrived half a second early"—things turn dark as the victimized woman calls the cops and they haul our hero away in cuffs.
With only an EP out since Shadows, it's high time Brother Ali spilled a sneak preview of his long-awaited follow-up, The Undisputed Truth. Know what? Something tells me it's gonna happen at this show.
Brother Ali with Atmosphere at Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 629-0377; www.theglasshouse.us. Tues., 7 p.m. $20-22. All ages.