Last week, while Sasha Frere-Jones and the rap duo Das Racist debated whether Jay-Z’s new album is evidence that hip-hop is dead, and if so, whether it’s OK for a white guy like Frere-Jones to make that call, Minnesota’s Brother Ali was proving, one wildly heralded tour stop at a time, that such discussions are best answered in rhyme. Previous records saw Ali fuming over categorization–his refusal to identify his race when he first broke on the scene led listeners to believe he was black, causing an uproar when he was revealed to be white (not to mention albino and Muslim)—but on the recently released Us, Ali has resolved the conflict. As he raps on the title track, “I started rhyming just to be somebody/To make people notice me at the party/And not just be the new kid that’s albino/Make ’em say yeah, I know/But have you heard him rhyme, though?” Jay-Z may be tired, but Ali is proof that hip-hop ain’t nowhere near dead.
BROTHER ALI PERFORMS AT 9 P.M. WITH EVIDENCE, TOKI WRIGHT, BK ONE, AND CUBBIE BEAR AT OTTO BAR, 2549 N. HOWARD ST., BALTIMORE. $13. (410) 662-0069.