On September 30, 2012, Brother Ali
took the stage at The Annex Wreckroom in Toronto but he wasn't the only undeniably talented MC on tour that night. Ali is being accompanied on the Mourning in America, Dreaming in Color
tour by a hip hop group, a husband and wife, who go by the name The Reminders as well as an artist from the Stones Throw record label-- Homeboy Sandman.
I had a chance to speak with Sandman both after the show in Toronto and for an interview a couple of weeks later while he had a day off before the Iowa City performance on October 9th.
"Right now I am in the hotel room in Minneapolis. I am enjoying my day off; I'm laying down, responding to emails. I'm listening to beats and getting some R&R," Homeboy Sandman describes his day off as a relaxing one with some much needed down time although the tour isn't what one might stereotypically expect a hip hop tour to be like in between shows.
"It's kind of a laid back tour from a stand point. None of us are heavy into drinking, heavy into smoking and the crazy partying. It's not a wild, crazy, destroy-the-hotel-room tour. We all focus. You know, the whole thing is dope," Sandman explains.
Another quality about the Mourning in America, Dreaming in Color
tour that Sandman notes is the audience that he has the opportunity to perform for.
"The audience was sensational man. The audience was fantastic," Sandman describes the supporters who showed up to the Toronto show. "The show in Toronto started off on an interesting foot because I had to do a sound check before the show even started but the crowd was real forgiving man. You know, as soon as I got to the set, the energy was fantastic. I could tell that the listeners were listening to the words. They were there to see Brother Ali. A lot of people were very unfamiliar with me."
Although the audience may have been more familiar with Brother Ali than Sandman there was no bias when it came down to quality of music and the appreciation of the art of hip hop.
"It's really magnificent. The type of artist that Ali is really translates into his fan base. His club isn't a B.S. club because he isn't a B.S. MC. This is the type of crowd that I want to go in front of. I want to go in front of all crowds but those are the types of crowds that I have always wanted to go in front of."
Ali Newman, better known by his stage name Brother Ali, is an American hip hop artist signed to Rhymesayers Entertainment. | Photo: Archives |
Sandman says that he learns something new from Brother Ali every day, such as crowd control, as Ali has been on tour for most of the past 10 years.
Before immersing himself into the ever-changing world of hip hop, Sandman was a high school teacher in New York. He emphasizes the importance of trying new things in life until you get to a place where you are happy with what you do.
"I never knew I wanted to go into music, honestly. I was a music fan. I always loved music and always kind of had an aptitude for it. Teaching was one of the things I did before I realized that my passion and my drive came from making music. I really enjoyed my time teaching. I still take any opportunity I get to go in front of young people, to go in classrooms and speak for young people. But, I always knew that it wasn't what I was going to do for the rest of my life. It is one of many many things that I kind of did while I was trying to figure out what I really wanted to do. It wasn't really a transition though. My whole life was one thing after another. It was like, you know, moving through the different things. You know, trying not to waste too much time but once I realized music was where my head was really at, I just had to focus on that."
Sandman tells a story about the era of music that we are currently in. Sandman was at a show in New York near his home, holding a Brother Ali program in his hand. Someone approached Sandman and asked "who is that?" on the cover of the program. The proceeding question was "is he famous?" To Sandman, it seems as though music listeners these days are more concerned with fame before they take the time to listen to the music and judge whether they like it or not.
"This is illustrative of the era that we are living in. It feels good to get in front of crowds that are less concerned with popularity and more concerned with capabilities," Sandman says.