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The truth hurts: Brother Ali should try his hand at failure 

Wednesday, Mar 5 2008

Reaching the age of 15 is such a mammoth achievement in clubland that local promoters Spundae are planning two nights of festivities to celebrate. Spundae has championed the full spectrum of dance music, from house to drum 'n' bass. Thanks to occasional parties in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Miami, it's also one of San Francisco's strongest national brands in the promotions arena. U.K. breakbeat and house DJ James Zabiela appears as a special guest at Spundae's 15-year anniversary on Thursday, March 6, while homegrown talents Gabriel and Dresden headline on Friday, March 7. Both shows are at Ruby Skye at 9 p.m. Admission is $15-$20; call 693-0777 or visit for more info. — Tamara Palmer

It's a slight understatement to say Harlem rapper Immortal Technique subscribes to the "If you're not mad, you're not paying attention" doctrine. The street-hustling savant claimed his place alongside politico-rappers Mr. Lif and Dead Prez with the hard-as-hell 2001 disc Revolutionary Vol. 1, followed two years later by Vol. 2. Fond of slapping suckas with counterreadings of Latin American history and reworded Marxism, the Afro-Peruvian emcee proved that knowledge in the rap game comes from a place more substantial than a dog-eared rhyming dictionary. But after four years of little more than cameos, what gives? Since 2005, Immortal Technique has promised the third installment of the Revolutionary series, plus a collaboration with DJ Green Lantern. Will good faith alone pack a show? Find out Sunday, March 9, at the Fillmore at 7 p.m. Admission is $22.50; call 346-6000 or visit for more info. — Peter Madsen

Brother Ali is big on truth of the capital-T variety. On his 2003 album, Shadows on the Sun, the rapper introduced himself as the striving everyman, a hero to the downtrodden-but-not-trampled. On that and subsequent discs -— especially last year's The Undisputed Truth — the mechanics of his storytelling put him in a place of moral triumph, whether confronting a wife-beating neighbor or detailing his recent divorce. If the rapper takes one on the chin, it's a matter of principle. But the incessant posturing leads listeners to wonder if Ali ever bleeds. His victories are nonetheless compelling, particularly when coupled with producer Ant's crackling soul and reggae samples; but for his inability to fail like the rest of us, Ali's hip-hop would be damn near perfect. Brother Ali performs with guests Abstract Rude, Toki Wright, and BK-One on Wednesday, March 12, at Slim's at 8 p.m. Admission is $15; call 255-0333 or visit for more info. — P.M.

About The Authors

Peter Madsen


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