Brother Ali is sorta like a preacher. He laces his songs with uplifting messages, social commentary and tales of inner growth. And on his fourth album, Us, the 32-year-old Minneapolis MC totally embraces the role. “Street preacher is what a fan once called me,” he rhymes on the title track. “I been called worse and tried to live up”; the lyrics on the horn-heavy “Preacher” could easily be a sermon in a Sunday-morning mass. Brother Ali’s fiery, passionate delivery will have you yelling “amen.” Atmosphere’s Ant produced Us, and he touches up the beats with an array of live instruments, giving most of the tracks a bluesy vibe. Almost a decade after his indie-hip-hop debut, Brother Ali is still grounded and still champions the little guy. He never panders to the mainstream, but he’s not too avant-garde to pen a few catchy choruses. His latest incarnation as a preacher is most fitting: Fans take his word as gospel. Brother Ali leads the Fresh Air Tour with Evidence, Toki Wright & BK One, and Smokescreen. It comes to the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588, grogshop.gs) at 8 p.m. Tickets: $12 advance, $14 day of show. — Eddie Fleisher
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