Brother Ali / Blueprint / Toki Wright El Mocambo, Toronto ON October 13

In a rare occurrence for a hip-hop show in Toronto, headliner Brother Ali was on stage by midnight, but hopes for an early night were slowly dashed as the Rhymesayers rapper ran through a nearly 90-minute set. While Brother Ali could have stepped on stage even earlier, the crowd voted for an "extended party” with a DJ set of familiar breaks. The selections were superb, but it was a 28-minute letdown after the powerful, high-energy sets from fellow Minneapolis rappers Toki Wright and Blueprint — the former opening with possibly the best set of the night thanks to slamming beats and slick flows. It’s no wonder Ali advised the crowd, "If you buy only one CD tonight, make sure it’s Toki Wright’s.” Still, Brother Ali was the one to get the crowd most hyped with his appealing set of honest lyricism and crowd manipulation, although comparisons to KRS-One’s live show are greatly exaggerated. Ali’s set started off highly energetic but wore itself out by the end. However, it was a nice addition when he took requests from the crowd. And he must have been doing something right since most of the packed place screamed for an encore and then stayed for his two additional songs. While it all resulted in a good show, leaving out the mid-show DJ set would have made for a tighter, better flowing night.