I was originally going to start this post by saying “We’ve featured Brother Ali before…” NOT. That’s really a damn shame as GOOD as brother Ali is. Our man The Hip Hop Purist has been down for years and HE wrote a piece about the Brother before. But for some strange reason this is his first feature on Audio Sessions I guess that gives us a reason to go back and post his ealier albums. I mean its all new to you right?
Jason Newman better known by the stage name Brother Ali was born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1977, and spent his early childhood moving from city to city in the Midwest (mostly in Michigan). Ali’s family settled in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1992. It was in Minneapolis that Ali converted to Islam and was given the name Ali. He has a son, Faheem, from his first marriage, and remarried in 2008.
Ali was born with the rare genetic condition of albinism, a disorder characterized by a lack of pigment in skin, eyes, and hair. Brother Ali often makes fun of the media’s constant urge to mention his condition in the first lines of their reviews or newspaper articles.
While Brother Ali’s family is white, he has often described a childhood marked by cruelty and exclusion by his white classmates as a result of his physical abnormality. He’s often explained that, from an early age, he felt “most at home amongst African Americans.”
When Ali’s career began to blossom, he began to field questions about his race. Due to his stage name (a common reference among religious communities, particularly Muslims), many writers assumed Ali was black. When questioned on the subject, Ali declined to comment. In hindsight Ali regards this early decision as a mistake. It was wrongly reported that Ali was black.
In 2003 Brother Ali released his first studio project titled “Shadows On The Sun.” Although the album had no major national distribution, “Shadows” was heavily praised by independent hip hop fans and publications. Ali used the album to explain his childhood and identity.
In September 2009, Brother Ali dropped his current release. The album was originally titled “Street Preacher” but later changed to “Us.” It debuted at #56 on Billboard’s Top 100. Ali is currently on tour to support this album.
As always, these are not the complete songs, just 90-second clips to give you a feel for the music. If you like what you hear, buy the CD. We’ve gotta support if we want real hip hop to flourish.