Brother Ali

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About Brother Ali

Social activist and rapper Brother Ali’s lyrics are deeply rooted in the human condition. Born Jason Newman in Minneapolis in 1977, he grew up feeling—as a white kid with albinism—a kinship with Black culture, perhaps due to shared outsider experience. He fell in love with hip-hop during childhood, starting out as a breakdancer before deciding on rapping a few years later. After converting to Islam as a teenager, Newman adopted a moniker inspired by Muhammad Ali. Since his 2000 debut album, Rites of Passage, (the first of many released through indie label Rhymesayers), Brother Ali has had a sharp eye for societal ills—his Nina Simone-referencing single “Uncle Sam Goddamn,” from 2007’s The Undisputed Truth, is a scathing critique of corporate America’s dehumanizing practices. He’s equally effective when he turns the mirror to himself on tracks like “Forest Whitiker,” a song from 2003’s Shadows on the Sun that details his experience of living with albinism. Throughout his catalog, Brother Ali educates, uplifts, and critiques with an authoritative delivery complemented by the grit and soulfulness of the boom-bap production he favors.

Madison, WI, United States
July 30, 1977

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