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Brother Ali

Brother Ali

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Ali Newman better known by the stage name
Stage name
A stage name, also called a showbiz name or screen name, is a pseudonym used by performers and entertainers such as actors, wrestlers, comedians, and musicians.-Motivation to use a stage name:...

 Brother Ali, is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 hip hop
Hip hop music
Hip hop music, also called hip-hop, rap music or hip-hop music, is a musical genre consisting of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted...

 artist signed to Rhymesayers Entertainment
Rhymesayers Entertainment
Rhymesayers Entertainment is an independent hip hop record label based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, co-founded in 1995 by Sean Daley, Anthony Davis, Brent Sayers and Musab Saad....

.

Personal life


Brother Ali was born in Madison, Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin
Madison is the capital of the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the county seat of Dane County. It is also home to the University of Wisconsin–Madison....

, and spent his early childhood moving from city to city in the Midwest (mostly in Michigan). Ali's family settled in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis , nicknamed "City of Lakes" and the "Mill City," is the county seat of Hennepin County, the largest city in the U.S. state of Minnesota, and the 48th largest in the United States...

, in 1992. He attended Robbinsdale Cooper High School
Robbinsdale Cooper High School
Robbinsdale Cooper High School is a public secondary school located in New Hope, Minnesota, a northwest suburb of Minneapolis...

 in New Hope, Minnesota
New Hope, Minnesota
As of the census of 2000, there were 20,873 people, 8,665 households, and 5,268 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,098.6 people per square mile . There were 8,746 housing units at an average density of 1,717.4 per square mile...

. It was in Minneapolis that Ali converted to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 and was given the name Ali. He has a son, Faheem, from his first marriage, and remarried in 2008. On the song "Real As Can Be" off his [EP] "Truth is Here" he says he also has a daughter on the way. According to the song "Fresh Air" on his September 2009 album Us, he goes on to say "Just got married last year/ treated so good that it ain't even fair/ already gotta boy now the baby girl's here/ Bought us a house like The Berenstein Bears." He has family in the Minneapolis area. Brother Ali takes family very seriously and sees it as a major part of life.

Ali was born with the rare genetic condition of albinism
Albinism
Albinism is a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes due to absence or defect of an enzyme involved in the production of melanin...

, 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. He is also legally blind.

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 however stating in his album, "The Undisputed Truth"; "they ask me if I'm black or white, I'm neither/ race is a made up thing; I don't believe in it". He then goes on to explain how black people have played a major role in his life:

"My genes tie me to those that despised me/
Made a living killing the ones that inspired me/
I ain't just talking about singing and dancing/
I was taught life and manhood by black men/
So I'm a product of that understanding/
And a small part of me feels like I am them"

He has been practicing Islam for the past 13 years.

Career


Ali's first release was a cassette-only demo tape called Rites of Passage; which Ali produced, recorded and arranged himself. The tape cemented his relationship with the local independent
Independent record label
An independent record label is a record label operating without the funding of or outside the organizations of the major record labels. A great number of bands and musical acts begin on independent labels.-Overview:...

 hip-hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment
Rhymesayers Entertainment
Rhymesayers Entertainment is an independent hip hop record label based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, co-founded in 1995 by Sean Daley, Anthony Davis, Brent Sayers and Musab Saad....

. Rites of Passage
Rites of Passage (Brother Ali album)
Rites of Passage is the first album by American hip hop artist Brother Ali. It was released on Rhymesayers Entertainment on April 1, 2000. It is a cassette-only album produced by Brother Ali with very small original circulation. It has been re-issued following Ali's very successful later albums...

was released in 2000 and was sold almost exclusively at shows.

In 2003 Brother Ali released his first studio project, entitled Shadows on the Sun
Shadows on the Sun (album)
Shadows on the Sun is the second studio album by American rapper Brother Ali. It was released on May 2, 2003 on Rhymesayers Entertainment. It was produced entirely by Ant of Atmosphere...

. Atmosphere producer, Ant
Ant (producer)
Ant is a hip hop producer whose full name is Anthony Davis.He is best known as being one half of the hip hop group Atmosphere, but has worked with many other artists and projects, mostly with Rhymesayers Entertainment, such as Brother Ali, I Self Devine, Felt and The Dynospectrum...

, provided all of the instrumentals. Although the album had no major national distribution, it was heavily praised by independent hip-hop fans and publications. Ali used the album to explain his childhood and identity.

Ali's next CD was The Champion EP, released a year after Shadows on the Sun. It was presented as an extension of the full-length. Leading with a reggae inspired remix of Shadows' "Champion," the 9 song EP offered up highlights such as "Rain Water," a song about Ali losing his mother and grandfather to cancer and suicide.

In spring of 2007 Rhymesayers released The Undisputed Truth, Ali and Ant's full-length follow-up to Shadows on the Sun. "Truth" tells the story of Ali's divorce from his first wife, his struggle to gain custody of their young son, Faheem and the homelessness he faced as a single father. The first of his releases to be distributed by Warner Brothers Music, the album debuted at #69 on Billboard 200.

Brother Ali released an EP and DVD package titled "The Truth Is Here
The Truth Is Here
The Truth Is Here is an EP by Rhymesayers MC Brother Ali.The song "Good Lord" had a promotional video. The record contains nine songs which were previously unreleased.The CD was also sold with a DVD filled with interviews, music videos, and a full-length live performance from his The Undisputed...

" in March 2009. The album is made up of 9 tracks including a collaboration with Rhymesayers label-mate Slug
Slug (rapper)
Sean Michael Daley, better known by his stage name Slug or "'Sep Seven'", is an American rapper. He is from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Slug is best known as one fourth of the hip hop group Atmosphere, which he founded with Derek Turner...

 of Atmosphere
Atmosphere (music group)
Atmosphere is an American hip hop group from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The group is composed of rapper Slug and DJ/Producer Ant...

.

In September 2009, Brother Ali released his follow-up to 2007's Undisputed Truth. The album was originally titled "Street Preacher" but was later changed to Us
Us (Brother Ali album)
Us is the fourth studio album by American hip hop artist Brother Ali. It was released on September 22, 2009 on Rhymesayers Entertainment. The album is produced entirely by Ant of Atmosphere. It debuted on 56 at Billboard 200 with 8,000 copies sold...

. It debuted at #56 on the Billboard 200. Ali, his DJ BK-One, and fellow Rhymesayers crew members Toki Wright and Evidence recently finished their Fresh Air Tour this fall.

Production


Brother Ali produced the tracks "The Feeling" and "Little Girl" on Rhymesayers artist Toki Wright's debut album, "A Different Mirror."

Press


Brother Ali has twice been featured in the hip-hop magazine The Source
The Source (magazine)
The Source is a United States-based, monthly full-color magazine covering hip-hop music, politics, and culture, founded in 1988. It is the world's second longest running rap periodical, behind United Kingdom-based publication Hip Hop Connection. The Source was founded as a newsletter in 1988...

, first in August 2007, when the "Hip Hop Quotable" was from a verse in "Uncle Sam Goddamn", and second in October 2007, when he was interviewed. In May 2007, he was featured in Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

as a "New Artist to Watch".

TV Appearances


On August 13, 2007, Brother Ali appeared on The Late Late Show
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson is a Peabody Award-winning American late-night talk show hosted by Scottish American comedian Craig Ferguson. Ferguson, the third regular host of the Late Late Show franchise, follows Late Show with David Letterman in the CBS late-night lineup...

and performed his single "Uncle Sam Goddamn" from The Undisputed Truth. On October 19, 2007, Ali appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien
Late Night with Conan O'Brien
Late Night with Conan O'Brien is an American late-night talk show hosted by Conan O'Brien that aired 2,725 episodes on NBC between 1993 and 2009. The show featured varied comedic material, celebrity interviews, and musical and comedy performances. Late Night aired weeknights at 12:37 am...

and performed "Take Me Home" from The Undisputed Truth. On December 16, 2009 Ali appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon is an American late-night talk show hosted by Jimmy Fallon on NBC. The show premiered on March 2, 2009, as the third incarnation of the Late Night franchise originated by David Letterman....

and was featured with late night band, The Roots
The Roots
The Roots is an American hip hop/neo soul band formed in 1987 by Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They are famed for beginning with a jazzy, eclectic approach to hip hop which still includes live instrumentals...

.

Inspirations


Brother Ali has said many times in interviews that he finds much of his inspiration in the early 1980s rappers of the golden age of hip hop, especially KRS-One
KRS-One
Lawrence Krisna Parker , better known by his stage names KRS-One , and Teacha, is an American rapper...

 and Rakim
Rakim
William Michael Griffin Jr. , known by his stage names Rakim , Rakim Allah, R.A.K.I.M., and The Master, is an American rapper. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential and most skilled emcees of all time. Eric B...

.

In an interview in early 2007, Ali responded to a question about the response to his and his label's music, and the current music industry:

They just like to see something new. Like, we benefit so much right now from the fact that music sucks, and that there's so little originality. And there's so few people that are really trying to do something a little bit different so that if you're just even a little bit different...you know what I mean? People are just like "yeah," you know. As long as you're good and as long as you know how to present yourself, and, you know...but I think that people are just happy to see something a little bit different for a change, you know.


He has, however, spoken against coastal beef
East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry
The East Coast–West Coast Hip Hop Rivalry was a feud in the 1990s between artists and fans of the Eastcoast and Westcoast hip-hop scenes. Seeming focal points of the feud were East Coast-based rapper The Notorious B.I.G...

 and mainstream vs. underground
Underground hip hop
Underground hip hop is an umbrella term for hip hop music outside the general commercial canon. It is typically associated with independent artists, signed toindependent labels or no label at all....

 divide in hip-hop, claiming that worthwhile rap music is made by many rappers from across the spectrum, and expressing fandom and appreciation for "mainstream" artists such as Jay-Z
Jay-Z
Shawn Corey Carter , better known by his stage name Jay-Z, is an American rapper, record producer, entrepreneur, and occasional actor. He is one of the most financially successful hip hop artists and entrepreneurs in America, having a net worth of over $450 million as of 2010...

, Rick Ross
Rick Ross (rapper)
William Leonard Roberts II , better known by his stage name Rick Ross, is an American rapper. He derived his stage name from the drug trafficker "Freeway" Ricky Ross, to whom he has no connection...

, Lil Wayne
Lil Wayne
Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. , better known by his stage name Lil Wayne, is an American rapper. At the age of nine, Lil Wayne joined Cash Money Records as the youngest member of the label, and half of the duo, The B.G.'z, with B.G.. In 1997, Lil Wayne joined the group Hot Boys, which also included...

, T.I.
T.I.
Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr. , better known by his stage name T.I., is an American rap artist, film and music producer, actor and author. He is also the founder and co-chief executive officer of Grand Hustle Records....

 and 50 Cent
50 Cent
Curtis James Jackson III , better known by his stage name 50 Cent, is an American rapper, entrepreneur, investor, record producer, and actor. He rose to fame with the release of his albums Get Rich or Die Tryin and The Massacre . Get Rich or Die Tryin has been certified eight times platinum by...

 as well as respected artists who are more associated with the underground or the purist tradition, such as Mos Def
Mos Def
Dante Terrell Smith is an American actor and Emcee known by the stage names Mos Def and Yasiin Bey. He started his hip hop career in a group called Urban Thermo Dynamics, after which he appeared on albums by Da Bush Babees and De La Soul. With Talib Kweli, he formed the duo Black Star, which...

, Talib Kweli
Talib Kweli
Talib Kweli Greene , better known as Talib Kweli, is an American hip-hop artist and poet from Brooklyn, New York. His first name in Arabic means "student" or "seeker" ; his in Swahili means "true"...

, Aesop Rock
Aesop Rock
Ian Matthias Bavitz , better known by his stage name Aesop Rock, is an American hip hop artist and producer. He was at the forefront of the new wave of underground and alternative hip hop acts that emerged during the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was signed to El-P's Definitive Jux label until it...

, Lupe Fiasco
Lupe Fiasco
Wasalu Muhammad Jaco , better known by his stage name Lupe Fiasco , is an American rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, Lupe is the CEO of 1st and 15th Entertainment. He rose to fame in 2006 following the success of his critically acclaimed debut album, Lupe Fiasco's Food...

, Jay Electronica
Jay Electronica
Timothy Elpadaro Thedford , better known by his stage name Jay Electronica, is an American hip hop recording artist and record producer...

, Joe Budden
Joe Budden
-Early life:Budden was born in Spanish Harlem, but lived in Queens until he was 12 and from there moved to Jersey City, New Jersey. He is one of five boys...

, and his friends and frequent collaborators Murs
Murs
Murs may refer to:*Murs , American rapper*Multi-Use Radio ServiceFrench communes*Murs, Indre*Murs, Vaucluse*Murs-et-Gélignieux, Ain département*Mûrs-Erigné, Maine-et-Loire département...

 and Joell Ortiz
Joell Ortiz
Joell Ortiz is an American rapper from Brooklyn, New York, and a member of the group Slaughterhouse.-Biography:Joell Ortiz was born to Puerto Rican parents. Ortiz grew up in the Cooper Park Houses in the East Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York formerly signed to Dr. Dre's Aftermath...

. Among his personal favourites are several rappers who are less acclaimed by the traditional rap purist canon, such as WC
WC (rapper)
William L. Calhoun Jr. , better known by his stage name WC , is an American rapper. He was born in Texas, but moved to South Central Los Angeles at an early age. He originally was a rapper in the group Low Profile, and later formed his group WC and the Maad Circle, which also included fellow rapper...

, Chubb Rock
Chubb Rock
Chubb Rock is a New York-based rapper who released several commercially successful hip hop albums in the early 1990s...

 and Paris
Paris (rapper)
Oscar Jackson, Jr. , better known by his stage name Paris is an American rapper from San Francisco, California, known for his highly charged political and socially conscious lyrics...

.

"Uncle Sam Goddamn" Controversy



Brother Ali has been under pressure from the recording industry due to lyrics from his song "Uncle Sam Goddamn
Uncle Sam Goddamn
"Uncle Sam Goddamn" is the second single from Brother Ali's second full-length album The Undisputed Truth. The single was released on May 4, 2007 as a 12" vinyl. There are three different editions of the single; a red version, a white version and a blue version each containing a different B-side...

", claiming creative interference from "somebody I don't wanna name, but some of you probably has their cell phones." The unnamed corporation ultimately withdrew its sponsorship of Ali, causing him to truncate parts of his current tour. Furthermore, on the song "Second Time Around" with Benzi and Wale, Ali makes references to being kicked off a tour followed by the line "Verizon dissed me too, cuz I was too political." The song is notably critical of the United States government, with accusations that the political system is addicted to war.

Studio albums

Year Album Peak chart positions
US
Billboard 200
The Billboard 200 is a ranking of the 200 highest-selling music albums and EPs in the United States, published weekly by Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists...

US R&B
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums is a chart published by Billboard magazine that ranks R&B and hip hop albums based on sales compiled by Nielsen SoundScan. The name of the chart was changed from Top R&B Albums in 1999...

US Rap
Top Rap Albums
Top Rap Albums is a record chart published by Billboard magazine that ranks Rap and hip-hop albums based on sales compiled by Nielsen SoundScan. The chart began publication for the week of November 13, 2004....

US Indie
2000 Rites of Passage
Rites of Passage (Brother Ali album)
Rites of Passage is the first album by American hip hop artist Brother Ali. It was released on Rhymesayers Entertainment on April 1, 2000. It is a cassette-only album produced by Brother Ali with very small original circulation. It has been re-issued following Ali's very successful later albums...

  • Released: April 1, 2000
  • Label: Rhymesayers
    Rhymesayers Entertainment
    Rhymesayers Entertainment is an independent hip hop record label based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, co-founded in 1995 by Sean Daley, Anthony Davis, Brent Sayers and Musab Saad....

  • Format: CD
    Compact Disc
    The Compact Disc is an optical disc used to store digital data. It was originally developed to store and playback sound recordings exclusively, but later expanded to encompass data storage , write-once audio and data storage , rewritable media , Video Compact Discs , Super Video Compact Discs ,...

    , CS
    Compact Cassette
    The Compact Cassette, often referred to as audio cassette, cassette tape, cassette, or simply tape, is a magnetic tape sound recording format. It was designed originally for dictation, but improvements in fidelity led the Compact Cassette to supplant the Stereo 8-track cartridge and reel-to-reel...

    , LP
    LP record
    The LP, or long-playing microgroove record, is a format for phonograph records, an analog sound storage medium. Introduced by Columbia Records in 1948, it was soon adopted as a new standard by the entire record industry...

*
2003 Shadows on the Sun
  • Released: May 2, 2003
  • Label: Rhymesayers
  • Format: CD
  • *
    2007 The Undisputed Truth
  • Released: April 10, 2007
  • Label: Rhymesayers, Warner Music Group
    Warner Music Group
    Warner Music Group is the third largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry, making it one of the big four record companies...

  • Format: CD
  • 69 48 6
    2009 Us
    Us (Brother Ali album)
    Us is the fourth studio album by American hip hop artist Brother Ali. It was released on September 22, 2009 on Rhymesayers Entertainment. The album is produced entirely by Ant of Atmosphere. It debuted on 56 at Billboard 200 with 8,000 copies sold...

  • Released: September 22, 2009
  • Label: Rhymesayers, Warner Music Group
  • Format: CD
  • 56 29 14 6
    2012 Morning in America and Dreaming in color
  • Released: TBA 2012
  • Label: Rhymesayers
  • Format: CD
  • To be released
    2012 TBA (with Freeway
    Freeway (rapper)
    Leslie Edward Pridgen , better known by his stage name Freeway, is an American rapper. Best known for his tenure on Roc-A-Fella Records and his affiliation with Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel, he is recognized by his high-pitched delivery and for the long beard he keeps due to his Muslim faith...

    )
  • Released: TBA 2012
  • Label: Rhymesayers
  • Format: CD
  • To be released
    "—" denotes releases that did not chart.

    EPs

    Year Album Peak chart positions
    US
    Billboard 200
    The Billboard 200 is a ranking of the 200 highest-selling music albums and EPs in the United States, published weekly by Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists...

    US R&B
    Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums
    Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums is a chart published by Billboard magazine that ranks R&B and hip hop albums based on sales compiled by Nielsen SoundScan. The name of the chart was changed from Top R&B Albums in 1999...

    US Indie
    2004 Champion EP
    • Released: May 11, 2004
    • Label: Rhymesayers
    • Format: CD
    2009 The Truth Is Here
    The Truth Is Here
    The Truth Is Here is an EP by Rhymesayers MC Brother Ali.The song "Good Lord" had a promotional video. The record contains nine songs which were previously unreleased.The CD was also sold with a DVD filled with interviews, music videos, and a full-length live performance from his The Undisputed...

  • Released: March 12, 2009
  • Label: Rhymesayers, Warner Music Group
  • Format: CD
  • 119 69 18
    "—" denotes releases that did not chart.

    Singles

    Year Song Album
    2003 "Room With a View" Shadows on the Sun
    "Star Quality'"
    "Bitchslap!"
    2004 "Champion (Remix)" Champion EP
    2007 "Truth Is
    Truth Is (Brother Ali song)
    "Truth Is" is the first single from Brother Ali's second full-length album The Undisputed Truth. The single was released January 5, 2007 as a 12" vinyl, but was later released as a CD single and a digital download. Produced by Ant, the song features a reggae-style beat...

    "
    The Undisputed Truth
    "Uncle Sam Goddamn
    Uncle Sam Goddamn
    "Uncle Sam Goddamn" is the second single from Brother Ali's second full-length album The Undisputed Truth. The single was released on May 4, 2007 as a 12" vinyl. There are three different editions of the single; a red version, a white version and a blue version each containing a different B-side...

    "
    2009 "Fresh Air" Us

    External links