They’re doing what they’ve been trained to do, which is repeat the popular narrative. These brothers in music struck common chords and blended harmonies that their listeners responded to with enthusiasm.
brother ali tour uk – A Conversation With Brother Ali
Today, veteran Rhymesayers heavyweights Brother Ali and Evidence announce a co-headlining tour that will kick off November 7 in Santa Ana, CA. Following two critically acclaimed releases – Brother Ali’s All The Beauty in This Whole Life, and Evidence’s Weather or Not – the emcees have decided to join forces in this one powerful package. My father and I have had years where we didn’t talk and there’s been physical altercations between us and stuff like that. He had a really bad temper, and I do too. I think I just try to control that stuff a lot better. He was fundamentally dishonest. That was kind of really near the core of who he was. He was what he needed to be to get what he wanted. So I would say that my dedication to being honest is me pushing back against what he was doing. And that I have an A+ on – almost to a fault a lot of times.
I think it first starts with a grown-up, mature assessment of the reality of life. And that requires an element of self-love that we don’t have as a group. Obviously there are individuals who do, and anybody who’s in touch with injustice in a meaningful way is more inclined to understand what it’s like to be criminalized just for being you. But for the average white person who’s white, middle-class, straight, Christian, that’s a difficult concept to understand. ‘Cause everybody you know, everything you see on TV, your entire reality just says: The world’s a beautiful place, and if you don’t make it, it’s ’cause you’re not trying hard enough.
As fans would expect, Weather or Not embodies the heart of the hip-hop culture; clever wordplay laid over heavy boom-bap production, a gift that’s been captured perfectly on songs like the Nottz-produced Jim Dean” or the DJ Premier-laced 10,000 Hours”. In addition, Evidence also exhibits his gift for weaving moments of personal and introspective reflection into his writing. On Love is a Funny Thing”, he muses on the things we claim to love and, along with guests Rapsody and Styles P, the three dissect the way we misuse that word’s multiple meanings and abuse its power. Evidence also provides an intimate look into his personal life on By My Side Too,” which documents how his son saved his mother’s life by indirectly discovering her cancer.
In 2018, he released NY BABY,” a triumph that boasts of his hometown with a guest verse by Bodega Bamz. He performed the track on VICELAND’s DANNY’S HOUSE. Marlon kicked off 2019 by launching a social campaign, single and video, titled, “Do the Work” where he partnered alongside three NYC organizations to educate the community of services available within the justice, education and mental health systems. Marlon’s debut studio album, Funhouse Mirror dropped June 18, 2019 with standout singles: Shallow” featuring Dizzy Wright as well as the controversial Gang Shit” addressing institutional racism in America. T.I., Killer Mike, Questlove, Shaun King continued the conversation of the message Marlon was conveying. Recently Marlon was featured in The New Yorker Magazine for his collaboration with The Halal Guys. Marlon was also recently featured in Billboard, XXL, DJBooth, Hypebeast & Uproxx.
Yeah, so he was doing a lecture tour when I was 13, and snippets from the lectures appeared on his album Edutainment that came out in ’91. He came to Michigan State University and at the end, I had bought his book, Stop The Violence, read it, loved it, took it to the lecture and asked him to sign it during the Q&A.
The liberal class has stopped engaging racial justice in a meaningful way, and part of why that is happening is because it’s so easy for white liberals to talk about gay rights. Because there’s nothing at stake for them. They feel like: If I say this, then I’m not complicit. I’m a good guy. And that’s all they really want.
In Minnesota, where I’m from, the Democrats put 85 percent of their stuff into the marriage amendment this election, and only 15 percent into voter ID laws, which are a lot more race-based and a big indicator of where we’re at as a society. Because as white people, when we start talking about race, we know that we collaborate, even if we don’t want to, because all of our institutions are so unjust. When we walk out the house, walk by a cop, drive down the street, buy a house, walk into a venue. Everything we do, we benefit from this racial privilege. And that’s uncomfortable.
Kwaician Traylor is originally from Chicago and now based in Fargo. Traylor is an American singer, songwriter, guitarist and lover of music. Traylor feels right at home, whether on a theatre stage, a packed out coffee house or outdoors busking to one person.
I read all of his other stuff, and I was avoiding the gay books. But finally I was like all right, I love this dude, I’m gonna read this. So you look at what somebody like him went through. As bright as he was, he could have written blaxploitation movies and been rich and famous. But he chose to tell the truth instead. And he suffered for it, all of his life. Other people were celebrated, and that could have been him, but he wasn’t gonna let careerism get in the way of telling the truth and bearing witness.
In one of my recent songs, Tightrope,” I was trying to check back in with the fact that on my first album I said that terrible “F” word. Because, you know, we all wake up on our own time, and a lot of times we wake up slowly and in layers. When I was younger I had such a puny, childish understanding of what peoples’ lives are like. So I said that word, not in direct reference to gay brothers and lesbian sisters, but to say “weak.” Not realizing that there’s a dominant mainstream narrative that says when we don’t understand peoples’ romantic lives, we don’t have to respect them. When you use those words in that context, you’re collaborating with that system. You’re not killing people, but you’re adding to the narrative that gets people killed.
For the record, Ali is Caucasian. But his lack of skin color made it easier to create ambiguity and avoid the label of white rapper — a tempting proposition for a man who grew up feeling accepted by black kids and mistreated by his white classmates.
Ali’s fourth studio album “Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color,” will be released on September 18. While many of his past tracks have been politically charged, a track off the new album – “Mourning In America” – takes that intensity to new heights. The accompanying video is unrelenting in its imagery and lyrics, with ample blood spill and the words “murder” and “terrorism” flashing in all caps. The song focuses on violence around the world and at home, interweaving lines about war with observations on police brutality, shooting sprees and bullying.
Jason Newman was born to white Christian parents in Minneapolis. But after finding a voice in hip hop, Newman decided to identify as Brother Ali , a Muslim who feels more connected to the black community. This isn’t Ali’s only conversation-starter: he also has albinism, and is legally blind.
Brother Ali: There are hundreds of albums I could mention, but I listen to A Love Supreme by John Coltrane almost every day. No matter what space or state my heart is in, no matter who I’m with, that album improves everything. It heals when things are bad and illuminates when things are beautiful.
5. Mourning” holds a deeper, political message. Not one to shy away from critiquing the government, Ali said in an interview with Abby Martin that his fifth studio album, Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color,” was mourning the lovelessneses and disconnection that people have collectively and individually with their own humanity.
There’s now this new obsession: white people obsessing over whiteness in the name of dismantling whiteness. This man came to the great Sufi master, and he says, “Why can’t I get it right?” And he said, “Well, because in trying to imitate the Prophet Muhammad outwardly, you grew a big beard. And you’re obsessed with your beard. You’re obsessed with the outer thing.” So the man goes and he misses the next class, ’cause he’s tearing his beard out with his hands. His friends say, “Why isn’t he still getting it?” Because he’s still obsessed over his beard. So in dismantling whiteness, we still are centering whiteness, and we’re still obsessed with whiteness.
After tearfully pleading with someone at the airport and finally getting ahold of friend and poet Ali Suliman’s brother, he was told that the organizers have been looking for him and if he doesn’t go back to them, they’ll essentially issue an APB and the Iranian police will be looking for him. Ali reluctantly goes back to the organizers and begs them to change his ticket, which they do, but the shitstorm doesn’t end there.
I’ve had experience with Islam. And even the average Muslim hasn’t had that experience. I don’t know why I’ve had it. But I’m not being my fullest, most authentic self if I don’t say that there’s a reason the people in power are so afraid of it. And it’s not because they’re afraid of physical violence, ’cause they love physical violence. The people in power – it’s their biggest industry. They love nothing more. Who’s that that great white comedian that passed away a few years ago? He had the list of the seven words you can’t say. George Carlin! So he talked about the owners; the 1%.
Those people don’t fear Islam because of physical violence. Their entire existence is physical violence. They love violence. They’re the biggest warmakers in the history of humanity; they’ve killed more people than the whole pre-modern world combined. They’re not afraid of physical violence! They’re afraid of a human being determining the meaning of life and determining what they want their priorities to be, and what they believe our purpose to be. That’s not been given permission by the 1%. They’ve approved of the political left. They’ve approved the political right. They’ve approved all of these movements. The one thing that they have no control over is the spiritual realm.
Picture a rapper: he’s Muslim, he’s white, he’s from Minnesota, he’s an albino. Brother Ali is that rapper, and he still manages to find expectations to defy. Ali’s new EP “The Truth is Here,” like his previous work, is a raw document about family, faith, and seeking happiness in tough times.
Brother Ali’s language is not always so squeaky-clean. He curses a lot, and that’s drawn disapproval from more orthodox Muslims. But the musician says he can express his faith even with what he calls his grown-up words.
No, I think it’s always a process and I think that’s one of the things about real, genuine spirituality is that we know it is a never-ending process. But I will say when we’re early on that path, sometimes the narrative that spiritually immature people have is that they were once lost and now they’re found, or they used to damned and now they’re saved, but it doesn’t work like that laughs. Once you start going on the path it’s just like anything else, like now does Venus Williams think she’s the greatest she can ever be? No because she’s always going to be working on it until she can’t anymore and it’s the same with anybody who is really dedicated to something. Once you solve one problem, you just move up in problems and you realise there’s a much more nuanced problem that you couldn’t even know about because you weren’t wise enough to see it.
You think about James Baldwin. He helped me so much, with my f-ked-up ideas that I had about gay brothers and lesbian sisters. And I had some f-ked-up thoughts that I never confronted, ‘cause I had that privilege of not having to confront them. But James Baldwin lured me in with how loving but honest and courageous he was with racial stuff. He was openly gay and black at a time in Harlem when you weren’t supposed to do that. That was against the rules.
Brother Ali says his music reflects his progress on a spiritual journey. And maybe he’s still growing into his faith. Right now, he’s on a strenuous physical journey, as well. His current tour across the U.S. takes him to almost 50 cities in the next month and a half.
It’s the most beautiful experience in my life. I met with these people even before I released this new album. So I started this touring cycle. I’d made the new album, but nobody’d heard it yet. Atmosphere was kind enough to let me open for them on tour yet again, after 15 years. They opened the door to me again, as they do for so many people.
Sean Daley and Derek Turner met in high school. The two took the names Slug and D-Spawn, respectively, as rapper names. They initially performed under the name “Mental Subjects”, before changing the name to “A Rhythmic Culture”, and finally settling on “Urban Atmosphere”. Originally, Spawn performed as the rapper, with Slug acting as DJ. Eventually Spawn convinced Slug to start rapping as well. Through the rapper Musab (then known as Beyond), Slug was introduced to the producer Ant after they went to his house to record a track. Slug saw an opportunity to work with Ant and convinced Spawn to record further with him. They soon started recording songs with Ant, learning how to structure songs properly and practicing vocal delivery. 2 Eventually the group dropped the “Urban” from their name.
The dancers are Al Taw’am from Minneapolis. You may recognize them from the “Mourning In America” video, as well as their own international videos and news pieces. The twins are dear family friends and leaders in our cultural and spiritual community. Their movement speaks of their family legacy of dignified regality. I believe them to be royalty. They choreographed this incredible piece and brought the entire song and video to life.
When we tour, we play a lot of little cities regularly, and we love playing there. The most you’re ever gonna get are 300 kids, but it’s the shit. It’s amazing. There’s no Tower Records there, there’s no Amoeba there. They basically get their music online, and if they can’t get it online, they just have to wait until we come through on tour. So if we can figure out a situation where my new album is at Target for eight bucks, we get those kinds of tools if we need them. And this is our first time doing it, so we’ll see. I’m feeling pretty good about it, I feel like they’re just gonna get our stuff in more people’s hands. The other thing is, Warner Brothers have no control whatsoever in the music we make, or how we interact with our supporters. That was the biggest deal.
The Muslim Life Program at Princeton University will host hip-hop artist and social commentator, Brother Ali, for a performance and live on-stage interview about his faith and art. The event will begin at 7 PM in McCormick Hall 101.
On Minneapolis-based independent hip-hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment , over 17 years, Ali’s released six full-length albums of rhymes equally searing and inspirational. Though Ali tends to keep it in the family, working with fellow Rhymesayers like Jake One and Ant from Atmosphere , his work has always maintained a singular sense of vision. Ali’s an albino rapper and a devout Muslim, working out questions of personal identity through a flow that disintegrates our assumptions about identity in an age when identity is everything, from politics to market research.
So do you feel like that sort of complacency is a problem elsewhere? Because that’s how I see it in music, I see some people who feel like they’ve achieved everything they can so they get complacent and then their art suffers as a result.
This year, Brother Ali’s debut album on Rhymesayers Entertainment, Shadows on the Sun, celebrates its 15th anniversary. To commemorate this occasion, Brother Ali will embark on a special 13-date headlining tour where he will perform the full album in its entirety each night. The Shadows on the Sun 15-Year Anniversary Tour kicks off November 1st in Washington D.C., with stops in New York, Minneapolis, Austin, Los Angeles, and more.
I’ve been with my wife for 13 years, I’m crazy about her. There are times where its better than the first day that we met. There are other times, like right now, when I’m preparing for a tour, an album, and everything that comes with that. And she’s a master’s student nearing the end of her semester, we’ve got kids and all this stuff going on, so we’re both firing on both cylinders, burning the candles at both ends type of thing.
7. First independent rap artist to hit 1 million views. While Uncle Sam Goddamn” brought a fair bit of controversy and tour troubles for Brother Ali, the single became a viral hit. In an interview for Breaking The Set, Ali said it was one of the first independent rap videos” to hit 1 million views.