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Artists to Know: Brother Ali

BABy Mark “D” Thomas
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

Brother Ali–an Albino hip hop star from Wisconsin? You bet.

A member of Rhymesayers Entertainment, Brother Ali has been making records since 2000, and his killer flow is not one to miss.

Due to his albinism, Ali always states that he felt a bit of an outcast within the white community, so he actually felt more comfortable growing up with many more black friends. This helped him gravitate toward hip hop, and his love of hip hop grew quick.

Here’s a verse Ali spits about his color:
“They ask me if I’m black or white, I’m neither
Race is a made up thing, I don’t believe in it
My genes tie me to those that despise me
Made a livin’ killing the ones that inspired me
I ain’t just talkin’ bout 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
Does that make a liar? Maybe.
But I don’t want the white folks that praise me to think that they can claim me
Cause you didn’t make me
You don’t appreciate what I know to be great, yet you relate to me
And that frustrates me and what can I say?
Cause I know that I benefit from something I hate
But make no mistake our connection ain’t fake
It’s never too late to clear off the slate
If you follow my tapes then you know what I’m about
If something comes up then it must come out.”

Ali has released 5 total albums, a mixture of EP’s and LP’s. His first album never got much attention and remains as mostly an underground favorite, Rites of Passage, released in 2000. His latest LP, Us, released in 2009, reached #56 on the Billboard 200.

Brother Ali was the focus of some controversy with his hit single “Uncle Sam Goddamn” off of his 2007 LP, “The Undisputed Truth.” The track is a captivating track chronicling Ali’s opinion that the US is addicted to war. He got attention for the message as a whole, but also because he announced that the release of the track was interfered with by one of his tour sponsors, Verizon, who apparently weren’t a big fan of parts of the song. They withdrew their sponsorship of his tour and caused him to have to cancel some parts of his tour.

Ali is a brilliant rapper not because he stands out as an albino male. He just is. Do yourself a favor and check him out, you won’t regret it. He is currently about to start a tour on the west coast, so if any of you are out there, definitely check him out. I experienced him live opening for Atmosphere, and it was the greatest hip hop show I’ve ever been to.

Standout tracks: Uncle Sam Goddamn, Forest Whitaker, Babygirl, You Say(Puppy Love), Fresh Air

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