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Ali Douglas Newman (born Jason Douglas Newman, July 30, 1977), better known by his stage name Brother Ali, is an American rapper, community activist, and member of the Rhymesayers Entertainment hip hop collective. He has released six albums, four EPs, a number of singles and collaborations.
Brother Ali performing in 2012
|Birth name||Jason Douglas Newman|
|Born||July 30, 1977|
|Origin||Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States|
|Labels||Rhymesayers Entertainment/Warner Music Group|
Ali was born in Madison, Wisconsin, with albinism, a disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair, and eyes. He moved with his family to Michigan for a few years and then settled in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1992. He attended Robbinsdale Cooper High School in New Hope, Minnesota. He began rapping at age eight. Ali stated that he was influenced by hip hop culture at a very early age. In an interview with Huck magazine, he stated "Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always been into hip hop. I started beatboxing when I was about seven years old. Eventually, that led to me falling in love with the words." 
On August 13, 2007, Brother Ali appeared on The Late Late Show and performed his single "Uncle Sam Goddamn" from The Undisputed Truth. On October 19, 2007, Ali appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and performed "Take Me Home" from The Undisputed Truth. On December 16, 2009 Ali appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and was featured with late night band The Roots.
On April 4, 2017, he appeared on The Combat Jack Show: "The Brother Ali Episode" and on October 19, 2017, on BuzzFeed's See Something Say Something podcast. On April 5, 2018, he appeared on Max Fun's Heat Rocks podcast.
Ali also appeared in Sacha Jenkins' 2018 documentary Word is Bond.
Ali has a son, Faheem, from his first marriage, and a daughter, Soul, from his second marriage in 2006. His music frequently addresses his role as a father, parent, and husband. The song "Real as Can Be" off his 2009 EP The Truth Is Here refers to the incoming daughter and in the song "Fresh Air" from his 2009 album Us, he goes on to say "Just got married last year/ treated so good that it ain't even fair/ already got a boy now the baby girl's here/ Bought us a house like the Berenstain Bears."
Ali often makes fun of the media's constant urge to mention his albinism condition in the first lines of their reviews or newspaper articles. He is also legally blind which is caused by his albinism.
In an article titled "The Art of Mourning in America", Brother Ali said his favorite food is sweet potato pie. The interview was conducted during the month of Ramadan and Ali performed a freestyle: "life long Starvation every month is Ramadan, walk in the crib and I'm surprised that the power's on."
Ali converted to Islam at age 15 and followed Imam Warith Deen Mohammed. During this time, Ali was selected to join a group of students on a Malaysian study tour, in which they explored ways that a more liberal Islamic society could peacefully coexist with different religions.
Ali credits his conversion to Islam to fellow hip hop musician KRS-One, whom he met during a lecture at age 13 at a local Minnesotan university. When asked about his faith, Ali stated, "KRS-One was actually the one who told me I should read Malcolm X. He assigned the autobiography of Malcolm X to me; I read it, and that’s what led to me becoming a Muslim." Despite this, his magnum opus in “The Undisputed Truth” is widely considered to be universal in its language and helped harvest the indie underground scene of the mid 2000s.
Many of Brother Ali's themes of social justice are incorporated into his lyricism, though he also takes part in activism outside of the music. He primarily focuses on themes of racial inequality, slavery, and critiquing the United States government, though overarching themes of hope, acceptance, and rising from sorrow are also often present. Much attention was garnered through Ali's album, The Undisputed Truth, as it heavily criticized much about the United States' political system. After the music video for "Uncle Sam Goddamn" was released in 2007, it quickly gained much attention, and shortly after, the United States Department of Homeland Security froze a money transfer to his record label.
In 2012, Ali was arrested along with thirty-seven others while occupying the home of a Minneapolis resident to fight the house's foreclosure. The goal of the protesters was to block the eviction of the family through their assembly and occupancy, but they were unsuccessful. Ali ended up using his celebrity as a platform to discuss these events, and bring them to the attention of his audience.
Ali deals heavily with the notion of privilege, and focuses on bringing to mind issues that are all too often ignored within society. He stated in an interview with Yes! magazine that "The best definition of privilege I’ve heard is anything you don't have to wrestle with, that you don't have to think about". Ali feels a certain obligation to act politically, as he is unwilling to sit aside after experiencing all he has. He states, "I feel like that's my job, and I feel like within the last few years I fully woke up to that, found the courage to understand that, and stepped out like that".
|Year||Album||Peak chart positions|
|US||US R&B||US Rap||US Indie|
|2000||Rites of Passage||—||—||—||—|
|2003||Shadows on the Sun
|2007||The Undisputed Truth
|2012||Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color
|2017||All the Beauty in This Whole Life
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart.|
|Year||Album||Peak chart positions|
|US||US R&B||US Indie|
|2009||The Truth Is Here
|2012||The Bite Marked Heart
|2013||Left in the Deck
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart.|
|"What Time Is It?"||2001||Musab||Respect the Life|
|"Without My Existence"||Unknown Prophets||World Premier|
|"Cats Van Bags"||2003||Atmosphere||Seven's Travels|
|"The Truth"||2008||Jake One, Freeway||White Van Music|
|"Dreamin'"||2009||Gift of Gab, Del the Funky Homosapien||Escape 2 Mars|
|"Caged Bird, Pt. 1"||Zion I||The Take Over|
|"So Wrong"||2010||Joell Ortiz, Talib Kweli, Jean Grae||Me, Myself & I (Part Two)|
|"Damn Right"||2011||Statik Selektah, Joell Ortiz||Population Control|
|"Maybe It's Just Me"||Classified||Handshakes and Middle Fingers|
|"Civil War"||Immortal Technique, Killer Mike, Chuck D||The Martyr|
|"Get Up Stand Up"||2012||Public Enemy||Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamp|
|"The Dangerous Three"||2013||R.A. the Rugged Man, Masta Ace||Legends Never Die|
|"Illuminotme"||Bambu, Odessa Kane||Sun of a Gun|
|"Live and Let Go"||2014||Hilltop Hoods||Walking Under Stars|
|"Understand"||2015||Talib Kweli, 9th Wonder, Planet Asia||Indie 500|
|"Nardwuar"||2016||The Evaporators||Ogopogo Punk|
- "Brother Ali". Rhymesayers Entertainment. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
- "Brother Ali: An Honest Act Of Worship". Npr.org. Retrieved 2015-04-02.
- "In hip-hop Brother Ali found faith and identity" Huck Adam Woodward Retrieved on 22 January 2016
- "Late Night with Conan O'Brien". Tv.com. Retrieved 2015-04-02.
- MaxFun Intern (24 July 2013). "Judge John Hodgman Episode 120: Halal In The Family". Maximum Fun. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
- Ulaby, Neda (October 5, 2009). "Brother Ali: An Honest Act Of Worship". NPR. Archived from the original on February 29, 2012.
- Muhammad Ali, Queen (19 February 2013). The Art of Mourning in America (#3 ed.). Nation19 Magazine. pp. 44–46. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
- "In hip-hop Brother Ali found faith and identity" Huck Magazine Adam Woodward Retrieved on 22 January 2016
- Tepper, Fabien. "Rapper Brother Ali on Privilege, Hope, and Other People's Stories". YES! Magazine. Retrieved 2016-04-04.
- "Local Rapper Brother Ali Arrested At Occupy Protest « CBS Minnesota". Minnesota.cbslocal.com. 2012-06-22. Retrieved 2015-04-02.
- "Brother Ali: Chart History". Billboard.com. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
- "Brother Ali: Billboard Albums". AllMusic. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
- Hess, Mickey. "Volume II: The Midwest, The South, and Beyond." Hip Hop in America: A Regional Guide. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2010. 368–70. Print.
- Jones, D. Marvin. "Part 1: Racing Culture/Erasing Race." Fear of a Hip-hop Planet: America's New Dilemma. Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2013. 33–39. Print.
- Tepper, Fabien. "Rapper Brother Ali on Privilege, Hope, and Other People's Stories." YES! Magazine. Positive Futures Network, 18 Feb. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.
- Ali, Brother. "The Intersection of Homophobia and Hip Hop: Where Tyler Met Frank." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 07 Sept. 2012. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.