Brother Ali – Creating His Own Space

Brother Ali Is Unique In Every Way, Our Interview

Brother Ali is known for having a political edge to his work as a Hip-Hop emcee. Once he speaks, he’s definitely going to be remembered. He recently released an album on titled, Left in the Deck, demo-style. That means untouched and shared just the way it is. It takes talent to do that. The entire project was produced by Jake One.  Ali also teamed up with rapper Immortal Technique for the War & Peace Tour, which wrapped up in October. Brother Ali has a lot going on, stay up on him here…


Parlé Magazine: 
For those who might not be familiar with the Brother Ali brand, tell them a little bit about yourself.
Brother Ali: I’m an independent artist out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I’m an MC and I do a little producing too but I’m mostly known for stuff I do on the mic–an activist. I’ve been doing it for a long time. I released my first project in 2002 and since 2003, I’ve been on the road ever since.


Parlé:  
How would you describe your style of music?
Brother Ali:  I have a unique look. I’m an Albino. In society, I don’t really fit in anywhere so I kind of created my own space wherever I go in music. I’ve always been in a category of my own. My music is about wherever my life is at that time that I’m making it. The earlier albums, you hear a lot about me being in the hood and being broke and trying to make it. When my career started to pick up, my music started shifting to not being broke the same way anymore but trying to be happy. I went through a divorce and got custody of my son. I came out of that alright so as my music kind of progressed, I’ve moved more into the activist organizing area. That’s what the last album was about.


Parlé:  Who inspires you as an artist?
Brother Ali: Early on it was Chuck D., KRS-One, Rakim, Ice Cube–those people that were the giants in the late 80’s. But since then, I like a lot of everything. I enjoy all of Hip-Hop. I like all of the new cats, Meek Mill, Kendrick (Lamar) and everything in between.


Parlé:  You have five studio albums under your belt. Do you feel under pressure to challenge yourself now or do you allow everything to flow naturally?
Brother Ali: I don’t think it can be called art if we’re not challenging ourselves. Art is basically re-imagining the world. If you think about going to someone who paints a sunset, you can take a picture of that sunset but when you paint, you re-imagine it. That’s a really powerful thing and I think that’s why people connect so much with art. Anybody can make a beat, anybody can say words that rhyme but when you really get an idea for an inspirational person that’s bringing their own unique vision of the world, that’s what touches us and that’s what actually means something. When you’re only doing something that you know people will like, that’s not art, that’s pop!
Parlé:  You recently went on a nationwide tour, War and Peace, along with Immortal Technique and Poison Pen. How did that come about?
Brother Ali: Me and Technique have been friends for a long time. We started our careers together. We toured back in 2003 and 2004, and we just remained friends. We are both on all four of the Rock the Bells dates this year and it was spread out enough so that we can squeeze a tour in between those four dates.


Parlé:  What has been your favorite city to perform in on your War and Peace tour?
Brother Ali: They’ve all been great. Something about Detroit was really dope to me. The shows have been really turnt up and live, a lot of beautiful women and great energy. In Detroit, it wasn’t the biggest work but it felt like people were really tuned in.


Parlé:  Do you have a ritual before each performance or no?
Brother Ali: All of the years of touring especially when I started, I damaged my voice permanently so I have nodules on my vocal chords so I have to really warm up my voice before I go on stage otherwise I can do more damage. I spend like twenty minutes doing all kinds of silly sounding vocal warming exercises before I go on stage.
Parlé:  Do you prefer recording or performing on stage better? Or do you enjoy both equally?
Brother Ali: Both. They’re just very different things. Do you enjoy making a baby or raising a baby? (laughs) You enjoy them both.
Parlé:  Tell me about your album, Left in the Deck.  Why did you decide to release an album that is demo-style?
Brother Ali: I really believe in making demo versions of songs. You can go back later, perfect it, polish it up and re-do it in the studio but sometimes, especially when the song is more so about the vibe and the feeling you have, you lose that feeling that you had when you first heard that beat. There’s a vibe that you lose. A lot of times, the demo’s better. Those ten songs (on the album), I didn’t want to even try to remake those in the studio. I just knew I wasn’t going to get the same feel.


Parlé:   What kind of feedback have you received from the album?
Brother Ali: It’s been all good. I think when you do a free album people that don’t like it just don’t listen to it. People don’t really complain about a free album. You have to look at reviews and the amount of clicks.


Parlé What else is in store for Brother Ali?
Brother Ali: After this tour, I’m going to tour in Europe with Dilated Peoples and start working on my next project.


Parlé:  How can you be reached? Twitter, Facebook?
Brother Ali: It’s Brother Ali on everything. Twitter, Facebook and brotherali.com (website), Instagram is @BrotherAliisblind

Also Check Out:
Immortal Technique – Perfecting The Art of Rap
Chalie Boy – A Takeover Waiting To Happen
Drathoven – Houston’s Best Kept Secret
Lil Wyte – 12 Year’s In, With No Filter
Curtis Fields – Discovering Music In New Ways

Jamie Jones

Passion Street Publications was born with Jamie Jones as Founder and CEO. She’s already released two books, Echo of Her Cry and Echo of Her Cry II: The Journey Continues-available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and www.iamjamiejones.com. Her books have received great reviews! She is keeping all publishing doors open, but she’s ready to set Houston, and subsequently the world, ablaze with her beautiful, printed creations. This is one author you must pay attention or you will miss the action. Jamie Jones lives in Houston with her family. She is a wife, mother, author, and publisher. Make sure you keep up with this multi-faceted, multi-talented woman. Twitter: @jamiejones_biz Facebook: authorjamiejones Website: www.iamjamiejones.com Read more articles by Jamie.

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