Featured Rock the Vote Artist
|1. Fresh Air [EXPLICIT]||Brother Ali||Us||Hip-Hop/Rap||4:42|
|2. Us||Brother Ali||Us||Hip-Hop/Rap||2:44|
by Suzy Geers
Brother Ali is a chameleon in life and in music. In childhood, his family moved place to place, a new school- new pairs of eyes looking. Brother Ali has had his share of severe emotional, life traumas: His mom died, with whom he was not on the best of terms but as Ali says, “People have had it way worse. It made me want to be self reliant.” Us, Brother Ali’s collection of sixteen songs, chronicles a new direction allowing Ali to venture through the strengths and flaws of the human condition, exploring the evils of slavery, drug abuse, rape and poverty as well as the beauty of love, family and redemption.
Rock the Vote: You adapt to every new situation in life, and that is exactly like your music. Your lyrics and rhymes have progressed with each album.
Brother Ali: I have always wanted to make really powerful music about the things I care about. When I started out I was REALLY struggling just to survive. When I first began to tour, I didn’t have enough money to eat except for one meal a day. I had a baby, I had a wife—and life was just rugged BUT I always find fun in EVERYTHING! I just enjoy being alive. With my first album I was trying to assert myself like, “You need to listen to me. I am here, and I am good at this.” I felt the most powerful music I can make would mean talking about my personal struggles. Then I started thinking about happiness- more than “just” survival. I need to build a life around myself that’s going to reflect who I am and who I think I am SUPPOSED to be. So, I started looking at things in my life- I got married at 17—I’ve been on my own since 16, 17. The marriage was horrible… I didn’t really “know” the girl- she had really serious mental and emotional issues- the life I had STILL wasn’t right, and then came my second album, The Truth. I was stripping my life apart, rebuilding it in a way that would make me fulfilled as a person. I ended up leaving my now ex-wife, got custody of my son, and I was starting to do better and better. I fell in love for REAL- honest to God! Ridiculous love that grew into healthy love. I got remarried, had another baby and bought a house. So, on THIS album, Us you get me thinking a little bit bigger now that I am stable and now that I am happy- it makes me think a lot more of the people I grew up with and love and care so much about. I want to shed some light on what’s going on… like, “I’m doing great but how come I’m not FULLY and completely happy?” That’s because the people I care about are STILL struggling and suffering the way I was.
Rock the Vote: Your music is vulnerable and so, so soulful. What song on Us truly accentuates who Brother Ali is at this moment?
Brother Ali: The title track! The last song on the album. I think that kind of wraps up the overall sentiment of the new album, and kind of the way I want my moment to go. What I want this chapter of my artistry to really be about- uniting people, showing people how really ALIKE we all are- that how much of what we all desire truly is the same.
Rock the Vote: FYI to the reader: Us opens with “Brothers And Sisters” as the legendary Chuck D (Public Enemy) introduces Brother Ali as the speaker for the evening accompanied by a live Gospel choir and Stokley Williams (Mint Condition).
Rock the Vote: Let’s talk about health care. You’re a human being that has a disease that REQUIRES much needed attention… and the unfortunate death of your mom who died of cancer.
Brother Ali: My mom died of cancer and thankfully was covered by the state of Minnesota. It was really great. My brother was taking care of her… and for a person without private health insurance she was taken care of very well. I fully and firmly believe that health care is a human right. It has nothing to do with politics… socialism, capitalism…. freedoms… if we look at all of the parts of our life that the government provides for us and in return for the trillions of dollars we give them every year in taxes- why can’t we have health care coverage? Health care is SUCH a basic human right that should be provided for the same way the government provides roads, schools, health care for the elderly… for people who clearly need it but aren’t able to have it. I am self employed and with that, have HUGE tax bills and with that it is hard for someone like me to walk into a Blue Cross and “buy” private health insurance for my family. On one hand, I am generating all this money to my state and my government… and on the other hand I can not afford health care. It is no joke. Matter of fact, when the tour that I am on right now is done I am going to pay back taxes for TWO years, and that was when I was homeless with my son. I was sleeping on floors with a baby, on friend’s couches but because I was self-employed, I owe the money. Right now, no one is covered in my family. No one in my family has health insurance. The state covered my daughter and that just ran out. When I get home, I don’t have a choice- I have to write a check to the I.R.S. and I HOPE to write the health insurance check… and there is something very, VERY wrong with that.
Rock the Vote: Yes, yes there is. I know your health is at risk… how are you feeling?
Brother Ali: I’m good. I’m albino, so I have to be really careful about my skin and skin cancer. The one doctor I see regularly is the dermatologist-- because I had a mole on the side of my head and it was growing, so it HAD to be removed and tested. It’s ok but I really have to be aware. Like I said earlier, I pay out of pocket so, it hurts… it hurts bad.
Brother Ali is on tour and his new album Us is in stores- it is thought provoking, the rhymes are tight and meaning full, and the beats back it all up. Us is nothing short of SUPERB! Oh, and Brother Ali is you’re reading this: the Celtics RULE, baby!