BROTHER ALI / “Brother Ali Mixtape”

brother ali 14.jpg I dig Brother Ali. I’m not just saying it to be saying it. A while back we laid down our views and I stick by what I said then. In fact, I’m encouraging everybody who's interested in Ali’s music to go back and read the exchange Mtume and I had on Brother Ali, and also read the comments. I double down on everything I said back then and I’m pretty sure Mtume holds to what he said. I know there is a big difference between rap and other forms of music in terms of judging the music by the content of the lyrics but I don’t think the difference is as crucial as some folk assert. First of all, in popular music there is a high level of bullshit regardless of what type of music is examined. If it’s commercial, generally speaking there’s a strong possibility it’s bullshit, not because commerce in and of itself equals bullshit but rather because unless there is a social movement happening, the majority of what’s popular is going to be escapism. Back in the day—and let’s be specific, “back” generally refers to the sixties and the seventies—forty or so years ago there were strong social movements happening throughout America and particularly so in the black communities, which meant that at the very least social advocacy and critiques of the so-called “American way” were an active part of most people’s day to day existence. Even if you were opposed to political forwardness and didn’t like all the social commentary, you still had to deal with it because the “who, when’s, why’s and what’s that was going on was what everybody was responding to—getting down with that was what was going on! And that’s not just double talk. brother ali 17.jpg So, anyway, Brother Ali has a new album. Except for dropping some quotes and giving a context for those quotes, all I’ve got to say, I’ve already said. For the Brother Ali Mixtape I chose nine out of the sixteen album cuts. There are only two cuts on the album I don’t particularly like. I had a hard time narrowing it down, mainly because I was really impressed by the range and depth of some of the stories he’s dropping and the philosophical positions he’s taking, plus I like the way he tells the stories and articulates his beliefs. Some of his lines are absolute gems; like, “puppy love is real to a puppy.” So, now, check him out for yourself.

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Here are some choice quotes from Brother Ali interviews and write-ups. I’m including the stuff about underground rap and how he writes specifically because I agree that we as humans ought to enjoy being human and one of the purposes of art is to make life beautiful, joyous and exciting. I don’t dig doom and gloom. At the very least music ought to make you smile, if not full out laugh or jump up in utter amazement. Our art should open us, expand our minds, up lift us, give us a fuller awareness of the beauty and wonder of the world and of we humans who inhabit this planet. Yes, we must fight. But we are not fighting for the sake of fighting and indeed, over and over history has shown, you can’t stop wars by fighting… but all of that is another story, for another time. Right now, come get to this. brother ali 25.jpg
People can't believe I listen to _________. 50 Cent. I think people assume that because I'm an underground independent artist that I must hate or look down on music that's mainstream. That's bullshit. Music is music. Artists are in the positions we're in because of our talent, accesabillty and business outlets. 50's on the radio and famous but if you listen to his albums you're hearing exactly what NWA was saying. And dude has so much heart and personality. His voice and style and delivery are the shit. You might say that his lyrics aren't the most complex but people said that about Guru or Q-Tip. Music is about feeling and 50 reminds me of that crazy dude you grew up with who's funny and cool if you're cool with him but on the low you're kinda scared of dude cause he's crazy. I got people in Minneapolis like that.
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People can't believe I won't listen to _________. 98% of underground rap.
Same thing. People think I'm in the independent category by choice. There's not a rapper alive who doesn't want to be rich and famous. Anyone who tells you they don't is a fucking liar. Everyone who's ever made art wants it to be loved and appreciated and they want to make as much money with is as humanly possible. On RARE occasion you find dudes like Slug who would rather do it their way than get pushed into some corny shit to get big. They still want to be rich, they'll just only do it their own way. The rest of us are underground because we don't know how to sell out successfully. Most underground rap has no feeling to it. The cats are creative and they got something to say but their voice and presentation lends itself to me not giving a fuck. I dig cats like MURS, Joell Ortiz, Immortal Technique and Blueprint. Dudes that can rhyme and I feel what they're saying. There's a few more like that, I just wrote the first ones that came to mind. —Brother Ali  

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I can’t pretend to be innocent on this one. If you listen to my first album, I say ‘faggot’ on there twice. At the time that I wrote those songs I didn’t have any openly gay friends… I didn’t have a particular hatred for gay people; I was just oblivious to what life was like for them. So when I said words like ‘faggot’ or ‘homo,’ I wasn’t connecting that with real people. But for some people that’s their n-word. The word faggot means ‘to light something on fire.’ And they used to burn gay people. And we still in this country kill gay people and torment gay people… With words like 'faggot'…I had no business saying that. I didn’t know at that time. It took me getting involved in music…[and] I ended up having a lot of people that I really care about who are gay. And it just really made me realize that what they’re going through is terrible. And I’ll even be real enough to say I still don’t get it. I still don’t understand [being gay]. But what I do know is that we shouldn’t be actively trying to hurt and destroy people because we don’t get what they do. There [were] a couple of exceptions on The Truth Is Here EP, but on all of my albums, all the way up through Undisputed Truth, every single story I ever told was autobiographical, and everything that I said was about me. I didn’t make songs about other people. I didn’t make songs about other people’s business. And I developed this really personal way of writing and describing things and telling stories, and everything was about me. And then Undisputed Truth was the most extreme example of that, right? So that whole album is just really about a three-year period in my life, and it’s all about me and my stories… I did that to death. I don’t wanna be kept in that [box]. I wanna be able to move outside of that now. And so the reason why this album is called Us – it was originally called Street Preacher – is because the idea was to not just talk about me but to talk about us. A lot of these songs – almost all of ‘em, there’s only one [“Fresh Air”] [click to listen] that’s really about me, the rest of ‘em are about relationships I’ve had with people, and just trying to give you a little insight into their lives. —Brother Ali
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Well, folks, that’s it. Hope you enjoyed this, if not, next week we’ll drop another piece of something different, which ultimately, is the beauty of this music: there’s room at this table for everybody to get some. If you don’t like it, let it be. If you do like it, pass it on. Peace out. —Kalamu ya Salaam Brother Ali Mixtape Playlist brother ali us cover.jpg All tracks are from Brother Ali’s new release, US. 01 “Fresh Air” 02 “Breakin Dawn” 03 “Tight Rope” 04 “Slippin Away” 05 “Babygirl” 06 “House Keys” 07 “Bad Mufucker Pt.2” 08 “You Say (Puppy Love)” 09 “Us”

This entry was posted on Monday, October 12th, 2009 at 6:56 am and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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