Cultural Arts Review: Brother Ali

Posted on May 20, 2013 by


Keith Tessin


Brother ali

The album, “Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color,” by artist Brother Ali, was released September 18, 2012 and sold over 10,000 copies in the first week. Brother Ali was born in Madison, Wisconsin and suffers from a condition called albinism which makes him both very pale and legally blind. His hair, skin, and eyes lack the pigments that would give them their color. These physical abnormalities shaped his interactions throughout his child hood and was somewhat shunned by the white children and a result found identification with the black community instead. He is a now devout Muslim of 19 years who lives in Minneapolis, MN and makes upbeat hip hop music that is inspired by his life changing pilgrimage to Mecca, racial issues, poverty, and other social and political issues.  In the song, “Mourning in America,” Brother Ali expresses his strong feelings about US Military actions in the Middle East and in relation to Muslim communities. He highlights the double standard between the condemning of Radical Islamic Terrorism and the support of “murder” of Muslim civilians by US Military forces in the Middle East. “A killer is a killer … It’s a very thin line between a soldier and a terrorist,” he says. His music is his way of helping to acknowledge the problems that people of his religion are experiencing and takes responsibility that he needs to do what he can to assist the change in need. This artist, song, album, and entire music genre are very important to many of these political and social movements. It is the language of the generation. This is how the messages and protests are being conveyed to their audience. It gives the artist and industry a way to bring to light social and political uproars that would not be published by mainstream media sources because they are too controversial. He is able to stand up for his Islamic people and culture who are being victimized, without relying on television or newspapers who are more concerned with profits and ratings than the truth. For many, it is a complete eye opener when they hear the lyrics to the songs. The music industry has been brain washed with scenes of clubs, drinking, drugs, objectification of women, and spending money; not exactly the same mental depth as comparing the United States Military to terrorists. But the shock and uniqueness of the lyrics is what gives this method of expression its power. They are saying things so different than the rest of the industry that when someone listens, they are forced to actually listen and hear their message. As an American, you have the option to be ignorant to global events if you choose because they will never directly affect you in your daily life. With that, many times these songs are the first time that people have even heard about these issues that the artists are standing up for. Those are people that would have never been reached without hip hop; thus why this music is so important. The importance and influence stretch far beyond the radio, as listeners continue their search to the internet and talk with friends about the problems and issues, it creates exponentially more awareness and lead society in the right direction. Brother Ali is helping to spread that message, one song and one listener at a time.

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