Brother Ali : The Warmth behind the Wisdom • By: Lara Cornelius - Critical Race Relations
growing up Spent his early childhood moving from city to city in the Midwest with his family. In 1992 they settled in Minneapolis, MN. It was in Minneapolis that Ali converted to Islam and was given the name Ali. He has a son, Faheem, from his first marriage, and remarried in 2008. Brother Ali was born as Jason Newman in 1977 in Madison, WI. Changed his name to Ali Newman - translated to his stage name became Brother Ali. Ali got involved in hip-hop in the late 80s. He said this was, “when the more ‘educated’ rapper took over and had a really strong message of self-empowerment and being intelligent and strong, and these kind of messages. that made me want to be a certain kind of person.” Started writing lyrics all at the age of 17.
life & struggles Albinism During his childhood he remembers being excluded by his white classmates and being able to relate to Black classmates better. His own family was white. “....when they got me in an interview and asked me what race I was, I didn’t know what to say. You can look at me and tell I’m not Black so, what is the question really? What are you implying? I didn’t answer them and they decided I must be black.” Poverty Religionism Divorce
Became part of record label - Rhymesayers (Ant is the producer; also works with Slug - Atmosphere) 2003- ‘shadows on the sun’ 2009 - ‘Us’ 2007- ‘the undisputed truth’ 2000 - ‘rites of passage’ (mixtape) “I knew that I was going to be a hip-hop artist all my life since I was seven years old, plain and simple. It’s the only thing I’ve ever cared about enough to get good at.” - Brother Ali • Sees himself as a “cross between John • Gotti and Mahatma Gandhi.”
1. “You ain’t look at how you hustling backwards And the end of the year add up what they subtracted 3 outta twelve months your salary Paid for that madness, man that's sadness” - Uncle Sam Goddamn letter from the government & uncle sam goddamn 2. “ What you think happens to the money from yo’ taxes.. Shit the governments an addict With a billion dollar a week kill brown people habit And even if you ain’t on the front line When the master yell crunch time you right back at it.” - Uncle Sam Goddamn 3. “He was victimized by the same system that raped me Look at us poor Just tryin' to get our foot in the door And unfortunately hooked in this war.” - Letter to the Government 4. “It's really no different from crack peddlin' When it comes to dyin and killin for a dream you were given Last thing in your mind is how youre seen by the system Be willing to go to those extremes for your vision.” - Letter to the Government
evidence 2007 total federal spending: Defense - 460 Billion - 52.7% vs. Education - 56.8 Billion - 6.5% Health - 53.1 Billion - 6.1% (center for arms control and non-proliferation) • Two major themes throughout Ali’s lyrics : America’s Economic Priorities & Addiction to War “The United Nations and all its agencies and funds spend about $30 billion each year, or about $4 for each of the world's inhabitants. This is a very small sum compared to most government budgets and it is less than three percent of the world's military spending. Yet for nearly two decades, the UN has faced financial difficulties and it has been forced to cut back on important programs in all areas, even as new mandates have arisen. Many member states have not paid their full dues and have cut their donations to the UN’s voluntary funds. As of December 31, 2010, members’ arrears to the Regular Budget topped $348 million, of which the US owed 80%.” - UN Financial Policy Crisis, 2011
scholarly perspectives “In Afghanistan, the graveyard of so many empires, we are busy sending drones to hit targets with inevitable civilian casualties in a war that has no end, no discernible goal, and has now lasted longer than any war in the country's history. When America finds itself in wars where it can accidentally kill nine children gathering firewood, it seems somewhat abstract to talk uncritically of America's moral superiority. And when America has also crossed the line into legalized torture, and refuses to acknowledge or account for it, let alone hold the war criminals responsible, it has lost the moral standing to dictate human rights to the rest of the world.” - Andrew Sullivan , 2011 “Indeed, some $2.4 trillion (£1.5tr), or 4.4%, of the global economy “is dependent on violence”, according to the Global Peace Index, referring to “industries that create or manage violence — or the defense industry.” - Jorn Madslien, The purchasing power of peace, BBC, June 3, 2009 “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” — James Madison, Political Observations, 1795
WORKS CITED http://www.stealthmag.com/brother-ali-interview/ http://mickeyshiphop.com/hip-hop-album-reviews/the-rhyme-sayer-cometh-brother-ali%E2%80%99s-unlikely-path-to-hip-hop-stardom/ Shah, Anup. “World Military Spending.” Global Issues. 07 Jul. 2010. Web. 27 April. 2011. <http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending>. Sullivan, Andrew. “Exceptional and Unexceptional America”. The Daily Dish. 30 March 2011. Web 27 April. 2011. http://www.theatlantic.com/daily-dish/archive/2011/03/exceptional-and-unexceptional-america/173607/ Walt, Stephen. “Is America Addicted To War?” Foreign Policy. 4 April 2011. Web 27 April 2011. <http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/04/04/is_america_addicted_to_war>