Brother Ali has committed his life to truth and justice. He’s a MC from Minneapolis and is also a highly respected artist and activist in the hip hop community today. His hard hitting words escape not only through his lyrics and music but also as a voice of an influential public figure. This has brought Brother Ali in a different shade of light. A light where he creates music from the heart to educate and to inform audiences with his real life experiences and the worlds.
Stimulate Your Soul sits down with Brother Ali to chat about how his upcoming shows will be a tribute to the late Sean Price, his thoughts of the recent NWA movie and why colonised and dominated countries like the US and Australia have never had meaningful conversations about race. Margaret Tra writes.
The last time you were here with Sean Price, can we expect any tributes?
The whole tour will be a tribute to him. Australia will forever be related to P in my heart because that's where we really bonded. I probably won't do an outward tribute to him, but I'll follow my heart.
What can we expect from your shows this time around?
I'll perform the main songs from all of my albums and a few new ones I'm working on with ANT. I like to feel out the energy of the audience and tailor the set specifically to them. I'm here to serve.
What are your thoughts on NWA’s latest movie?
I thought it was really well executed. It's not easy to condense the creative process and portray it realistically in a film. Most music movies miss the mark pretty drastically and hip hop movies have historically been awful in that regard. I'm grateful to see black artists take control of their own narratives and tell their own stories. I love seeing Cube cast his son in the film. I thought they dealt fairly with everything and everyone they included in the film. There was however, an enormous gap that they chose not to deal with, the hateful messages about women and the real life brutal violence that Dre in particular has a pattern of living out. Dee Barnes' piece is a critical must read for everyone who sees the film.
You’re lyrical content is one to help the masses, do you ever worry about what you can and cannot say?
I only worry about getting it right and making the songs as truthful as I possibly can. I try to be extremely present and focussed in my own heart and reality and stick to my personal experiences. For example I may feel called to write a song about violence toward women, but it's not my place to tell women's stories for them. They're more than capable of telling their own (see Jean Grae's incredible work). Instead, I'll write the song from the perspective of me, a man, loving women who've survived violence. I stay in my lane and talk about what I experience in witnessing them navigate the lasting effects of being brutalised. I talk about my pain, my admiration, my support, my fear of not knowing how to help. I don't think I can ever go too wrong by being sincere and telling my own story.
Are you working on any new projects?
Trying to get back in the swing of writing songs and ANT has been helping me. I've been writing to his beats and I'm hoping this turns into a new album with the two of us.
If you could offer one advice for an emerging MC, what would it be?
I have a project called "Left In The Deck" with a song called "Rapper Thing.” That song is entirely advice to upcoming artists. The project streams free online and there are a few limited cassette versions of it as well if you can find them.
You post a lot about life issues, black lives and controversial news that is affecting everyday people. It’s as though as a white person you feel the need to be able to share this, what message are you wanting people to take away from it?
Honestly, it's difficult because the places where white people have colonised and dominated (like the US and Australia) have never had meaningful conversations about race. Black and White people aren't even speaking the same language about race. Short messages have the danger of being misinterpreted by people who don't share the language and tools it takes to understand race in a meaningful way. I'm in the process of writing a book that I hope will be of benefit to someone.
What stimulates your soul?
The love of love. Pray for me.
September 11 | Sydney | Oxford Art Factory | Tix
September 13 | Melbourne | Laundry Bar | Tix
September 14 | Canberra | Transit Bar | Tix