Brother Ali was born as Jason Newman in 1977.
He suffered from albinism growing up, facing hostility from his predominantly white community due to his skin tone and other physical abnormalities. Consequently, Ali developed an affinity for, and got along better with, African Americans. This fostered in him a love for hip hop, and the incessant curiosity to learn about cultures outside his own. Ali is also legally blind, due to his albinism.
In 1993, he converted to Islam with the Warith Deen Muhammed community. Since his conversion, he has become hip hop's Islamic iconoclast and advocates a more peaceful, accepting approach to the genre in his lyrics.
In the title track for his latest album, Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color, Brother Ali opens up with a Malcolm X sample. The track, reminiscent of political hip hop artists Ali heard back in his teenage years, shifts gears to tackle current problems, declaring terrorism to be "war of the poor", while warfare is "terrorism of the rich." The whole album is Ali's insight into the biggest problems facing the nation today: poverty, war, prejudice, and delusions of a post-racial landscape. More
"A lot of the people that were sold or stolen fro Africa and became slaves in the united states were Muslim, and the United States version of slavery was very high tech in the way that it tried to ruin and steal the humanity of the people."
"This is a weird f*cking world. Why do I have to think about race all the f*cking time? The world being weird has made me weird."
Brother Ali discusses his experiences as a Muslim.
"Welcome to the united snakes
Land of the thief, home of the slave
Grant imperial guard where the dollar is sacred and power is God"
- Brother Ali Uncle Sam Goddamn