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MN Music: Brother Ali (The Puzzle)

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Hidden : 1/9/2007
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Brother AliBrother Ali

Brother Ali was born in Madison, WI, and spent his early childhood moving from city to city in the midwest (mostly in Michigan). Ali’s family settled in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1992. He attended Cooper High School in New Hope, MN. It was in Minneapolis that Ali converted to Islam and was given the name Ali (he was born Jason Newman). He has a son, Faheem, from his first marriage, and remarried in 2008. According to the song "Fresh Air" on his September 2009 album "Us," he bought a house and lives there with his wife and son.

Ali’s first release was a cassette only demo tape called "Rites Of Passage”. Ali handled all of the production, recording and arranging of the project himself. That tape is what cemented his relationship with local Indie Hip Hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment. Rites Of Passage was released in 2000 and was sold almost exclusively at shows.

In 2003 Brother Ali released his first studio project titled "Shadows On The Sun”. This time he was joined by Atmosphere producer Ant, who provided all of the instrumentals. Although the album had no major national distribution, "Shadows” was heavily praised by independent Hip Hop fans and publications. Ali used the album to explain his childhood and identity.

The Champion EP was Ali’s next CD. Released just a year after "Shadows”, it was presented as an extension of the full length. Leading with a reggae inspired remix of Shadows’ "Champion”, the 9 song EP offered up highlights such as "Rain Water”, a song about Ali losing his mother and grandfather to cancer and suicide.

In spring of 2007 Rhymesayers released "The Undisputed Truth”, Ali and Ant’s full length follow up to "Shadows On The Sun”. "Truth” tells the story of Ali’s divorce from his first wife, his struggle to gain custody of their young son, Faheem and the homelessness he faced as a single father. The first of his releases to be distributed by Warner Brothers Music, Truth debuted at #69 on Billboard’s Top 100.

Brother Ali released an EP and DVD package titled "The Truth Is Here” in March 2009. The album is made up of 9 tracks including a collaboration with Rhymesayers label-mate Slug of Atmosphere.

Ali and producer Ant are also releasing an album in September, 2009. The album was originally titled "Street Preacher" but later changed to "Us". Ali, his DJ BK-One, and fellow Rhymesayers crew members Toki Wright and Evidence will be touring this fall across the nation on the Fresh Air Tour.

Truth Cover


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