Brother Ali is a deeply personal poet and Muslim-American hip-hop artist who has earned critical acclaim with socially conscious lyrics and, at times, prophetic messaging. But talking to Ali felt less like an interview with a hip-hop giant and more like to talking to an old friend with a careful, captivating tongue. With Ali, it’s personal.
His multiple albums track phases in his life and the way he interprets, sees, and feels the world around him. His upcoming tour stop this Monday, December 17th at Meow Wolf celebrates the 15th anniversary of his album Shadows on the Sun through Rhymesayers Entertainment. “Being albino, the sun is a major challenge for me,” says Ali on his website adding that he believes it a gift from God that will “give me the ability to overcome everything.” Ali’s 2003 hit “Forest Whitaker” from his album reflects his infectious positivity and charming self-deprecating sense of humor.
For as long as he can remember, Brother Ali has been a gifted communicator, channeling his passion for music and spiritual teaching; using his talents to speak to those he cares about most. “When I was a kid, I would put on little plays. . . I’ve always preached and taught in classes. When I was 7 or 8, I did stand up and rapped at my grandmother’s funeral.”
In his lifestyle as well as his music, he is an artist that exemplifies a profound knowledge of growth, pushing boundaries both within his music and himself.
Ali’s last album, Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color, was as he puts it, very political. “It didn’t have heart level engagement that I had in other music.” To him, the idea of diagnosing the darkness in the world has its benefits, but isn’t what he wants to be dedicating his creativity to at 40. “Being able to share light and reflect light with people is what I feel like is needed right now.”
Taking this mentality into the studio, Ali’s newest album, All the Beauty in This Whole Life, reflects the idea behind the splendor of truth he has been striving for. Curious as to how he would describe this latest work, I asked him what three words immediately come to mind when thinking about this album. Responding with no hesitation, it was: Beauty, Love and Service. “This album speaks to all the beauty in this whole life,” Ali says, “beauty and truth communicated in a way that circumvents the ego and speaks one heart directly to another.”
Last year, Ali worked with Meow Wolf to produce the music video for his song “Never Learn” from this album.
“The Southwest in general I really love a lot. There is something about the ability to see the sky—the sky and the mountains. Desert people know the difference between the sky in different places; city people don’t,” the artist muses.
Beauty struck, and perhaps in search of something beyond, Ali is ready to head back to the Land of Enchantment and we are, as always, thrilled to see everything he brings to the stage.
Click here for tickets to Brother Ali’s show on Monday, December 17th, from 7–11 pm.