Brother Ali (born Jason Douglas Newman) is a famed rapper and community activist hailing from the Midwest. Ali is praised as one of Rhymesayers Entertainment’s most esteemed voices for the majority of the past two decades. Born with albinism, the emcee first began rapping at age eight. As a teenager, he relocated to the Minneapolis area with his family, and at age 15, he converted to Islam and changed his name to “Ali.” Years later, his demo Rites of Passage found its way onto the radar of the newly established Rhymesayers collective, who promptly signed the emcee to their imprint and released the rapper’s self-produced debut as a cassette-only album. Joining the crew at the now-defunct Scribble Jam in 2000, Brother Ali became a finalist at the fest’s annual emcee competition.
In 2003, Brother Ali released Shadows on the Sun, with production by Ant of Atmosphere fame and included a song (“Forest Whitiker”) that spoke of his experience with albinism. After releasing his Champion EP in 2004, the rapper went through a difficult divorce, during which he struggled for custody of his son. He later put his hardships into his music, teaming up with Ant once again for 2007’s The Undisputed Truth, with the project marking his first entry into the Billboard 200. Two years later, Brother Ali released Us (once again produced entirely by Ant) and was met with universal acclaim. His fifth studio effort, Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color, was produced by Jake One and arrived in 2012. Most recently, Brother Ali teamed up with Ant for 2017’s introspective All the Beauty in This Whole Life. With his politically charged lyricism and ability to draw from his personal life to inspire others, Brother Ali remains a beloved mainstay in underground hip-hop.