Midnight Album Feature: Brother Ali – The Undisputed Truth

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Every Friday night on KEXP I do a show called Nite Life at 9pm. In the midnight hour I choose a record from my personal collection and bring you trax and stories from that album.

Tonight’s Midnight Album Feature is Brother Ali‘s The Undisputed Truth, his album from 2007. Brother Ali’s real name is Jason Newman and he’s from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was born an albino so he was bullied a lot as a kid and turned to rhyme and music to find strength and express himself. What I love about Brother Ali is that he’s very personal and real. He tells stories about what’s going on in his life and the state of his mind at the moment. The song “Lookin’ at Me Sideways” is a soul-infused track, I love how he mixes in the layers of soul and then just throws a rhyme at you – he is such a smart rhymer.

Just to give you a general idea of the range of this album: it has really great dance songs and also has a political song, “Uncle Sam Goddamn.”

Another masterful soul infusion into hip-hop by Brother Ali. He’s constantly touring. He’s played more than 500 shows and he uses his personal experiences to write his songs, it’s very clear. Brother Ali ended a 10-year marriage and then fought for custody of his son, and this next song “Walking Away” is about that. I think this is his most personal song on the album. I love how the fans in the video know all the words to his songs!

Brother Ali is so wise, he’s obviously been having a hard time in life but he looks at things from this lit-up point of view and he just has it together. He’s real. I believe him, I do. I wish there were more artists that took chances like he does.

Join me this Friday night for Nite Life at 9pm and the Midnight Album Feature at 12 am. This week we’ll focus on local band The Blakes and their stunning self-titled release from just last year.

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