Sunday 7 March 2010

Brother Ali: "Islam Made Me Hip-Hop Star"

Brother Ali has a very interesting explanation for what changed him from an angry, struggling teen growing in the Midwest to a famed Hip-Hop star who tours the world with his music.

"There have been a lot of life-changing moments," Brother Ali told in an exclusive story.

"Some of the big ones were becoming involved with Islam and being involved with music."

He was born Jason Newman, with the rare genetic condition of Albinism, which is also accompanied by visual difficulties.

His childhood was marked by cruelty and exclusion by his white classmates.

"I was kind of an outcast as a kid," he recalls, adding he felt most at home amongst African Americans.

"When I come across white people and hear all the racism and the white supremacy, it makes me really confused and angry and upset."

But Ali, 33, says that Islam, which he embraced at the age of 15, helped him go through his difficult times, from parting ways with his wife of 10 years, to becoming homeless and trying to secure custody of his son.

"Islam helped me with a lot of those things. It helped me understand myself and the world better."

For Brother Ali, who has recently wrapped up a world tour for his fifth album "Us," it was not an easy journey to rise and solidify his place amongst the Hip Hop elite.

He says it is Islam and Prophet Muhammad that led him from being the angry, struggling teen growing in the Midwest to the famed Hip-Hop star who tours the world with his music.

"One of the main messages through out the Qu’ran and from the traditions of prophet Mohamed is the idea of excellence… that everything Muslims set out to do, they want to perfect it and they want to be excellent," he notes.

"Our prophet is a walking example of what human excellence can be and all the potentials that is inside of a human being. And I am really inspired by that."

Ali believes that with his music and his Islam, he is on a mission.

"I believe this is what I was born to do and it is my job and my goal as a Muslim to be the best that I could be."

His songs tackle everything from his life struggles, to race relations in America, to wars.

In his last album, he presented a song about the war.

"We as Americans are being set to stick to blind generic patriotism. I made the song about this feeling, about the underside of America that we do not really hear about a lot," he explains.

"Because of this song I lost a tour I was looking for. When we were in Australia, the Department Of Homeland Security froze our entire account. And I suspect that this song and the controversy behind it was behind all this."

But Ali, now a father of Soulaila, 2, and Fahim 9, is not ready to compromise on what he believes in.

"What is really important when you apply Islam to your life is not to pretend to play a character.

"That’s why in my music I try to be honest and express myself in the most honest way."

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