Published Mar 22, 2007Brother Ali refuses to be anything but himself. Its why his 2003 debut album had a song that detailed his struggle as an Albino he lacks any pigment in his skin to fit in. Its also why said song was named after a great actor, Forest Whitaker, who lacked the "look to make it big. Since that time, the Minneapolis MC split with his wife, fought for custody of his son, struggled with homelessness and pursued a life of happiness, not of survival but one closer to serenity. The Undisputed Truth finds Ali spilling his soul on topics domestic and foreign. Ghetto poverty, raising a son, the governments misdeeds or shedding his skin to evolve, no topic is off-limits. Rare is the MC that rhymes so passionately without first coating the message in half-truths and "Im so self-conscious bullshit. He is helped here in this adventure by Ant of Atmosphere, who provides the butter-smooth, vintage, soul-heavy production. "Lookin At Me Sideways, "Faheem and "Take Me Home claw their way to the top of the bunch, the latter featuring a lewd guitar riff that snakes its way through a drum beat with a nice kick and a female chant.
Is the West willing to accept a Muslim MC whose politics are anti-government and who namedrops the Koran?
I dont present myself as a Muslim artist. I look at myself as a person, a human being expressing himself. I think the best way to make art is to bring yourself to it. Im not trying to spread Islam; Im not trying to teach. Im a lot of different things. Im a Muslim because I believe in those things but you dont hear me say, "the Koran says this so you have to do this. I dont think Im anti-government [but] there is a disconnect between what America says it is and what it actually means to people in reality.
Now that Forest Whitaker has won an Academy Award, do you feel that you were justified in writing a song about being different and basing it on him?
There are a few people I admire and hes one of them. He embodies what that song was about. You dont look at Forest Whitaker and go, "Damn, I wish I was like him. He's no Denzel Washington but he mastered his craft. He used the way he looks as a tool and hes successful because of who he is as a person. He showed em all.