"I live, I die/
I laugh so I don't cry/
I work hard/
I bust my young ass to survive/
Ain't no rap video/
This is real ass life . . . "
-- "Original King," Brother Ali
First, I would like to send my prayers and condolences to the victims' families of the Virginia Tech tragedy. God bless you all.
Brother Ali is one of the most captivating voices to emerge this year with his latest effort, The Undisputed Truth. I haven't heard anything this worthwhile both lyrically and musically in the last four months since the release of Black Milk's Popular Demand.
But on a serious note . . .
In the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, Brother Ali, who is a devout Muslim, recently offered his thoughts on the nation's most gruesome mass murder and, in particular, inside the mind of the shooter Cho Seung-Hui. Yeah, he was a nut case, but it goes way beyond that generalization of him.
According to reports, Cho was indeed a loner (a nerd, if you will) who was often teased by his peers. And subsequently, after years of torment he decided to lash out with devastating consequences. Brother Ali was a "thugged-out nerd" who was also the target of bullies as a youth because of the way he looked. He had three strikes against him -- he is an albino, chubby and legally blind. But while Cho went on a warpath of violence, Brother Ali took solace into his music and Islam.
"I didn't have a whole lot of a choice, and I did have a period where I lashed back out at people," he told HipHopDX. "I did have a period where I learned how to punch people in the face. But I was blessed to have people around me putting it all in context so I can understand what I was up against."
"I think that [the circumstances] says a lot about us as a society. We focus so much on ourselves that we don't have a communal view or anything. We don't reach back and pull each other out when we're down. We don't make sure that everyone's taken care of. We just focus on what we need, personally -- the individual. Helping other people is only done when it's good for us."
On Brother Ali's The Undisputed Truth, the rhyme-spitter does an exceptional job narrating how he overcame many of his life's obstacles. Some of those included being a first-time dad, going through a messy custody battle with his baby mama and seeking spiritual redemption in Islam. When I'm listening to Brother Ali's disc, I often think about the Va. Tech tragedy and play those horrific television images in my mind.
Some have called Brother Ali's music emo-rap.
I call it unadulterated hip-hop. This is real ass life.
Check out Brother Ali's thought-provoking video for "Uncle Sam Goddamn," right HERE.
Further Reading Material: