It’s been 17 years since I was first introduced to Brother Ali, when “Eighty-8” from his Rites Of Passage album blew my Freshman face off. Since then, he’s released four incredible full-length albums—including Shadows On The Sun (which turned 15 this week), The Undisputed Truth, Us, Mourning In America and Dreaming In Color—four EPs, and has made memorable appearances on tracks alongside Slug of Atmosphere, Talib Kweli & 9th Wonder, Statik Selektah, Killer Mike, and countless others.
All that said, it’s been five years since Brother Ali released an album. And folks, that’s five years entirely too long. But let’s not act like he hasn’t been putting in work. From hundreds of shows to surviving as a Muslim man in America, and, perhaps most important for his future in music and life, he dove headfirst on his spiritual path to help find the beauty and peace within—which is the driving point of his new album, All the Beauty In This Whole Life.
“Now, more people are turning to politics and paying attention to what the administration is doing,” the Minneapolis-based emcee told Billboard. “So many helpful things are being said about that, but my new album is about looking inward. I’m happy that this is what I’m offering the world in this moment. It’s not like there’s less of a focus on outward justice, but the reality is that the first and most important battlefield for fighting for justice is our heart.
“Each album is tied to different chapters of my life. This one’s focused on the heart and the idea that beauty is the outward manifestation of virtue. When somebody has beauty in their inner reality, it manifests on the outside. At some point, it became very clear to me that whatever’s going on inside me is going to be a reflection of what I’m able to offer the world.”
Locked in at 15 tracks, including “Own Light,” “Never Learn” and “Uncle Usi Taught Me,” All the Beauty in This Whole Life includes contributions from deM atlaS, Sa Roc, Idris Phillips, and poet Amir Sulaiman.
Check it out below and cop All The Beauty In This Whole Life on iTunes.
As a bonus, I’ve also included Ali’s appearance on The Combat Jack Show, which I never got around to posting. Clocking in at 1.5 hours, the discussion is worth every minute.
On this episode we bring to you another check mark from our “to get” list. All the way from the mid-west, this Minnesota native shares his story from being in the rap game for 17 plus years, his Muslim faith, Trump era politics, his plans for the future and much more.