Profound and paramount emcee, Brother Ali was recently in Denver as part of his and Immortal Technique's War and Peace Tour. A writer from Colorado hip-hop publication HipHopRollCall.com, Rachel Chesbrough had the opportunity to interview the articulate Minneapolis rapper, and what he shared with her was groundbreaking.
The War and Peace Tour, has been winding its way around the United States and will continue to through early October. With two political emcees sharing the bill, the name seemed to mean more than it lead on. Of it, Ali said,
"But the idea was, on the 'peace' side, we need to have all oppressed people, all people that are marginalized, all people that are being used as commodities- you know, be it black and brown people, be it native people, be it women, be it Muslims, be it poor people, the GLBTQ community – everyone that’s targeted by the people in power, and used, that we need to have some peace together. And base our revolution on our common needs. We all need to live dignified lives, we all need education, we all need decent food, decent housing. We all need to have a life that allows us to be really human."
The war side, though a rough word, isn't necessarily war in the sense that first comes to mind, instead, a war of words, "On the 'war' side, I mean there are absolutely people that are hell-bent on building their own greed and power by pushing other people out. And we have to go to war with them."
Ali has been involved with many ground up movements, as his passion for the people doesn't just survive as good ideas. His involvement with the Occupy movement got him into a bit of trouble, but for every bit of struggle he has made strides to bring awareness to the plight of the poor and oppressed. Outside of his moving and important lyrics, Ali has other plans to spread his message, which he shared with Rachel in the candid interview.
"I haven’t talked about this with anybody, and I hadn’t planned to start talkin’ about it but since you’re so tuned in…I’m starting to write a book. I’m putting notes together for a book and talking to a really well-known person who I think is gonna edit it and help me organize my thoughts."
The massive popularity that Brother Ali and the rest of the Rhymesayers camp has received has all rested on their shoulders. Every sale, every fan and every tour has been because of their work, with no help from major labels or backers. Ultimately, they have laid the groundwork for what independent success in the music industry looks like, and it will be the example used by many in their own quests. All of their success can be attributed to them, and it wasn't easy.
"It’s round-the-clock work. And it’s also really dope, it’s very empowering to know that nobody handed you your success, so they can’t take it back. I saw Slug have the opportunity ten years ago. He had the opportunity to be Macklemore, and he decided not to. Now, that was ten years ago so maybe Macklemore will have a different trajectory than Slug saw himself having. But he came up independently, was making the prototype for that music, and radio came to him, MTV came to him, big labels came to him, and basically said “let us run with this.” And Macklemore talks about the moment where his manager (who is my former booking agent) called him and said, 'Radio is ready to run with Thrift Shop; do you want to do it? You have a choice. This is gonna change your career and your life if you choose to do it.' But Slug was in that moment and he chose not to do it."
Brother Ali has many things on his plate, with a new album, a future book and a European tour with Dilated Peoples, he will continue to spread his wealth of knowledge and peace all over the globe. To learn more read the full uncensored interview over at HipHopRollCall.com.