Saturday, October 6, 2012
October 6-7, 2012: Brother Ali
Recommending a very unique and talented young American musician.
Thanks to this NPR story—actually, thanks to Rick Perlstein, who shared the link to the story on his Facebook page, and whom I’ve never met nor talked with personally but with whom I am Facebook “friends” nonetheless (ah, the 21st century at its finest!)—I’ve recently discovered the young rapper and activist Brother Ali. I’m still in the process of exploring his music and work, so I won’t pretend to be an expert, and will just highlight three layers to reasons why I’m drawn to him, and then recommend that you check out more if you’re interested:
1) His new, fifth studio album is entitled Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color. That’s one of the titles I considered for my current book! Well, maybe not in so many words; but it captures pretty much exactly the two sides to the book’s central idea.
2) On the cover of that is a photograph of Ali kneeling in prayer (he’s a practicing Muslim American) on an American flag. Word.
3) Also word: this quote of Ali’s about that image: “It was meant to be a literal depiction of the album title. That the things that we believe about our country — freedom, justice, equality, life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, all people being equal — that these things are on the ground, these things are suffering, and so I am kneeling and praying for it. The meaning behind kneeling in this reverent way and praying is only a problem if [people] have believed this lie that somehow being a Muslim and being an American are mutually exclusive.”
Not much I need to add to that! Just, again, that I wholeheartedly recommend checking out some of his music. The “Listen Now” link on his main site is a good place to start!
Next series next week,
PS. New artists—or old ones you’ve recently discovered—or old ones you’ve long known about—you’d recommend? Share, please!
10/6 Memory Day nominee: Fannie Lou Hamer, the Mississippi sharecropper who in her mid-40s became a Civil Rights activist, voting rights advocate, and one of America’s most inspiring and influential voices for social change and equality.