Brother Ali

Though his skin boasts less pigment than a peeled lychee nut, this Minneapolis-based Albino MC is not tight with white. Teased ruthlessly by fellow white classmates as a child, the albino artist formerly known as Jason Newman found comfort and outsider-kinship among black people. Subsequently, he became more of a "beyond white" kind of guy. "I was taught life and manhood by black men," the 33-year-old raps on "Daylight" from his 2007 breakout long-play, The Undisputed Truth. "They ask me if I'm black or white / I'm neither / Race is a made-up thing." Ali's no-race stance would feel like posturing if his artistry wasn't, well, so damned artistic. Supporting his just-released Us album, Ali captivates with a lush, crooner-like delivery that suggests a more full-throated Tupac, and lyrics ("Same color blood just passed through our veins / And tears taste the same when they splash on y'face") that he collects from cisterns of elegant, genuine emotion. It needs to be said: Part of Ali's disarming stage-presence is his complexion, which assumes the shade of raw filet mignon when the show heats up. So, are you in bed with red?


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