Local Wire

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?
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Craig Outhier