Mourning in America and dreaming in color

Brother Ali is angry but optimistic.

Anne Hiner


Rhymesayers emcee Brother Ali doesn’t dance around his distaste for our society’s use of violence in his newly released album, “Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color.”

In standard Brother Ali fashion, the new album makes a political statement by drawing attention to the money-hungry and murder-obsessed.

The title track “Mourning in America” hits hard and fast and is accompanied by a video packed with images of weapons and death.

“I don’t want to concentrate on the backlash. That is not what is important. What is important is that we as a society are sleepwalking, blind and complacent to the fact that we are obsessed with murder, death, and we deal [with issues] with murder and death,” Ali said.

Ali’s new album is a clear attack against what he believes is wrong in America, including war, an unbalance of wealth and racism. Yet, Ali is not pessimistic. He believes that with new concerns come new opportunity to fight for justice, hence the title “Dreaming in Color.”

Oddly enough, Ali groans at the word “political.”

“I don’t like the word political associated with my music because of what it means in the modern times. Modern times, when we talk about politics it has come to me as the football match between the Democrats and Republicans and the right and the left, and that is not what my music is about,” Ali said.

He hopes his music is about something deeper.

“My music is deeply rooted with love and humanity. … To live a life that does not try to include everyone is a shallow life.” Ali said.

“Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color” has a different sound as it was produced by Seattle native Jake One rather than usual producer Ant from Atmosphere. The album balances light-hearted melodies with hard, heavy beats. It’s a clear indication of the aesthetic change that came with a new producer, as well as Ali’s growing maturity as an artist and activist.

In addition to the change of producer on the new album, Brother Ali’s current tour will feature a new live band.

“The fact that we have real musicians that spent their lives making music, I feel it when I’m up on stage with them, and I think the audience feels it, and it’s just a better experience. It’s great; it’s really dope.” he said.

Brother Ali’s show at First Avenue  on Oct. 6 will have an interesting twist. He is holding a contest for high school emcees to battle it out over YouTube and SoundCloud for a chance to open for this all-ages show.

“I was really turned on by that idea of like showing young artists that there really is a life in music. I can’t wait to hear the submission. I know there is young genius there; we are going to try to bring it out,” he said.

Brother Ali will not settle for the same old act. He hopes America won’t either.