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Brother Ali On World Cafe

Brother Ali
Shelly Mosman
Courtesy of the artist
Brother Ali

In this session of World Cafe we welcome Brother Ali, a Minneapolis-based artist who's been delivering socially conscious hip-hop for nearly two decades. He's also white, an albino and Muslim.

Ordinarily I would not introduce an artist by first telling you what they look like, or what their religion is — but with Brother Ali, it's all intertwined. His music is so personal; when you listen, you feel like you know more about him than you might know about some of your closest friends. His latest album brings us in with intimate tales — when his mom dyed his hair so he'd look less albino, the classmates in school who used to call him AIDS, the fears he has for his own black son as a potential victim of violence.

But wait until you hear Ali's perspective on all of this; his album is called All the Beauty in this Whole Life, and that's where his open-hearted approach begins.

Ali came in and recorded his performance for us on June 5, midday, right in the middle of Ramadan. Just picture that: no food or drink during the day, and shows at night. He started us off with a live performance of the song "Own Light" — press play above to hear.

Copyright 2017 XPN

Talia Schlanger hosts World Cafe, which is distributed by NPR and produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. She got her start in broadcasting at the CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster. She hosted CBC Radio 2 Weekend Mornings on radio and was the on-camera host for two seasons of the television series CBC Music: Backstage, as well as several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor. Schlanger also guest hosted various flagship shows on CBC Radio One, including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Schlanger also won a Canadian Screen Award as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip.