Brother Ali is a baaad muthaf—a! Just ask Cuba Gooding Jr. He’ll tell anybody. And that guy’s got an Oscar. What he may leave out is that Brother Ali, a Wisconsin-born, Minneapolis-based MC, is just about running it right now with his mind-bending lyrics and body-moving hooks. If you haven’t heard his single, “Uncle Sam Damn,” yet, oh my god, hear it. And while you’re at it, freak out because we got Brother Ali in the Hot Seat and we didn’t let him up until he was tastefully sauteed. Have a bite.
Q: Tell us about your craziest touring experience.
A: Our tour manager J-Bird had some funk with a parking attendant at a popular venue in LA a few years back. Dude locked our tour van in the parking lot and wasn’t going to let us leave. Bird must’ve really hurt his feelings cause the guy went around the corner to make a phone call.
We thought he was coming back with the police. This parking attendant came back with the cast of a horror movie. There were professional wrestlers, ex-marines with big ass rambo knives and OG gangsta cats. I mean old 1980’s Gangstas like still wearing colors and sh-t. An old school pimp drive up in a Cadillac and a leather cowboy hat. He hopped out and showed us the snub nose 38 he had in his belt. We were in trouble.
We were able to talk it out with these dudes and cooler heads prevailed. When everyone was going their separate ways the pimpin’ dude turns to me and says “ain’t you Brother Ali?” I said “yeah.” He looks at me and says “You’s a baaaaad mutha f—a man!”
That name has stuck to this day. Next storytime I’ll tell you about the time when Cuba Gooding Jr called me the same thing…
Q: What type of college class would you most want to take and why?
A: I want to know more about the history of Central and South America.
Q: What city in America is the most fun to visit and why?
A: Philly… It’s a big-ass small-town. It’s one of the only cities left in America that still has a distinctive look and personality to it. They haven’t been able to “condo” the flavor out of Philly yet. And I hope they never do.
Q: What’s some of the best advice you were ever given?
A: People have nothing except what they strive for. And the results of their striving will soon be seen.
Q: What’s in heavy rotation in your MP3/CD player right now?
A: Howlin’Wolf – one of the greatest blues singers of all time.
Q: What’s the last good book you read or TV show you’re addicted to?
A: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.
Q: What’s the first concert you ever saw and how was it?
A: MTV club jams tour in ’89. It was Tone Loc, Young MC and Milli Vanilli. Downtown Julie Brown was the host. I didn’t really dig those groups and I didn’t really listen to them but I was excited to go to a concert. I was 12. I thought it was amazing until I saw Boogie Down Productions a few years later. Milli Vanilli’s singing was flawless by the way.
Q: What are three items you can’t live without on tour?
A: Clean draws, a bathroom with a lock on it and my phone.
Q: Who are your major musical influences?
A: The great MC’s KRS-One, Rakim, Chuck D and Ice Cube. The Great soul singers Issac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin. The Great Blues Players Muddy Waters, Son House, Howlin Wolf and Big Mama Thornton.