Top 10 Brother Ali Songs of All-Time (And 10 Classic Verses) Brother Ali is an activist and melodic Rhymesayer who puts his soul on wax

Ali Douglas Newman (stage name Brother Ali) is a Minnesota rapper and Rhymesayers producer who brought a unique sound to the game. His bluesy, harmonic rhymes sound like a preacher on the track, and he weaves a lot of truth into his complicated rhyme schemes and lyrics. Hearing him perform, you’d never guess you’re listening to an albino from the Midwest, and he gets that a lot. Check out these highlights from the powerful discography of Brother Ali.

Best Brother Ali Songs

10.  “Tight Rope”

Album: Us 2009

Classic Line: 

Daddy was a preacher, momma was a Sunday school teacher
Big brother, football squad leader
Now far be it for you to disappoint or displease them
Your just being what you feel you see in
That mirror every time you peer in
Swallow the tears inside that empty feeling
A boy terrified to let the world in
He has girlfriends but doesn’t want a girlfriend
He retreats inside himself
Where he lives life itself in secret
Daddy says people go to hell for being
What he is and he certainly believes him
Cause there ain’t no flame that can blaze enough
To trump being hated for the way you love
And cry yourself to sleep and hate waking up
Its a cold world y’all shame on us

9. “Self Taught”

Album: Champion 2004

Classic Line: 

Ever since day number one, it’s just me and where I’m coming from
Rites of Passage and Shadows on the Sun
My people, I stand before you, As a man with more true shit
Than he knows what to do with
I give it all to you, long as you can promise me this
When it’s time, you will ball up a fist (like this)
Me and Anthony, we fill all the gaps in
And are proud of what we make, regardless what happens
Fuck rappin’, I sing off key
One thing you should never do is dis Ali
Cause, motherfucker, there ain’t nothin’ rougher
Then tryin’ to climb from the rug you get swept under
I can run through every one of your blunders
Mistake number one is that your crew don’t love ya
I’ll take a bullet for the core of the Sayers
When me and my dogs out tourin’ the nation
I spit with an intensity you have to witness
Look close, my blood on the back of the tickets
It’s that religious, it’s what I teach my son
How to read the Qur’an and how a party is won

8. “The Travelers”

Album: Us 2009

Classic Line: 

Separated, torn from your celebrating arms
Then as quickly as they came they were gone
Sold away from your farm this is all they’ve known
Never heard stories from home
They forget your name
The culture from which you came
Teaching it’ll get you slain
Praying to your God will get you the same
Tortured to near death lest you complain
No choice left, you sing through the pain
And pray that your suffering wasn’t in vain
End of your chain, end of your life
Your grandchildren born with no end in sight
So you muster up all of your might
And your last breath comes out (fight)
This is actually true
Now stop and imagine that’s you
Now stop imagining unravel the truth and ask just who is it happening to
Everything that the passenger do
The driver experience too
So if humanity is one
Then we all get burned when it’s hell that we’re traveling through

7. “Fajr

Album: Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color 2012

Classic Line: 

The long suffering long for relief
The hard working meek still drowning in grief
Houses are seized and they tossed in the street
The orphans of greed in the culture of deceit
Strong hunt the weak and the poverty steep
Wages dropping beneath yet the cost still increase
Officers deep keep force of police
The four-headed beast wild all off the leash
Hard-hearted beast with a jaw full of meat
Engulfed in a feast while you starve at his feet
He toss you the least little portion of a piece
To the floor and expect you to rejoice when you eat
Survival can seem the impossible feat
But you roll up your sleeves and you sow all your seeds
Toil in the soil but you’re not allowed to reap
So you toss and you scream like a horrible dream
Woke out your sleep got you forced to your feet
Feel the pulse of your people in the heart when it beat
The vultures they keep bringing halt to your peace
Pull the sword out the sheath keep the wolves off of the sheep

6. “Uncle Sam Goddamn”

Album: The Undisputed Truth 2007

Classic Line: 

Smoke and mirrors, stripes and stars
Stolen for the cross in the name of God
Bloodshed, genocide, rape and fraud
Writ into the pages of the law good lord
The Cold Continent latch key child
Ran away one day and started acting foul
King of where the wild things are daddy’s proud
Because the Roman Empire done passed it down
Imported and tortured a work force
And never healed the wounds or shook the curse off
Now the grown up Goliath nation
Holding open auditions for the part of David, can you feel it?
Nothing can save you; you question the reign
You get rushed in and chained up
Fist raised but I must be insane
Because I can’t figure a single goddamn way to change it

5. “Fresh Air”

Album: Us 2009

Classic Line: 

Ant check this out
I’m the luckiest son of a bitch that ever lived, I spend life doin shit I love
Got the world’s most beautiful kids and don’t nobody do it like us
Sunday morning play Al Green, make pancakes and watch cartoons
Sometimes get to change that scene, catch a plane and see somewhere new
Just got married last year, treated so good that it ain’t even fair
Already got a boy, now the baby girl’s here, bought us a house like the Berenstain Bears
Not two years ago I was homeless, I mean crashin on the couch of my homies
Now I’m crashin on the couch with Conan, signed a mortgage and bought my home, shit
Should of seen when they handed me the keys, I still couldn’t believe that it was mine
Like “baby hurry up let’s leave, before these damn people change their mind”
Ha, and shit what can I say? I would have made these damn songs anyway
Some of y’all still listen to ’em everyday, beautiful thing, I bow my hand and pray

4. Brother Ali “The Believers”

Album: The Truth Is Here 2009

Classic Line: 

Rhymesayer Entertain, try to name a better team
Reveal your jealous aim, some things’ll never change
Best twang your family together mayne
Them people cellophane, allowin their mother name
I’m invincible, walk with my word and my balls and my principles
Like a true prince should do
Only givin you a little bitty glimpse of truth
As I live it through, imagine what I’m fittin to do
I ain’t that hit it and quit it dude
Live it for that minute, then split and I’m here to get residual
Pedal hard and settle not for even a notch
Between the premium spot, cream of the crop
Believe it or not, I’m over every line like one
Life changin moment at a time
Please trust you’ll find, no better design
I’m so justified, I’m boast of epic kind
Nose to the grind stone, wait, no never mind
I could tell you ’til I’m blue in the face, the end of time
If you was ever gon’ bear witness to the child
Then your ass probably would’ve been admitted by now

3. “Only Life I Know”

Album: Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color 2012

Classic Line: 

They just wanna get you in the system, stick you into prison
Enlist you in the military ship you to the desert
Pigs don’t exist for you to make a decent living
But we got three illegal wars for you to pick from
Keep stressing marvels and personal decisions
Tell me what’s marvelous about these conditions
Who decided you don’t got enough to teach children?
Stay spending billions, on stadiums and prisons
How many roles can folks really choose?
When you’re oppressed only three lead to you
First one is follow the rules and stay in school
Be the square dude, that society approves
Get a little job or a shitty apartment
Sub-prime mortgage in a failing house market
The after your life dedication and hardship
You died just as poor as you was when you started
Fuck that, what’s up with the second option?
You could always hit the corner and try to get it popping
Get fast guap when you’re out dropping and clocking
But, chances are that you’ll probably die violent
The best hope that you got is getting knocked
And end up with a job in a prison metal shop
They ain’t paying nothing but three hots and a cot
Don’t you know that’s the biggest hustle they got?
Or door three you can get on that welfare
But they ain’t trying to help, they’ll put you in hell there
Give you just enough so you’re not gonna starve
And constantly harass you while you’re looking for a job
Do lock up and someone that got you to punch a clock
And they found about it and your check is getting dot
Can’t win for losing, dehumanizing
You’ll never get caught up, you caught up in a cycle

2. “Own Light (What Hearts Are For)”

Album: All the Beauty in This Whole Life 2017

Classic Line: 

I thank God I’m living
Sometime I feel like a stranger
Maybe I ain’t from here
World going crazy, how could that be unclear?
Know that I’m a soldier, heart’s on my battleground
Sword in the holster, had to come back around
I ain’t trying to hide away, I just had to meditate
I ain’t got a lot to say, but the ancestors may
Speaking to the whole globe, numbers don’t occur to me
You can listen solo ’cause you’re the whole world to me
I jump in with both feet, nothing low key
You can find me where I’m s’posed be, where my folks be
If you listen very closely, you know who chose me
Nothing that I own owns me, and so I’m so free
I remember being hungry, needing groceries
Nighttime getting no sleep ’til my nose bleed
Got a message to the police:
You’re not using your heart for, what hearts are for

1. “Forest Whitiker”

Album: Shadows on the Sun 2003

Classic Line: 

Ayo, dependin’ on the day, and dependin’ on what I ate
I’m anywhere from twenty to thirty-five pounds overweight
I got red eyes and one of them’s lazy
And they both squint when the sun shines so I look crazy
I’m albino, man, I know I’m pink and pale
And I’m hairy as hell, everywhere but fingernails
I shave a cranium that ain’t quite shaped right
Face type, shiny, I stay up and write late nights
My wardrobe is jeans and faded shirts
A mixture of what I like and what I wear to work
I’m not mean and got a neck full of razor bumps
I’m not the classic profile of what the ladies want
You might think I’m depressed as can be
But when I look in the mirror I see sexy-ass me
And if that’s somethin that you can’t respect then that’s peace
My life’s better without you, actually
To everyone out there, who’s a little different
I say damn a magazine, these is God’s fingerprints
You can call me ugly but can’t take nothing from me
I am what I am, doctor, you ain’t gotta love me

Best Brother Ali Guest Verses

10. Grieves “Tragic”

Album: Together/Apart 2011

Classic Line: 

I don’t know no more my brother, me and my blue sensitivities
Look at all that this music has given me
Intimately in tune with my misery
I can spin bad news to a symphony
I ain’t a boy in a bubble, I’m a man in touch with my joy and my trouble
Got a fighting chance at love in this ugliness,
I think hope deserves to know what she’s up against
Blues and 12s I write 24s, life’s twice as hard, fighting with the cards
Those chosen the moment we were born
Highs and lows, joys and woes, they’re yours
Chase the blues and one day you’re gonna catch them
Sing em all you want, you gonna wish you never met them
Humming the ballad of the paper-thin jacket
Trapped in the rain again

9. Talib Kweli “Understand”

Album: Indie 500 2015

Classic Line: 

From the earliest moment I remember me existing
I been driven, living for the vision
What to do when you wake up and realise
That the castle you been building is actually a prison
I’m right where the most high has me at
Trying to abandon the bad habit of glancing back
And any future I imagine that
All is exactly that, a fantastic track
Every breath I breathe I see it as a unit of my destiny
That did not exist until the second I conceive
Chest start heaving and the blessings I receive, that’s what I believe
Living in the moment is a love like this
An OG told me I should hug my gift
If you could be pleased with what you witness
Then you will never distress no matter what might shift
This, you hear the sound of crickets when they walking through
These rappers say they loud but their audibles is horrible
Sad and boring, that’s the categories that they fall into
God is on the line, this the final call for you
Told the divine, “I resign, I belong to you”
I heard a voice like, “Who you talking to?
Don’t you realize that I am all you do?” (Go ahead man)
Borrow this mic, I’m tryna talk it through

8. Jasiri X “Pillars”

Album: Ascension 2013

Classic Line: 

Riddle me this
How do we convince boys to be builders
When the tell-a-lie-visions/televisions, they destroyers of winners
Ignore us, till we make noise then they Emmitt Til us
Throw us in the pit with the bone chillingest killers
Parents, one parent, children ain’t childlike
Failure they stare at it, closing their eyes tight
Shame and embarrassment, straighten up, fly right
Campaign carelessness, can’t eat a sound bite
A lot broker then a stock broker
Broke broke like your promises, choke on accomplishments
They only get behind shit, the Heimlich
Make me throw up my hands ‘cause I’m sick
No boot straps to pull up too strapped for cash
Get your boots strapped and roll up, this here’s a hold up
Boarding hope up like a foreclosed store front
They dug my soul up and never covered the hole up
You know what?

7. Zion I “Caged Bird, Pt. 1”

Album: The Take Over 2009

Classic Line: 

Ah, a voice rang in the emptiness
The helplesss moan of wings that were never spread
My song brings the evidence
Allowing me to sing what was never said
Parrots look down on the pidgeons who
Comb the streets for old trash to eat
But my head’s up I strut through this bitch cause
My beak doesn’t repeat my masters speech
My feathers are your scholars ink pen
They held their natives decorate their big men
I represent strength and wisdom and even you can see freedom ring when my wings spread
What is it about you that you have to capture
That what you can not master
If you can’t grasp it you attack it, trap it, slam it in a cage and latch it
Everyday that you hold me in bars is another day I can’t teach your soul to soar
Here both of us are, link to this song – and when you hear a caged bird, sing along!

6. Immortal Technique “Civil War”

Album: The Martyr 2011

Classic Line: 

Our hearts were torn apart just like y’all was
Watching towers full of souls fall to sawdust
Everytime we called your office you ignored us
Now you holding hearings on us all inside of Congress
Microscopes on us, ask if we’re jihadists
My answer was in line with all of the Founding Fathers
I think Patrick said it best: Give me liberty or death
I shall never accept anything less
You claim innocence, you play victimless
But you gave the kiss of death in the name of self-defense
Slavery and theft have brought our nations to the end
Of pacifying your citizenry with excess
We believe in freedom, justice, security
But they’re only pure when they’re applied universally
So certainly if I rage against the machine
My aim was only to clean the germs out of the circuitry
Urgently putting fear inside your heart
Make you burn Qu’rans and tell me not to build a mosque
Me, my wife and babies we ain’t never made jihad
We just want to touch our heads to the floor and talk to god
Ask him to remove every blemish from our heart
The greatest threat of harm doesn’t come from any bomb
The moment you refuse the human rights for just a few
What happens when that few includes you? Civil war

5. Jake One “The Truth”

Album: White Van Music 2008

Classic Line: 

Hungry pacin in a bus station with my nuts hangin
But I never sold base, motherfuck Reagan (motherfuck Reagan)
Shit just wasn’t in my upbringin (upbringin)
None of us is above scrappin my brother, so I don’t judge nathan
Some of my buddies slanged it
Then one got taken out, toe tagged, fuck that, rather be butt naked
I say it real, I’m afraid of bein killed
Seein my kids raised in hell, me away in jail
In them homes, I been sketchin since I’m seven
Got collected by my brethren, now it’s my profession
Big music industry and seldom gettin mention
But the few that do zoom in respect me as a legend
Fuck that, I’m a Reverend
The Philly Freezer with the Street Preacher settin up shop teachin the lessons
These are not just words, we tell you in the booth
That feeling you just got inside your stomach is our proof, that we the truth

4. Abstract Rude “The Solution”

Album: Keep the Feel: A Legacy of Hip-Hop Soul 2015

Classic Line: 

I was raised on the doctrine of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad
Do what u gotta do to be profitable ain’t nobody stopping u
But ain’t nobody tryna plant your seeds & water too
Yes your crew is starving who gotta harvest that garden, U
Meaning me, it became easy to see
I’m the one gotta put my life the way how its supposed to be
And it might seem kind of cliche but hey truth be that way
Those that don’t know need to hear so those that do know need to say
You can quote them slogans over & over til you overdose
And coasting through life until u slam into that wall then bam!
Then it click, that truth is an upper lip
Chilling right there under your nose until one day it come to grips
As long as the world been revolving if I’m still groveling
In the same problem wherever I walk its probably not none of yall
But obviously some flaw that I ignore but got to see
And who got to solve it? Me – Brother Ali

3. RA the Rugged Man “The Dangerous Three”

Album: Legends Never Die 2013

Classic Line: 

Life gave me nothing free, but my ugly
Ass mug and a couple of fat nuts to squeeze
Dick dangling down in my dungarees
Hungry beast, I’ll chase your ass up a tree
You know what’s up with me, I’m sucker-free
Not uptown or uppity, it’s not my cup of tea
Feared one in the streets, won’t nothing bleed
Except my knuckle meat, caught up in your fucking teeth
Brother, please, I’m out here rhyming for survival
Plus I got a outta-body-mind-blowing live show
Squad’ll find dimes, follow me wherever I go
Got them on their knees trying to honor my arrival
Quick Draw McGraw, this mic of mine, I’m a prime time bidaw
Down by lidaw, broke dick, big dog
Who the hell am I? The A, the L, the I, and I’m the God damn shit, y’all

2. Public Enemy “Get Up Stand Up”

Album: Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamp 2012

Classic Line: 

They gonna tell me that I’m preaching to the choir, then I’m
Sure they right but I’m trying to light a fire in them
Cause I was raised by The Enemy
And ever since then that’s been my identity
So I’m trying to give back what was given me
Truth told delivery is my tendency
Youth fold to the spirit of my energy
Bottom of my feet is something that you’ll never see
That’s cause I’m standing singing the anthem
Fist on my hand, and a list of demands and
When they hear this might piss in their pants and
Try to get the children to not listen to the man
But the mighty PE is what birthed Ali
So what you gonna think come after me?
Chuck D

1. Classified “Maybe It’s Just Me”

Album: Handshakes and Middle Fingers 2011

Classic Line: 

You know me, I’m a 70s baby, yet 80s boy
I never had no love for the swings or playin’ with toys
I was on the mic doin’ my thing, just makin’ some noise
I don’t need to read no magazine, I’m straight from the source
You know I always had a dream, one day I’d step on
Stage and the ladies all scream like David Lee Roth
Teenager in the 90s
Things are changin’ all around me
You can hate me if you want but I escaped
You got to find me
Hit the Minneapol’
I had my whole city baffled
Soon as they see you advancin’
Then they all want to attack you
Rhymesayers massive
We built us a little castle
Eyedea won every battle
We should’ve built him a statue
Every single week we slayed, anywhere we seen a stage
Even with the weak DJ, we rapped over every beat they played
Chewin’ ’em up, spittin’ ’em out
You never seen nobody this devout
We just want to spit and shout
They literally would kick us out
The spot, two o’clock when they closed doors
We took it to the block, ears throbbin’, our throats sore
Hit the bus stop because we still got to flow more
Frozen cold blocks, swear to God we were so raw, oh Lord


Dr. Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. You can find his work in Cracked, High Times, HuffPost, Lifewire, Forbes, Fast Company, and dozens of other places, although much of it is no longer under his name. Dr. Penny loves annoying fake media.

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