One of the most prominent artists in independent hip-hop is a white Muslim albino from Minneapolis: Brother Ali's lyrical prowess has helped make him a force. Born Jason Newman in 1977, Ali grew up feeling out of place as a heavy-set albino kid, but his outsider status only helped as he found his voice. His demo tape, Rites of Passage, brought attention to his powerful and personal lyrics. Since then, the young rapper has made five studio albums, which find him using personal hardship as artistic inspiration.
On Ali's latest album, Us, producer Ant has crafted soulful beats for the rapper's explorations into drug abuse, divorce and homophobia, among other topics. Ali's most introspective and thoughtful work to date, Us has found the rapper breaking ever further into the mainstream.