By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
Anticipation is mounting for the new Brother Ali album, Us, which will be released by Rhymesayers on September 22. Not surprisingly, Ali has been keeping an insanely busy schedule: The time he has spent in Minneapolis lately has been consumed with filming music videos and preparing for his new release, and next month will find him touring Europe and launching the first leg of his Fresh Air tour of the U.S.
Last week, City Pages managed to snag a few minutes with Ali at his recent video shoot in the Warehouse District to get personal, get the scoop on his tour and new album, and find out how he stays sane amid the chaos.
City Pages: The upcoming album is called Us. It was going to be called Street Preacher, so why the change?
Brother Ali: A fan gave me the title Street Preacher, the message being: Connect with other people by embracing who we really are. I set out to make an album of stories from the people I love and give my listeners an intimate look at a side of life they may not be familiar with. Street Preacher was the working title until the album was done. Siddiq [of Rhymesayers Entertainment] and I were listening through the finished album and came to the conclusion that the title didn't end up matching the content...I don't "preach." It's just not who I am—I ended up telling stories about "Us." The all-inclusive, greater "Us" that makes the world go 'round. So we decided to rename the album what it's really about—Us.
CP: You will be rolling worldwide for your Fresh Air tour with Toki and Evidence in less than a month. How will this tour give fans a breath of fresh air? Where does the name come from?
Ali: The idea is to celebrate life and appreciate what we have. We're not concerned with what the magazines and videos and rappers tell us we need to own to enjoy life. We're blessed to be who we are, and we appreciate life no matter what challenges it throws our way.
CP: On the new single "Fresh Air," you talk about buying a house. How does it feel to be able to buy a home for you and your family with money you earned doing what you appear to love—rapping?
Ali: It's a dream come true. There's no other way to say it. There's nothing lavish about my lifestyle—I'll probably never be on MTV Cribs, but I'm the luckiest son-of-a-bitch that ever lived.
CP: You recently tweeted, "You know you're in love when you and your girl can make Wendy's in car with the baby feel like a date. God is Good!" Where is your favorite place to take your wife out on a date?
Ali: Steaks outside at Nye's. A walk by the river at St. Anthony Main and a good movie. The rest is none of your business [winks].
CP: Being away from your family while on tour must be challenging. What plans do you have in the works before you leave?
Ali: Being away from them for long periods is literally torture for everyone involved. Just thinking about it makes my heart sink. It's the evil downside of what we do. I'm really blessed to have a supportive wife, and I try to make every minute count when we're together. When we're home, I'm able to create my own schedule so I can spend every minute with them. I'm an extremely hands-on dad. The goal for the next few weeks is to get Faheem off to a good start in the new school year.
For more exclusive photos from Brother Ali's video shoot, visit Gimme Noise online at http://blogs.citypages.com/gimmenoise/